Don Clark of Invisible Creature

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Don Clark took some time out of his hectic schedule to answer some questions.

When did you know that graphic design was going to be in your future?
From early on in my childhood I knew I wanted to be an artist. Our grandfather was an illustrator for NASA and we (my brother Ryan and I) just wanted to do what he did. I didn’t really know what graphic design was until after high school. I guess I knew that I wanted to be a designer once I started playing music and had the opportunity to create album art.

How did you get your start?
I started drawing as early as I could hold a pencil. As I mentioned above, my grandfather was a huge influence on us artistically. As time went on, we got involved in music and met some amazing people in the industry that gave us some big chances.

When you are doing artwork for an album, how do you get your inspiration for it?
This can really come in multiple ways, depending on the project. Most of the time, we base our concepts or ideas off of the album title. We really thrive on having some sort of direction from the band or client. It’s hard to have complete freedom, to do ‘anything we want’. We like limitations. Since we are a multi-disciplinary studio, each project requires different inspiration and process. Knowing your audience is key in delivering the right product.

What album cover are you most proud of?
Hard to say. In many aspects, the cover is just part of the overall concept. Many of our packages are experienced as a whole. Personally, Foo Fighters “ESP&G” or Hawk Nelson “…Is My Friend” is up there. We’ve done well over 100 albums though. That’s a tough question.

Is there an album cover you would rather not be associated with?
Oh gosh, yes. Too many to name. You won’t see those on our site, how’s that?

What are the best and worst parts of creating an album cover?
Best part: The freedom to conceptualize and know that a client may green-light your crazy idea. Worst part: Self-Titled albums with no art direction.

Is there any sibling rivalry between you and Ryan in your work?
Not at all. We work really well together and have mutual respect and appreciation for each other. Hopefully at the end of the day, we’ve pushed ourselves to be better artists. Nothing leaves the studio without both of us giving our input. If it’s not ready, it’s not ready. Feedback and critique is essential.

If you had to fight Ryan in a steel cage match, who would win?
Well, he’s def. bigger than me … but I don’t know, I may be able to take him in sheer speed. Too hard to call.

Has there ever been a project that went too far against your faith that you just couldn’t do it?
Yup. A few times. Each project is a learning process. Sometimes you learn the hard way.

Who has been your biggest client?
We’ve been lucky enough to work with quite a few larger brands. I’d say Nike or Target is up there…

Have you had any difficult clients you have had to deal with? (Can you share any details?)
Absolutely. Unfortunately I can’t really get into details, but let’s just say that if you end up throwing the phone across the room – things generally aren’t going well with a client. We have a term here that we coined: ‘design abuse’ – when a client attempts to take advantage of a designer by requesting astronomical amounts of revisions or tweaks. We try to guard ourselves against that in each client contract, but every once in awhile it’ll slip by.

Are you guys Mac or PC guys?
Is that a trick question? What is a PC?

What programs do you guys use most?
Mac Mail, Safari, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Bridge and Twitter.

Do you prefer to work on paper, or purely digitally?
I tend to do all of my sketches and pitches now digitally, Ryan prefers to start many of his illustrated projects on paper. It all ends up digital in the end, though.

Where do you see I.C. going in the next 5 years?
Hopefully more of the same. We’ve been asked this question quite a bit over the last decade. Our goal is to keep having fun, progressing and working with new and exciting clients. So far we’ve been extremely blessed. I have a feeling you’ll be seeing a few more IC toys in the future though …

Given that you do a lot of cover designs for bands/labels, where do you see the physical CD industry going?
I see jewel cases (and the physical CD package as we know it) changing quite a bit in the next 3-5 years. From a design perspective, it’s encouraging to know that we won’t be bound by the limitations of jewel cases anymore. The future looks pretty bright in terms of physical packaging options. Whether or not one can make a living at it is another question…

If by some chance that it goes mostly digital, do you think your work will be affected?
Not at all. That was the big topic a few years back. We’re busier than ever.

How would you suggest a graphic designer get involved designing for the music scene?
Know the world you are attempting to create or live within. You can’t work in the music industry if you don’t know anything about it. Get involved. It’s a vast field, find your niche.

What is the invisible creature creative process like? (For an average poster let’s say)
Posters are a different process for us. We normally get to art direct those ourselves and don’t really get any client feedback. For standard client work, we’ll start with a few concepts and go from there. The goal is to get the green light from a client by the 2nd round of concepts. Once we do, we provide progress along the way (to make sure everyone is on the same page) and ultimately provide a finished product that everyone is happy with.

What was it like not being part of The World Is a Thorn?
It felt necessary. It was an amazing chapter in my life, but there were several new ones that I wanted to embark on… it was time for new adventures.

Is there any chance of you ever making a return to Demon Hunter or any other music project?
Not at this point. Maybe I’ll start a band with my kids when they get older … that is – if they aren’t extremely embarrassed of me.

What is your all time favorite riff?
Favorite non-DH riff: opening riff to Machine Head’s ‘Davidian’. Favorite DH riff: opening riff on ‘Lead Us Home’

What is your opinion of the “Punk Goes…” series of albums?
Hmmm, can’t say I’ve really listened to any of them …

What is your take on the Christian music industry?
It’s the same as any other music industry. It’s definitely changed drastically in the last 15 years. Or maybe I have …

What is your favorite Christian band?
I don’t really differentiate between Christian and non-Christian when it comes to art. There are far too many factors – nothing is that cut and dry. But if you wanted a relative answer, I’d probably say Starflyer 59.

What are you currently listening to?
Right now, this instant? Jay-Z.

A few of our readers wanted me to ask you, if you discovered a dinosaur, what would you name it?
Donosaur.

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