Get To Know Artist & Designer Derek Friday
Derek A. Friday (@finndustry) is an environmental graphic designer, based in Boulder, Colorado and Hamburg, Germany. His work combines bold 2D graphics with 3D forms to create immersive branded environments and effective way-finding solutions for clients worldwide. As lead creative for Finndustry, Derek provides an intimate knowledge of global design trends and innovative approaches to modern design that are functional and accessible in a wide variety of physical applications.
Interviewer Alexi Ueltzen (@alexi) is Ello’s Social Media & Email Manager. If she’s not at the office, she’s probably swimming, getting muddy with her dogs, or baking cookies. The best cookies.
Love Derek's work? Enter to win a print from his "Creative Distractions" series.
Tell us what it means to be an “environmental designer”?
Well, I definitely didn’t land here via a traditional path. Like many designers, I grew up an artistic kid in an encouraging and creative environment. My uncle was a working architect in Chicago and I was exposed and influenced by his discipline at an early age. So I supposed this was around the time I started to figure out I wanted to be a designer. It wasn’t until much later after receiving an undergraduate degree in architecture and working several positions that I became aware of the potential for a multiple-disciplinary career. Environmental Design is the practice of creating experiences within a “built environment.” It embraces a variety of disciplines including interior design, graphics, industrial design, and others to help communicate the brand in an immersive manner. From color and patterning, material compositions, wayfinding and specialty features, these are all good examples of how environmental design can influence a memorable space and place.
How do other aspects of your life (ultra-running, biking) inform your work?
We all need outlets and breaks, especially during the design process. As an ultra runner and gravel rider, I spend a lot of time in the mountains training. Simply put, this is where I get things done. And these endless hours of thinking and observing without many distractions oftentimes help me to sort out problems and creative blocks. Of course, this works as long as I remember everything I was “thinking and observing."
What is it like splitting your time between Boulder, CO, and Hamburg, Germany?
In the beginning, it was super exciting and inspirational. And after 7 years it’s still both of those things, but my utter distaste for the process of actually "getting there" has taken over.
It’s part of your job to stay on top of global design trends...are there any exciting changes or innovations you think will have a big impact on the design community?
There so many cool things happening, especially with material capabilities and how technology is allowing for us to push those materials within the built environment. But personally, I’m really stoked about what I am noticing within the food and beverage industry. People love to eat and with amazing concepts popping up everywhere, from unique incorporations of F&B venues in hotels and retail environments, European style food halls, new bar concepts, food truck parks and urban garden projects among others, our choices are seemingly vast.
Who are some of your favorite designers or artists to follow on Ello?
There are so many to mention, but here are some super ones: @todd, @lucian, @owoodruff, @cacheflowe, @bentremper, @will, @mattercycles, @topodesigns, @sawdust, @cgwarex, @rushcha, @jayzes, @celeste, @ellomusic, @gb, @richbaird, @angrybovine, @jk, @goodapples, @lawnparty, @super-fresh, @duanedalton, @castirondesign, @kozik, @huckgee, @thomaswoodson and so many more.
The theme of your Creative Mornings talk was curiosity. Tell us a little bit about how you stay curious.
I started the talk by stating that “curiosity is an inescapable part of living a creative life and it's a start to my every journey and a constant companion...” Having said that, I still get bored and burnt-out like everyone else so I always need to be on the prowl for inspiration to fuel my curious nature. Traveling and keeping the observation levels at a high are some of the obvious ways to stay curious, but constantly learning new skills and growing intellectually (reading, podcasts, public speaking, skillshare, etc.) are the best ways I know at the moment. My ongoing creative distractions project helps as well.
Do you have a piece of advice for designers/artists who are just starting out?
I’ve learned so many lessons along the way, but these always seem to pop when asked this question.
1. Nurture relationships. I’ve found that they truly can be the lifelines of your career.
2. Attempt to always put yourself in the shoes of the “client and end user” when solving design problems.
3. Regardless of the project or compensation, treat every exercise with complete professionalism.
4. Always have a "Creative Distraction" project…or two…. or three.
5. Never ever stop learning and challenging yourself.
6. Let your personal brand develop naturally and authentically.
7. Get outside everyday…
What’s your favorite trail in Boulder...and/or Hamburg?
That’s tough but I guess it depends on what I’m looking to run. Bear & South Boulder Peak via Shadow Canyon or Green Mountain are my favorites for some good elevation pushing. For flat(ter) stuff, I like Boulder Valley Ranch, Dowdy Draw or the Mesa trail. The outer path of the Alster in central Hamburg is my go-to 7km flatlander loop, depending upon the copious amounts of Northern European wind and rain.
You can follow Derek on Ello, Twitter, Instagram, and soon you'll be able to check out a recording of his Creative Mornings here.