Above the Fold: William Ray - Designer, Artist
In Above the Fold, we spotlight individual members of Coroflot's vibrant creative community. The idea is to take you behind the scenes and inside the minds of talented Coroflot members who we think are doing exceptional work. Coroflot was created by designers, for designers, and Above the Fold is the place where we can talk to creatives about work that we not only love, but think you'll love too!
Like many in the world of graphic design and illustration, William Ray splits his time between doing professional work and making art. In his case, both of those things are synonymous. The Indianapolis-based Designer and Artist recently landed a job as the in-house artist for venerable craft beer purveyors Sun King Brewery. When he's not designing awesome looking beer cans, William can be found working on everything from public art projects to graphic design and exhibit design. We were fascinated by someone who is so multi-faceted when it comes to art and design, so naturally, we had to pick his brain!
Was there a specific moment in life where you realized you wanted to pursue a creative path?
I was always drawing as a young kid. My dad had this old beat up magazine from California called "Mouse" and it was full of these airbrushed t-shirt designs of monsters in hot rods. I would copy these drawings all the time. I later found out it was Stanley "Mouse" Miller, who was a rival of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, famous for Rat Fink. He also is famous for all the Grateful Dead poster art. So at this point in my life (middle school) I kind of knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to draw and paint!
Who are your design heroes?
I don't really have a specific design hero since my main background is art or fine art. I'm self-taught in graphic design and still have tons to learn. I like what [Aaron] Draplin does, also Half Hazard Press gig posters and their illustration work is fantastic. As far as fine art - Picasso and Basquiat!
Can you share some details about your most recent project?
My most recent project was for Sun King Brewery and a can design for Lupulin Astronaut. It was a 16oz can design with this astronaut floating on a lunar surface cradling this out-of-this-world hop and then other hops floating around him. In the background there is this lunar surface that has been cultivated for brewing these special hops. The can turned out really well and there has been a great response to the beer and the can. This project was a freelance project that started last fall and I recently accepted a full-time job with Sun King as their In-house Artist.
Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?
I bounce a lot between fine art and design projects. Currently, I am working on fabricating my second mini-golf hole for the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Each summer they commission artists to design and fabricate mini-golf holes and they open the course to the public in the summer. It's a great community event and it's super fun to design and fabricate the hole. I also am working on some new can designs at Sun King and branding their new distillery, which is opening late '17 or early '18!
Walk us through some of your process for creating.
DRAW DRAW DRAW DRAW and sketch out ideas. I always draw lots of little thumbnail sketches before I start anything in Illustrator. You have to kind of hash out ideas by hand to see if there will be design problems. Once the art is done I will scan in the art and test it with type if need be. If it doesn't work, then back to the drawing board. Once everything is flowing in Illustrator I might bounce back and fourth with Photoshop depending on how I want the final image to work.
Are there any projects (professional or personal) that you are especially proud of?
Yes. Both cans I did for Sun King so far I am especially proud of. Most people don't realize what goes into creating those. (Twenty-sided Rye and Lupulin Astronaut)
What tools (physical or digital) do you find yourself using repeatedly?
Sketchbook, iPad, iMac, pencils, microns, Sharpies, light table, scanner, then all of my wood working tools! You can never have enough tools or technology!
For [software I use] Pro Create, Adobe Ideas, Illustrator, Photoshop.
Do you have a ritual for getting in work mode (music you listen to, certain exercise, food you eat) aka a productivity tip?
I just jump right in, never hesitate. The one thing I have learned is not to be afraid of failure or bad ideas or bad drawings. These things are stepping stones to something bigger. This is why I create everyday, to get better. It also makes it easier to work once you let go of fear of failure. Also, don't let anyone hold you back no matter what they say. Keep trying, nose to the grindstone. Connect with other designers outside your realm and ask them questions. What works for them and why? Collaborate, ask your friend or your wife if they like what you are doing, find out what they like and what they don't. Never take criticism personally.
Music - YES - ALL KINDS! It's a backbone for me while creating.
Food - all kinds but not too much!
Outside of your professional life, do you have any other creative outlets or hobbies?
I draw everyday in my sketchbook at lunch and then I draw on the iPad in the evening. I call these my daily drawings, it's where I sort out ideas or visions I have in my head. Besides that I hang out with family and friends, spend time with my kids, I have a studio downtown I use frequently. You can find me on Instagram.
Do you have any tips for getting the most out of your Coroflot portfolio?
Keep it simple, show your best work, be detailed in your descriptions, and post the best quality photos you have!