Illustrator & Designer Syd Danger on failure, finding her design niche, and how breaking the rules could create something that inspired
Syd Danger is a Graphic Designer working in Editorial with SAD Mag, Geist Magazine and Alive Publishing Group. Her former employers include: Adbusters, Cap Courier, and Beatroute. She graduated from Capilano University’s IDEA School of Design in 2015. Here’s our recent interview with her:
We recently listened to your podcast at SAD Mag. Congratulations on your upcoming job as editorial designer for SAD! How did that come about? Is it full time?
Geist, Adbusters and SAD are a world apart from the previous design gigs you had for Yaletown beauty shops. Tell us what you find fulfilling about your recent magazine work and did you get these jobs through word of mouth and networking?
It’s so inspiring to be able to work alongside talented editors, writers, illustrators and photographers. You all work together to create a beautiful piece that people will be able to hold in their hands and flip through, which I think is really special. I definitely found my design niche, and was able to find more work just through word of mouth once I found my footing.
You graduated from IDEA School of Design in 2014 "not wanting to be a designer". What advice would you give to illustrators who may look to you for hope to be able to do design work in the future?
One thing I didn’t mention in SADCAST is that my desire to push away from design came from not really believing I could do it. You’re in classes with such hugely talented individuals, it’s intimidating! What I always tell illustrators is your ability to do illustration makes you a stronger designer, and vice versa. You have the eye and the talent, you just have to push yourself to find things that you’re passionate about.
Many of our students do spot illustrations for Capilano Courier and some end up working there after grad as layout designers. Do you have some old spot illustrations for us and how was the experience there as a layout designer?
I loved my time at the Capilano Courier, it was such a transformative job for me. I really used my time there to figure out the basics of layout design and start exploring how to make that more creative. It’s also a great way to figure out if you can work well under pressure, which you certainly need to be able to do!
Your website says, "As the art director for Adbusters Magazine, I worked with the team to create layouts that broke the rules of design and inspired anarchists around the world". What was the experience like working there and got any favourite pieces?
Oh man, Adbusters is a world of it’s own. Working alongside Pedro Inoue, the creative director, I was able to take a step back from the computer screen and really connect with what I was creating. I saw the voice and strength design can bring to movements, and how breaking the rules could create something that inspired.
Adbusters describes itself as "a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age." Could you elaborate, in particular, “Make Believe World” and “Cool Fascismo”?
What was your experience like working at Geist, a Canadian literary magazine with a great sense of humour? Got any favourite pieces?
Geist is one of my favourite publications, the team is so fantastic! One of the most interesting things I found about working in editorial is that the teams are surprisingly small, with everyone working closely sharing drinks, lunches, coffees and maybe some stress tears.
What are some of the more memorable highlights from your time at IDEA School of Design?
In IDEA I failed, a lot. I failed constantly. I’m so glad I failed so much, because I really learned and grew from those experiences.
I’d have to say my fondest memories were the late nights with classmates, shaky trips to Tim Hortons and my time being mentored by professor Jeff Burgess.
Students now have portable MacBooks. Got any advice to students who prefer going straight home after class to work solo?
My advice to anyone trying to work from home is to set up a work area that inspires you. Fill it with greenery, prints from your favourite artists, and an area to work hands-on and get messy.
Please tell us about the awards you won (during school or after grad)
I have been lucky enough to have been a part of a few awards, including a Gold National Magazine Award (Geist, best photojournalism) and Adbusters receiving the Curry Stone Design Prize while I was working there.
Outside of work, do you have any exhibits or interesting projects coming up? (i.e. selling prints, etc.)
Most of my time is devoted to work, but I do sell a few prints here and there! I’m currently working on a tarot deck, which will hopefully be released sometime next year.