Interview with Art Director and Graphic Designer Mark Brooks

by Sean | February 15, 2012

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Mark Brooks’ visual style is something of a rarity. It borders the line between minimalism and complexity – a line that is so fine it might not even exist, given how many artists and graphic designers can fail to so much as straddle it. Who is he, and why should you keep a tab on his career?

What is your favorite tip, trick or technique you’ve learned so far?

I honestly don’t have a favorite tip, trick or technique because it changes with every new thing I learn.

While you are in the process of creating your designs, what are three rules you always follow to maximize results?

Many projects seem to have their own personality and therefore require a singular and spontaneous approach, which means I don’t have set rules. What I try to do is maximize the satisfaction I get during the creative process because that usually pays off in the final result for both for me and the client. Such satisfaction comes from challenging yourself with new approaches or design techniques.  Additionally, feel every step of the way rather than just being focused on what the final result will be.

How do you come up with your ideas? What is your creative process?

Again, I don’t follow a creative process per se. I’m a bit anarchic when it comes to it, and work on a project-by-project basis. I’m a bit like a sponge when it comes to visuals and sensations, whether from still or living images, artistic or social, and it’s a non-stop process. All these random visuals, sensations, and emotions are kind of chaotically stored in my head and they interact somehow when I need an idea. It results in something I can honestly find interesting to develop.

What are some of the advantages of working with both Illustrator and Photoshop for any given project?

Illustrator and Photoshop are the perfect marriage. They are different from one another but they just get along and compliment each other wonderfully. They really are fantastic design tools with the capacity to interact and fuse the best of the vector and pixel worlds into one. I often start by laying out in Illustrator and then take the vector layers into Photoshop to add texture or light effects. Sometimes I’m happy using just Illustrator and having plain vector work or a typographical composition. It can also happen that you start off with an image and begin a layout on a Photoshop canvas and add vector elements along the way that have been designed in Illustrator.

Your work contains wonderful textures. Can you explain some of your favorite styles of textures and why you choose to use them? Do you have specific techniques for creating certain textures?

Most of the textures I use are based on geometric patterns that can offer endless graphic possibilities when it comes to producing a layout, especially once you break them down to a fragment or even a simple line. I guess it’s like when musicians take a chord and create a solo out of the notes that form that single chord. I also enjoy organic textures very much. Splashes, irregular lines, dust, etc. Nature, in general, is an endless source of inspiration from which you can draw perfect geometric structures, random organic shapes, and hues.

What key skills (technical or personal) do you believe an artist needs to have in order to succeed as a graphic designer specializing in print design?

To me, understanding the principles of minimalism and composition are essential skills. I have always believed that less is more, but beyond that, I think it’s essential to learn how to say as much as possible with the minimum amount of graphics. From there on one can always add, multiply, or reach out for endless graphic resources, but if one doesn’t learn the essence of composition and how to arrange elements properly upfront, the results will always have a weak structure and will be hard to justify. I guess it’s like building a house. Before focusing in on a specific architectural style, you should first learn the structural principles to building a house.

Do you incorporate commercial trends into your work, and if so, is this a factor that drives your design?

One must always keep an eye on trends, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to buy into it or incorporate it into your work.


Do you ever do any research before starting with a new print design project? What type of research do you conduct before starting, and how does this help you achieve better results?

Yes, I do. I study my client as well as the target audience.  Additionally, I investigate whatever artistic trend or graphic code, (from any given decade or country) that I can find that may be inspiring for the project.

Do you have any final advice for our readers?

Believe in what you do, enjoy what you do, and do it step-by-step.



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