Meet Desmond Palmer, a designer wanting to “solve people’s problems" with his "design abilities”

Despite only pursuing a creative path after graduating from university, Desmond Palmer's photographically driven design work is one to behold.

30 June 2020

“What’s crazy is that from the time I was a little kid to the time I was a college grad, I had absolutely zero interest in anything art related,” Desmond Palmer, who is now a graphic designer, tells It’s Nice That. Showing no natural ability at creative expressions at a younger age, Desmond just “put in my head early that art wasn’t going to be an option for me,” he continues. “Plus I always played sports, and just figured those two worlds didn’t go together.”

Fast forward to now and creative pursuits now fill Desmond’s day-to-day. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh and halting his hobby of running – “I was bored”, he says – he went hunting for something new to dedicate his extra time to. “I remember being on VSCO and admiring all of the dope pictures people were taking,” he continues. “That made me think, ‘I wonder what kind of photos I could take if I had a camera?'” The following Christmas, the designer received one as a gift (“thanks mom and Ddad”), and so dipping his toe into the idea of a creative career began.

After figuring out how to work this camera, Desmond’s growth from possible amateur photographer to admirable graphic designer happened pretty naturally. Wanting to improve his process, he invested in Lightroom and Photoshop, before opening up Illustrator too and consequently making graphics. Photography however, as you’ll see across his portfolio, still plays a large role in Desmond’s work, and is a something he describes as “super fun and vital to my style of design”. The decision to switch concentration on mediums all developed simply from the designer wanting to try, and grow, as much as possible. “I would say that design attracted me over other forms of creative media because there are so many different things you can do with it,” he explains. “The more you can do, the more problems you solve, and the more people you can help! That’s my ultimate goal with this; to solve people’s problems with my design abilities.”

To date, this is exactly what Desmond has done – although, he's somewhat modest about his work. When asking him how he describes his output, the designer says: “I’m not quite sure I’m ready to consider what I do a real-deal ‘practice’ yet. Of course that is something I’m working towards, but I think it’s important to leave those words for the professionals in this space."

His attention to detail and desire to leave impact is palpable from his portfolio. For example, most recently the designer ran a t-shirt campaign in order to raise funds for a number of Black organisations. Designing an emblem to house this work which reads BLM in a “simple design that spoke for itself, while also using a futuristic chrome effect as a symbol of Black being the future,” it’s also one of Desmond’s favourite projects to date considering the motivation behind it. “I was able to use my design abilities to positively contribute to the movement in an impactful way, and open up some conversation with my friends and family about race in America,” he explains. “It felt good to be able to give people the opportunity to donate and contribute to a worldwide cause.”


Desmond Palmer: Rough Phases

This is an attribute that is continuing in a current project, one where Desmond is making the campaign materials for an election that a friend is running in. Based within a pharmaceutical organisation which focuses on providing healthcare to underprivileged communities, he says: “The challenge will be to pick a style that sticks out in a professional medical community, but is also fun and visually stimulating,” he tells us of the work. “I don’t want it to be too corporate or political, but I also don’t want to lose the audience with flyers, videos and campaign content that they wouldn’t really understand.”

While working out a balance for this approach currently, the designer has also been revisiting old work of his and reinterpreting it in the style he’s settled on at the moment. A pursuit which is confidence boosting in itself, “because it’s shown me how much I’ve grown as an artist in such a short time,” points out the designer. “It’s also gotten me back into the quality over quantity mentality… Redoing these posters has shown me the type of art I can make if I really focus on the detail, and don’t rush it.”

Looking forward, it’s these examples of wider collaboration, social enterprise and care which Desmond hopes his portfolio will continue to grow in. Most of all, the project he enjoys the most are those that are collaborative, whether it’s working with a clothing brand or a musical artist on an upcoming EP – projects where “everyone involved always ends up feeding off of each other’s creativity,” as he puts it. Individually, Desmond explains how he’s always thinking of “new ways to use my design abilities,” and this will be the driving force for his work in future, no matter what final entity it may develop into.

“Other than that, I will continue to provide my services to small businesses and individuals who need it,” he concludes. "I love the people I’m able to meet during this journey and I can’t wait to see where this takes me.” Considering he only very recently decided to pursue a creative path and has already experimented with photography and graphic design, we’re looking forward to seeing what he turns his talented hand to next.

GalleryAll images by Desmond Palmer
























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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.

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