Interview: Dylan Taylor

Dylan Taylor is a New Zealand born illustrator and designer living and working in Berlin.

Graduating from technical college in New Zealand with a BA in Visual Communication, he acquired a broad skillset which has served him well through a varied career in graphics, interactive and digital design and advertising. After his visa expired whilst working in London, Dylan relocated to Berlin to set himself up as freelance illustrator and hasn’t looked back since.

Tell us a little bit about your background experience and route into illustration and design?

I am originally from the quaint little Pacific paradise that is New Zealand, which is where I was raised & educated. I’ve taken a very meandering route through different creative professions. In New Zealand I was a print based graphic designer, artist, & gallery curator for two & a half years. I then packed up & moved to London where I really knew nobody. I realised it’s pretty hard to set up there when you don’t have any connections, but I found a good job as an interactive & digital designer in advertising for 2 years, but during this time I realised how much I missed drawing & painting, how much time I was spending looking at illustrators portfolios and wishing that I was doing their job. When my work VISA expired, I relocated to Berlin to start freelancing in illustration & design.

I realised how much I missed drawing & painting; how much time I was spending looking at illustrators portfolios and wishing that I had their job.

How do you start your day?

I wake up, have a shower, make breakfast, check emails, go outside for a walk, read some internet, reply to emails, start working. I usually take a break to cook something for lunch, I’m a self professed-food nerd, so this is an important part of my routine. Other sidelines are that I get sucked into the internet very easily. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – they’re all horribly addictive time-thieves that tempt me frequently. But I usually try to finish up my work day around 6:30pm, although it’s often not the case.

Editorial illustration can be quite a fast turn around – describe the challenges with this type of work?

It can be really tight, I think the biggest challenge is communicating an initial ideas or “roughs” to a client without working it up too close to a finished state. I mean, how rough is too rough? On one hand you don’t want to leave too much up to the client’s imagination or risk that they don’t understand your intention, so you spend more time “fleshing it out”, but it can really counterproductive if the client has other ideas & just wants to work in an iterative process. It comes down to good communication even when deadlines are tight.

Is illustration something you have always wanted to pursue?

Yes and no. I was always obsessed with drawing, I loved comics as a kid and I almost studied Fine Arts Painting instead of Visual Communication – there’ s really no illustration scene in New Zealand, or any Universities that have specialist degrees in it. I was 17 when I started college and although there were classes for illustration within my degree, the teachers were really old fashioned, they did everything in water colours on paper and their focus was really on narrative illustration; their experience was purely with illustrating children’s books. It seemed like the only viable career path option for illustrators in NZ and it wasn’t something that excited me at all – bear in mind, the internet hadn’t really blown up yet, & illustration wasn’t as popular or visible as it is now, so it was a bit harder to gauge what the story was abroad. I ended up exhibiting drawings & paintings as an artist for a few years, whilst working as a designer by day.

My artwork was much more organic; over time I became more influenced by graphic illustration & eventually started drawing on the computer, which gave my drawing & design much more continuity.

Describe where you work – do you share a studio or work from home?

Sometimes I freelance on site with people, the rest of the time I work from home. I have a big sunny room overlooking a small park, it’s really the nicest space I’ve had yet. I can listen to music, stare out the window. There are a few really nice parks within 10-15 mins walk when I need to take a break or get some human interaction!

Dream project? Who would you most like to work with / for and why?

I have a “bucket list” of dream jobs. Being so interested in food, I’d love to collaborate with restaurants & bars who are open to illustrative visual identities, I’d also like to create a wine range or beer packaging, labels, bottle caps, that sort of thing. Postage stamps would be another awesome project. Can you imagine designing currency! How far out would that be to make something that’s literally in the hands of millions of people every day… I love patterns, & it’s something I have just started playing around with recently, & I’m going to work more with this year. Kenzo & Marimekko make really fun textiles, I imagine working for either of them would be awesome, & record cover designs for WARP records has always been one of my dream projects actually.

Highlight of 2013/2014 so far?

I can safely say it’s going to be spending 2.5 weeks in New York for the first time this April/May. I’ll be catching up with some friends that I haven’t seen for a long time, meeting some other illustrators whom I really admire, taking in the sights/smells/sounds of the city, & probably going bankrupt spending all of my money on all of the delicious food NYC has to offer.


Posted on Apr 18th, 14 by | Twitter: @lisahassell

Founder & director of Inkygoodness, Lisa is a published writer and arts journalist, focusing on creative business, graphic art and illustration and design education. Her words regularly appear in Computer Arts, Creative Bloq, Digital Arts and IdN.

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