Ten minutes with: Lefty Designs
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Where do you find inspiration?

The biggest inspiration for me is other artists. Seeing a fresh new look at how art is done can open up a whole new avenue of ideas and creativity. Us artists often hit what’s called “burnout”. Everything looks the same, nothing feels fresh or creative, and nothing can really bring you back to the drawing board to put any ideas down. More often than not, that’s simply a result of staring at your same art style and product for far too long, we develop almost an immunity to our own art if we never change up how we do it. And a good fix to that is to just take a few minutes to look at how your fellow artists do their work. It can do wonders.

Tell me about the projects you’re most proud of and why.

This question can be a little hard to answer as the projects are always changing and improving. But the work I’ve been most proud of was the work I did with Landon Cassill and JD Motorsports on the Voyager #4 Camaro. From the car on TV, to the suit Landon was wearing was all done by me. From communicating with Mr. Sibille, the JDM creative director at the time, all the way to getting feedback right from the sponsor. It was all honestly a dream come true. It was my first taste of the multi-race sponsor, real deal scheme, deadlines, revisions, wrap colors, vector artwork, nearly the whole experience besides being at the shop and watching the car get wrapped. That purple voyager car just pops on TV every Saturday, I turn the TV on and I just get that feeling of butterflies in my stomach even today. And if it wasn’t for Van Knill, the Senior Manager of Partnership Marketing at NASCAR bringing me into the ranks to work with Landon on his Blue Emu Camaro for the Pro Invitational in April 2020 this opportunity would not have happened. ever since that opportunity I’ve built a fantastic partnership with Landon that still keeps turning to this day and hopefully many more to come. From an iRacing scheme to a Cup Camry scheme on the high-banks of Daytona and Talladega, my entire career started with my work with Landon and it has put me into the best position I could ever be career wise.

What software do you use and why?

For the sake of not limiting my ideas I use photoshop a lot when it comes to my concepts, I use illustrator only when I need to. Photoshop has been a program that I’ve used for years and years since I was 16, I’ve gotten to that point that I’ve started to plateau in my growth on what can be done in that program as far as graphic design goes, which feels scary but I know there is still so much more to learn. Only recently has my illustrator skills started to spike as far as using it to make wraps and vector illustrations, using my iPad has definitely increased my productivity of vector illustrations in my college classes specifically. I only wish I could have broken that barrier earlier with illustrator when I first started out doing graphic design, it seems scary at first but after that first complete piece that gets approved by everyone at the wrap shop it feels like a massive weight off of your shoulders knowing you have the know-how to send a file straight to the printer. As far as rendering goes I haven’t used anything other than Blender. A clean and tasteful render scene is nearly half the work for a good presentable concept. I view renders as the display, the pedestal that the art rests on, the lights that dawn on the piece. The render is almost as important as the piece itself when it comes to a good car wrap.

Have you studied design or self taught?

I’m not entirely self taught, but whenever someone watches me work, they almost always tell me that I’m not entirely self taught, but whenever someone watches me work, they almost always tell me that they didn’t know they could do it that way. Every way that I’ve worked has always felt patch worked and stuck together with duct tape and bubble gum. And that’s purely because I take puzzle pieces of knowledge I’ve garnered from place to place whether it’s other artists or through school and piece them together with pieces I’ve made myself. There’s not really such a thing as a good artist who is entirely self taught or entirely a result of studies. As an artist you have to be open to the process, the way it is done by those who know what they are doing, but you also have to step out of that boundary where no one dares to go and create something unlike anything anyone has ever seen before. That’s how you succeed in art, by learning the rules, and at the same time breaking the very rules you were taught. But you can’t break them if you never learn them.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is a very convoluted thought to me recently. I’m currently 6 months away from 21 years old while writing this and in all honesty I’m having a very hard time with growing up and moving away from the people I’ve known my entire life if it means I get to live the job I’ve wanted since Kindergarten besides being a NASCAR driver. To say that people I went to school with always told me that I should be an artist is an extreme understatement. Part of me feels that this path was predetermined for me, feeling like there is nothing else in my life besides art. But in all true reality it is my life, it’s the way I communicated as a kid when I struggled to tell people how I felt, I would express all of my deepest feelings through pencil and paper. It’s what brought me out of very dark times of my life that I felt I’d never get out of, but at the same time has put me into such hot water that I felt I’d never touch a single creative tool ever again. It has not only helped me but made me who I am to this very day and it will continue to do so. I feel like I owe it to art as a whole to carry out what it has made me become in the world of racing that I love dear. 

If you could design a livery for any team or driver, who would it be and why?

If I got to pick out any opportunity amongst any point in time, I would just want to work alongside Sam Bass. Whether it was Jeff Gordon at Hendrick, Dale Earnhardt at RCR, or even the cars for Talladega Nights. I personally feel that outside the creative design community of NASCAR he doesn’t even receive an inch of the respect and love that he deserves for everything that he has done for NASCAR. He is responsible for nearly every iconic driver scheme we watched and cheered for. And to be completely honest I feel the closest I will ever get to that experience is working with Harris Lue at Stewart-Haas Racing. Everything that he has done for me professionally and even personally has given me such a huge boost in morale and motivation that I can’t even put into words. Sam Bass meant a good deal to Harris and you can seriously tell through his work. His attention to detail, color theory, composition building, it all screams Sam Bass.

What is the most challenging livery you have ever designed?

Jimmie Johnson’s 2020 Ally Texas Scheme. My relationship with that scheme and opportunity is very complicated. It wasn’t a paid job, it was a fan opportunity provided by the sponsor Ally Bank. The two weeks I spent on that scheme were the longest two weeks of my life. The expectations, the magnitude of it being Jimmie’s third to last race in the 48, the reason why the opportunity was given to me alone was enough to make me throw up every morning. To this day I still let the thought of if I should’ve taken that opportunity or not keep me awake every once in a good while. But just the sheer amount of thought, time and dedication that I poured into making that car was unlike anything I have ever created in my entire life and in all honesty may never be surpassed. But I owed it to myself to not let everyone at Ally down with what they offered to me, and to give Jimmie a scheme he could remember in his third to final start. Ever since that design I’ve done everything I could to work just as hard as everyone else in my field to make sure that I wasn’t insulting those around me by skipping any steps of the process. 

What do you think makes a good livery design?

Rule of thirds. The basic concept of design is understanding the rule of thirds. With that making sure nothing interrupts the flow of the design, like the sponsors, decals, and numbers. A lot of times you see people start the base design before they even put down numbers and logos and find themselves having to adjust the entire design to fit said numbers and logos. As far as colors go, a good design benefits when you have a base color that is muted and solid with a very fluid and bright accent color. Or vice versa. 

How do you make your designs stand out from the rest?

I usually don’t focus so much on if it stands out but more or less if it looks good. I trust myself to make things that will stand out because of what I have said prior. I follow the rules but at the same time I try to break down barriers that other designers wouldn’t dare to touch. But whenever you’re making new things that people really like, people will often replicate it. Which is all the more reason to keep changing it up and keep a little spice and unknown in your design process. You’ll never find new ideas if you aren’t willing to break your own mold. 

Lastly, for those starting out. What advice would you give?

Keep your network growing. You are up the creek without a paddle in the design world without a proper network. It’s almost half what you know and half who you know when it comes to making moves in the design world. The more you interact, the more you talk and share with others the more chance that those people will share your work and have good things to say about you, in turn sparking new opportunities to work with more people. You advertise yourself, but others will advertise for you if you carry a good attitude and good mindset when it comes to interacting with others.

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