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Creative insights from designer Craig Winslow and digital illustrator Syd Weiler

The Adobe Creative Residency gives talented individuals the opportunity to focus on a personal project for a year. Meanwhile Adobe Create magazine explores behind the scenes, sharing the artist’s process and passion along the way.

In this article we introduce two of its current residents, designer Craig Winslow and digital illustrator Syd Weiler. For more insights to their creative practice, and to chart their ongoing progress, head to Adobe Create.

Craig Winslow: designer

How did you conceive the Ghost Sign Project?

The idea emerged working on another project of mine, Projecting West, a Kickstarter-funded, 15 day cross-country adventure where I was making one light installation a night. On day six in Omaha, Nebraska, we were tired, behind schedule and at midnight we found a giant wall advertisement that was simply perfect for what we wanted for that day’s narrative. A year later the ghost sign projection concept was still festering in my brain, but I was unsure of how to fund it or properly bring the idea to life. Everything aligned when a friend told me about the creative residency, and I pulled together my year of research to apply for it.

How is the project developing? What are the particular design challenges you face?

It’s been coming along nicely. Each sign has its own history and personal stories I’ve found through talking to locals, diving into libraries, and exploring historical societies in the area. The biggest challenges are trying to dig up the past of some of these signs that just don’t seem to have any visual hints visible to the naked eye. Finding historical photographs of some of these last surviving signs is often very difficult, forcing me to stare at high res photos of the walls until I can resolve what used to be there.

How does this project relate to your wider work?

In a lot of my work I try and use bleeding edge technologies in interesting and hopefully meaningful ways. Projection mapping has been a wonderful medium to play in because you can directly augment the world around you, without convincing someone to wear a helmet, put on sensors, etc. that would otherwise take you out of the immersion of an experience. A mantra of mine over the past few years has been from the past, build the future and thinking of ways we can not just dive forward enamoured with new exciting technology, but take a second to look back, to see what insights, or mistakes, we can learn from. Beyond that, I just want to make memorable things people can experience in meaningful ways. With one sign I revived in Cincinnati, I was able to track down the son of the man who painted that sign, who wrote an article about how this was his father’s last remaining sign in the city. It was a very touching moment in this project.

Why did you apply for the Adobe Creative Residency?

I couldn’t think of any reason not to! It sounded too good to be true. An entire year to focus on one passion project, whatever it may be, is a complete dream for any creative. Especially since spending the past few years working independently, there are often tough times of financial stress that can definitely impact creativity. Washing that stress away for a year has opened up so many more experimental ideas. Plus, the level of support and dedication everyone at Adobe and my fellow residents have given each other has been fantastic; they’re pushing us and cheering us on. They’re pushing me to push myself, and it’s been nothing short of a complete dream job so far.

Tell me a little more about your career in design to date?

I started my own independent studio three years prior to the residency, working on a large array of experiential design projects. Before that I worked for three years at a brand-focused design studio, JDK Design, in Vermont as a 3D designer working on an industrial design team after landing an internship with them right out of school. In college I forced a bit of a double major, graduating with a degree in multimedia and graphic design, but taking all of the 3D art and animation classes I could, obsessively intrigued, but not yet knowing how I could fuse and blend them together.

What are your plans for the coming year?
I’m giving this residency my everything at the moment, and seeing what unfolds. I feel like I’ve been falling down a wonderful rabbit hole the past few years, doing one thing that leads to another, staying as selective as I can and following everything I’m most excited about that comes my way. This residency was the first big step of me actively seeking out and going after a bigger thing, and I’m excited to see where I end up come May 2017. I definitely don’t have a five year plan, but a few overarching goals, and I’m pushing every month as hard as I can with those in mind.

Syd Weiler – digital illustrator

Why eschew analogue tools? What draws you to digital design methods?

I was working on a game and freelancing while studying at Ringling College of Art and Design in May 2016. During my five years there, I switched majors midway from animation to illustration, then married them with the work I started making. I didn’t have time to wait for watercolour to dry or make mistakes with traditional tools. I sat down, and figured out how to do what I was doing with watercolour and gouache with pixels. It saved me hours, and I stayed on top of things. You can save versions, undo what you don’t like, and control everything, which was invaluable to me as a freelancer and a student, and now as a professional. 

How is your residency going? What projects are you working on at the moment?

It’s going excellently! I’ve faced a lot of challenges I didn’t expect, but I’m adaptable. My residency project is called Before & After just finished a drawing series called The Log Book, which has been developed into a publication. I’m working on a series of drawings called Cardens (car gardens), and a gif sketch series called Weeds n’ Wildflowers.  I’m also building a streaming community around my Twitch channel, and attempting to establish ‘mobile streaming’ where I go outside with my Surface Pro 4, make a digital plein air painting, which people can watch live. I’m also attempting to draw all the original Pokemon, but that’s more of a side thing.  

How does this project relate to your wider work?

I’m mostly just attempting to draw as much as I can, because my big goal for this year is to figure out how it is I draw and make images naturally. I like structure, so I’m trying to give myself room to explore and experiment within bodies of work, each with new challenges and aspects I haven’t figured out before. I’m becoming efficient with many technical aspects of making the work, and this is carrying over into each new thing I do.

Why did you apply for the Adobe Creative Residency?

I was searching for post-grad opportunities and wasn’t sure where my work would apply. This seemed like a dream position, which I had no optimism of obtaining, so I applied, but didn’t lean on the application. The interviews were a huge surprise.  

What are your plans for the coming year?

To draw, experiment, explore and create as much as I can without getting too tired. To share my work and methods with as many people as possible. 

Adobe Create magazine will be following Craig and Syd’s projects as they develop — keep up to date at