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  • Writer's pictureTifarah Naava

A Drty Brd's Cool World

An illustration is a decoration, interpretation or visual explanation of a text, concept or process, designed for integration in published media, such as posters, flyers, magazines, books, teaching materials, animations, video games and films.

Illustration as an art form is undergoing something of a resurgence in popularity, particularly with Millennials looking for original, affordable artworks as an alternative to posters and edition prints. Illustrations produced during ‘the golden age of illustration’ between 1890 and 1940 are undergoing a spike in interest. Now, there are male and female illustrators of all ages, and nationalities gaining popularity, their work is exposed not only by celebrities but throughout social media platforms. Especially, Instagram being one of the most famous pictorial sites. It is an outlet, as well as, an opportunity for artists to have a global portfolio.

I recently had the pleasure to do a Q&A with an illustrator whom is gaining notoriety for designing logos and decals for the underground world of fast cars and drag racing. Let me introduce you to Fred Smith of DrtyDrd Design.


1. Where did you get the name or why did you name your company Drty Brds Design?

I have always had an alias mainly due to my background in graffiti subculture. I adopted that particular name after hearing it in a Ludicris song. At first I was just planning on having a tshirt line but as freelance business expanded I decided to just use the name for everything I do.

2. How would you describe your style?

My style as I see it is a mash up of classic pinup art, comic book art, Saturday morning cartoons, low brow art and anime.

3. What or Whom inspired your style?

Some of my influences are Robert Crumb, Mike Giant, Sam Flores, Jeremy Fish, Mtv cartoons of the late 90’s, Cool World, WW2 pinup nose art and car culture. I also find inspiration in my everyday life from music to just random stuff I see through out the day. I just try to always keep my eyes open for new ideas.

4. What do you want to be known for?

Making art that the everyday people will dig.

5. Where do you see your company/brand in 5 years?

In 5 years I’d like to still be designing tees and decals. Hopefully I’ll also be able to expand to other products as well. I’m also planning on starting an animated series. Right now my main customer base is in the import car scene and I really don’t see that changing anytime soon. More than likely as the brand expands I’ll be moving away from freelance work but I’ll always keep the option open for the right clientele.

6. What has been the hardest part of becoming a designer?

I’d have to say the hardest part is being comfortable and confidant in my skills. Like most artist I’m my own worst critic. I can work on a piece for days and think I’ve final created something that will put the world on notice, only to take a look at my IG feed and suddenly feel completely inadequate as an artist. Fortunately that’s the same thing that drives me. So it’s not all bad. Lol

7. What would you tell your younger self when it comes to being a designer?

Always fallow your gut. Because conventional wisdom is overrated. Also draw more.

8. Why graphic design?

Ever since high school I’ve had a love for graphic design. Back then I was really into graffiti and the subculture around it. A big part of that scene at that time was tshirts. Brands like Ecko and PNB were bringing graffiti artist work to the mainstream and showed that one could make a living selling art to everyday people. It really opened my eyes to the potential of using my art for making product. I realized that more people could see my work if it were on something like a tshirt as opposed to hanging in a gallery or painted on a wall. Fortunately my school had a Computer graphics class that taught Photoshop and Illustrator among other things. As I got older I was asked to do more and more work for people and found that I really enjoyed creating thing for people. I guess you could say I was destined to do this.

9. What is your process when designing/creating for a client?

I like to get an idea of what the client is looking for and what needs to be included in the design. After that I kind of just do whatever I want inside those parameters. I’ll start off with a few rough sketches of different ideas and we start working from there. We usually go back and forth a few times until the client is happy. Really the hardest part most times is getting the client to tell me what they really want. I’ve found that outside of a fast food restaurant most people are rarely asked what they really want.

10. Who are your favorite illustrators, artist or designers?

Robert Crumb, Mike Giant, Sam Flores, Jeremy Fish

You can visit instagram @drty.drd or DrtyBrdDesign Shop here:

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