June 20, 2011

D is for Design - But It's No Trap!

An Interview With Designer Brandon Peat

Part 2 of 2 (link to Part 1)
Click on any picture to enlargify

Brandon, looking some more at your widely covered
‘A is For Ackbar’ project, some folks have included all of these pics, from Ackbar to Zuckuss, on their own sites or even in their Flickr catalogues, etc.. Is that cool with you or do you feel like that’s going a bit too far? Oh and despite temptations, I’m not going to do quite that much ‘borrowing’...
It’s all good. Once you put something online, it’s out of your hands. I expected the images would wind up on other sites, and as long as they left the disclaimers stating where the illustrations came from, people can find their way back to my site.

The good thing is that with all the publicity, our authorship of the images is pretty well documented, and people won’t be able to pass these off as their own work. Still, there’s a reason we didn’t release the hi-resolution source files!

Getting back then to other, perhaps non-Star Wars related issues:

I really enjoy your portfolio of illustrations, very nicely done! Again though, you offer a variety of pieces created in very different styles. Is this something you try to do to show your range of skills? Or does your selection have to do more with personal preferences? For example, I’ve been comparing your more digital works like those above to your various ‘Rad People’ portraits.
I guess it’s a little of both.

Working in a variety of styles and mediums keeps it interesting for me, and I do feel that certain styles work best with certain subject matter.

Brandon, now that you are running your own agency as an official LLC 'entity', do you ever find yourself getting bogged down with ‘management’ issues? I mean, do you ever find the project planning or even financial aspects to be frustrating?
Oh, most definitely. I’m the sole breadwinner for our household, supporting my wife and son with my career. So I definitely take the business aspects seriously, but they can be very time-consuming.

I’ve found that I have to allow an average of 10 hours per week for administrative stuff. That includes invoices, estimates, client meetings or correspondence, portfolio or website updates, researching potential clients, printing and mailing art orders from my online store, and more – all stuff that I don’t get paid for but still needs to happen in a timely and regular manner.

Additionally, I can’t control when projects arrive on my desk – or, often, when they’re due. So I might have almost nothing to do one week, followed by a crazy week where all my clients have new jobs with fast turnarounds. You learn to make good use of the downtime to deal with the managerial stuff, so that when the work hits you have time to take care of it.

Flexibility is key – freelancing has actually prepared me pretty well for being a father!

Considering this, you’ve also mentioned that you are ‘gearing up’ for a big business push in 2011. What do you have on tap to see this through?
So far I’ve been largely targeting my local market in Fort Wayne, which has treated me well and given me a solid first year of business. This year I’m looking to expand into nearby markets such as Indianapolis, which has a lot of great design agencies I’d love to work with.

What about the ‘Rad Project Discount’? What are your targets with this promotion?
Yeah, that’s the other half of my new business push. Most of my work is with agency clients and in the multimedia realm, so I’m looking for smaller clients with creative print design needs. You know, folks like bands that need album design, authors needing book cover illustrations, etc. The fun and creative stuff!

Historically, I’ve usually given these sorts of project a cheaper rate anyway – I’m simply making it official. You can learn more about the discount on my website at

http://www.brandonpeat.com/me/raddiscount.html .

You once stated in your blog that ‘the difficult thing about being a graphic designer is that a lot of your work never sees the light of day’. How has dealing with either the rejection or even lack of even an opportunity to show your work changed – if at all – working freelance compared to the company environment?
In an agency environment, several designers are usually generating ideas for the same job. These ideas are reviewed and refined within the art department, then with the account executives, and finally presented as options to the client. In an ideal situation, that means the client is only seeing the best ideas. In practical application, it doesn’t always work that way. It can also be difficult not getting to communicate with clients directly, but having to present concepts through the AE’s.

Personally, I much prefer working one-on-one with a client. It simplifies the working method immensely. Now, rejections do seem much more personal in this sort of client relationship, but so is the praise for a job well done.

The reality is that graphic design is a principle based on rejection – rejecting bad ideas at every step of the process, hopefully resulting in the best final idea and product. It’s easy to get an ego when you feel you’re on a hot streak, but it just takes one client to bring that all crashing down. Learning to deal with disappointment is a crucial skill for any designer, agency-employed or no.

Now, I’m going to put you on the spot: you’ve worked on some obviously fantastic illustrations, as well as logo and brand development, print layout, and multimedia projects, just to name a few. But if you had to choose, RIGHT NOW, one area you’d like to focus on, say, after you’ve just won the Megabucks lottery: which one would it be and why?
Ooh, good question.

I love the multimedia stuff and it definitely pays the bills, but I’d have to say that my first love is definitely illustration and print design. If money wasn’t a concern, I would totally be an eclectic illustrator.

Finally, looking at your current ‘to do’ list :

What’s the current status on your ‘
War of Eternity’ project that you are – or at least were – working on with Christopher Arndt?
The War of Eternity is a sci-fi/fantasy universe that Chris and I have been working on for a very long time. We self-published the first novel in our series, which we were very proud of, but gradually realised that it wasn’t going to take the story in the most compelling direction for future instalments.

So the project is currently on hold as we further brainstorm the overall concept and storyline. It’s definitely happening, but it’s a back-burner project to our respective careers and lives.

Is that the same as ‘Black Rose’? Or is this another ‘not really fantasy but kind of, yeah’ project you’ve got going on?
Yeah, Black Rose is another reason that Eternity is on hold!

Black Rose is an independently-published comic book series. It depicts a fantasy world entering an industrial revolution, a world facing war between the magic-using nation of Ishtakar and the steampunk country of Athelica. The series follows a brother and sister through the tumultuous evolution of their world.

Though technically a fantasy story, Black Rose is not a high fantasy – there are no elves or dwarves here. Our goal is gritty realism and believability. To use some famous examples, it mixes the rich world-building of high fantasy such as Lord of the Rings (ooh, great segue to show Brandon’s illustration of JRR.Tolkien below!) with modern, character-driven storytelling like that of Battlestar Galactica.

The amazing art for Black Rose is done by our good friend
Aaron Minier, who brought Chris and me onto the project to co-create and write. Chris is the primary writer, while I do the editing, lettering, and all the print and web design. The comic will really be shifting into high gear over the next couple of years and we’re very excited about where it’s heading.

You can learn more about the project and purchase issues and art direct from us at

or even via our Facebook fan page!

And finally finally (or ‘Finally: The Final Chapter’), where would you like to see your business or especially your art heading in the near and/or distant future?
You know, I’m very happy with where I am right now, both career-wise and artistically. I’ve always been very critical of my work, and feel like I’m only just now getting good at the subtle nuances of design.

I was recently offered a full-time in-house design position at a software company and went through several phone interviews with their staff. They asked me what my dream position would be, and I found myself having to think fast, because in truth I already had it. I politely declined the position.

The one thing I want to avoid is complacency. I always want to learn new skills, I always want to improve my work, I always want to meet new clients. I’m incredibly lucky to be able to do this for a living, let alone work from home, and I hope I can keep doing it for a very long time in the future.


After two and a half years as an Art Director and Interactive Developer for a prominent Fort Wayne ad agency, Brandon Peat did the craziest thing you can think of in an economic downturn and decided to quit his job! However, this allowed him to return to his roots as a freelance designer eventually incorporating himself as an LLC. He already has an impressive client list and range of awards to his credit, not to mention that he’s a regular at comic ‘cons’ to plug at very least his on-going collaborative work with the title ‘Black Rose’!

Brandon brings a wide range of skills plus several years of on-the-job industry experience to the table, as well as knowledge of new and emerging technologies. Among his myriad of talents, he specialises in illustrative design and interactive Flash development, though he has experience in just about every imaginable area of design, enjoying being able to bounce between them as the job requires.

Please check out Brandon and his work at the following links, or drop him a line at
brandonpeat@gmail.com. He’d love to hear from you and - if he’s not currently busy changing a diaper - have a chat!



Black Rose


All pictures, videos and other media are used with written permission of Brandon Peat, including all current or previous business affiliations related to same, or are available in the public domain (noting copyright and other restrictions, accordingly). No further reproduction or duplication is permitted without contacting the artist directly.

Some pictures have been modified slightly or combined only for the purpose of space limitations. In all cases, we invite you to visit the artist’s site(s) for more!

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