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Keeping curiosity healthy with illustrator Patrick Hruby | #MemberSpotlight

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Los Angeles-based illustrator Patrick Hruby grew up in a log cabin within an Idaho forest. As a young boy he dreamt of running away to join the circus and become a trapeze artist. Eventually, however, he grew up to pursue a career as an illustrator

Influenced by artists and designers such as Charley Harper, Paul Rand, and Mary Blair, Patrick’s deep interest in the geometry of nature is central to his work. In recent years, however, he has gone on to develop his own stunning and modern aesthetic. 

With clients including The New York Times Magazine, Playboy Jazz Festival, Varsity Pictures, and Brand New School and a spot as one of CMYK Magazine’s Top 100 New Creatives, Patrick is a true one-of-a-kind that we’re honoured to shine our spotlight on today.

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How did you get into the industry?

I began freelance illustrating in my last year of college at the  Art Center College of Design.

Where are you based now and who do you work for?

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I am represented by Friend + Johnson for all freelance illustration work. I also design in-house for DrawTogether, a multi faceted arts education project as well as teaching in the design program at UCLAx

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

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I know that I would still be making things, still drawing, and still involved in education. I might be a botanist or something similar.

Can you explain your creative process?

Each project is a little different, but generally I don’t begin sketching until I do some reading and writing. I like word clouds and free-association writing to get my mind thinking more broadly about a project and to start to generate some interesting associations.  

I think on these ideas for a bit then start sketching whatever comes to mind until the project starts to take some clarity. From there, the process of designing out and illustrating the image in Adobe Illustrator is more of a meditative process, working through the design directly in the program.

How would you describe your style?

Bright, optimistic, geometric, and colourful.

Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

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I have many heroes from the past:  Alexander Girard, Charles and Ray Eames, Corita Kent. I also have been lucky to work sometimes with one of my modern day heroes, Todd Oldham who has been a mentor to me from the time I was in school. 

If you had to pick one ideal client/employer, who would that be and why?

I think that list would be too long to list. I am very curious and get excited about trying new things, new applications, and new causes. I like to work with clients that I truly believe in what they are about, but I wouldn’t narrow it more than that.

How has technology affected the way you work?

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I think the largest change for me what the ability to add motion to my work. I’ve worked in a similar way for the past decade with Adobe CC but within the last few years I have been really exploring ways to incorporate small animated elements to breathe a little more life, excitement and surprise into my work. 

What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

Reading. Reading books about art and design, but also books about history and philosophy, science, really anything that keeps my curiosity healthy and growing. 

What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

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I wouldn’t say it is any single project or achievement. I am proud when I feel like my work brings something new and exciting into the world and especially when I feel like it is accomplishing something for good.  

Along those lines I am proud of my work with DrawTogether, my work for mental health advocacy, my work with the United Nations and other organisations  that create positive change.

How do you recharge away from the office?

I like to get out and be in nature. It may be a hike, visiting a garden, or even just a scenic drive. 

What is one tip for other aspiring creatives looking for work?

Don’t get discouraged. Believe in your work, and keep making it.

What is the one thing that you would change about the industry?

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I feel like now is a time where a lot of change is actually taking place. The industry is becoming both more inclusive and more diverse. I say let’s keep going!

Any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

Some books I love are: Eames: Beautiful Details by Gloria Fowler, Alexander Girard by Keira Coffee and Todd Oldham, Learning by Heart, Teaching to Free the Creative Spirit by Corita Kent and Jan Stewart. Those are just a few!

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