Justin Mezzell is a designer and illustrator from Orlando, Florida. Here, he shares his portfolio with Digital Arts.
Where did you train?
I went to college at the University of Central Florida, where I majored in basically everything but design. I stumbled into college without a clue what I wanted to do and then floundered until I fell into a design internship by chance.
What kinds of tools, materials and tech do you work with and why?
I work primarily in the Adobe Creative Suite. Mostly Illustrator and Photoshop, with the occasional InDesign for presenting work. For my UI/UX workflow, I've begun working Sketch into the mix, which I've really been enjoying.
What techniques and approaches do you use most?
I'm all-digital these days, so even my sketches take place on the computer.
I enjoy working with the constraints of grid-based illustrations that build on simple shapes to create more complex interpretations of the world around us. There's something so exciting about setting self-imposed restrictions on the work you build. It began as a sort of personal challenge, but has since evolved into a large part of my cognitive planning and execution.
I'll often warn up by finding complex scientific or engineering equipment and attempting to reduce it into an arrangement of basic shapes and line work. Reduction allows you to fully appreciate the complexity of our everyday interactions with the things around us.
What has been your favourite piece you've created and why?
Le Telephone (Right) is probably my favourite. I thoroughly enjoy building architecture, but it has a tendency to feel cold without people to populate it. Telling a story in one frame with no characters was a challenge, but I'm happy with how it turned out.
Which clients have you worked for?
Past clients of mine include Google, Twitter, Facebook, PayPal, Wired, Fast Company, Time and Disney.
What are your biggest influences?
I love story. There's such power behind our lived experiences, those of others, and the stories that we choose to tell. In creating work, it's been a desire of mine to craft these stories into other lives or other worlds.
I've also loved manipulating light and colour in unique and unnatural ways. 1980s ephemera has always struck me as an interesting play on colours. Bringing some of those tones into the work I create has been a fun, dynamic challenge that I find myself always trying to reimagine or remix. In a final piece, I could have anywhere from three to five different variants that alter light and colour.
What's your advice for creatives aspiring to work in the design industry?
Remember to look up from your work or your computer screen from time to time. Don't get too focused on the work you want to create that you forget to interact with the world you live in. Inspiration can't be hammered into place, it's experienced – often in the places you'd least expect to find it.
What are you working on now?
I'm working with the Code School team on redesigning the site, as well as a brand new course we're releasing soon. In my own time, my friend Logan Faerber and I have been working on hand-illustrating some Pokemon because why the hell not?
What's your dream commission?
I'd love to be able to work on a more immersive experience in a fully realised world that I'd have a hand in crafting. As a designer, the things I create are often confined to the static experiences that exist on a webpage or on a 2D print. Working on a game or film would satisfy that desire to lend a hand in a more comprehensive narrative.
Le Telephone - A personal project in telling a one-frame love story.
Future 52 - The Scoundrel - My contribution to the Future52 collaborative project.
Dashboard of the Future - Editorial illustration for Fortune Magazine on the future of car dashboard UIs.
Summer Camp - Branding for Code School’s 2013 Summer Camp.
Austin, TX - Editorial illustration for Wired Magazine on Austin.
The Flak Cannon - Illustration on a collaborative project, Epic Armory.
Essentials of Halo CE- Illustration for Essentials Of.