Derek takes a multidisciplinary approach to design—creating hand-lettered type, detailed illustrations, and the occasional mural. He developed his craft at the Art Institute of Indianapolis, then worked for the Heartland Film Festival. While there, he led the design of a rebrand that garnered national attention. As a graphic designer at Pivot, he has developed brand foundations and original artwork for Visit Bloomington, Bennett Boehning and Clary, Four Day Ray, and others. He’s a modern renaissance man, writing poetry, composing music, and playing the piano, guitar, and mandolin in his spare time.
I realized I wanted to be a designer in high school after visiting Peat Wollaeger’s studio and Firecracker Press in St. Louis. Before that, I was really only interested in fine art. But roaming through the streets, I kept seeing their designs everywhere—Peat’s stencils in every alley and Firecracker’s posters on every telephone pole. It struck me that they had branded the city. I wanted to do the same thing.
Lettering is mathematical. Geometry forms each letter. The lines need to be parallel, and the curves need to relate to those parallels. It’s also very human, and conforms to the motions of the hand and wrist. Being analytical as well as artistic, I took to it immediately, and my love of language cemented that passion.
I’ve always enjoyed literature, especially the honesty of the essay form. Michel de Montaigne, Emerson, Thoreau, William Hazlitt. I read a lot of poetry, too. At the top of the list are Shakespeare, Keats, Emerson again, and Gwendolyn MacEwen.
No matter how big or small a project is, I put my whole mind to it. I learn everything I can. I take all of that research to create something that the client loves and that I can be proud of. I never want to turn something out knowing I could have done more.