Zach Halfhill is a wild child, multi-disciplinary graphic designer and artist working in Nashville, Tennessee. His style is a crazy amalgamation of analog motifs, early net nostalgia and punk music (to name just a few). He spends his time designing at Journeys, tweeting his latest food concoctions and hanging out with his dog, Bent-li.
What are your early influences and what got you interested in art/design?
I’d have to say that all of my early influences were music, which was influenced by Tony Hawk games and the Beastie Boys CD my dad gave me. I always drew and did the whole “I’m gonna be an artist” thing but it wasn’t til MySpace days that I really started designing things. I was in a band and we needed art so what’s the most logical thing to do when you’re in middle school with no money? Download Photoshop and make something.
I’m always curious about place and how it can influence a person’s work. How did growing up in the Midwest influence you?
I have a rat-tail and I wore a Dupont Jeff Gordon jacket to the office today; I am undoubtedly Midwest. I grew up in the middle of nowhere and had access to the internet. I think resenting the Midwest and wishing to live in NY or any “city” so badly as a kid made me really appreciate it once I left.
Does your work revolve around any specific themes? I notice on your dribbble account a handful of your work has political overtones.
My work revolves around emotion and realism. Some would say it revolves around lack of emotion and nihilism, but I would argue that’s the same thing. I like to portray this with bold, eclectic and nostalgic iconography. The fun part for me is the ability to approach that in a maximalist or minimalist manner. I feel like, as an ally, I have a duty to use my platform as much as possible in the everyday fight for the people I love’s human rights and the rights for all living creatures.
One of my favorite works of yours recently was the zine you made for your girlfriend. Can you describe what it’s about and the process of creating it?
So we actually met on Instagram, very 2016 of us, I know. She lives in Ontario, Canada. Long story short, we finally got to meet up over Thanksgiving (American Thanksgiving) weekend. A month goes by and it’s Christmas. I really wanted to make her something and I really wanted to do a project on newsprint, so it just came together in my head. I wanted to design something that was simple, called out the dates she visited, used photos I had taken and had something funny (Drake lyric centerfold). I also decided to make a reversible poster that was folded in the middle but not attached. Picking the colors and paper is lowkey the best part. That and printing with my dude Josh at @risologyclub here in Nashville is always fun. I love riso printing because the texture is amazing and its basically bootleg screen-printing.
A lot of your work is creatively combining analog and digital processes. Your entire design portfolio is even shot on a film camera. In such a technological age, what keeps you interested in more hands on processes?
I’m mortified at the idea of just sitting at a computer all day typing and clicking and that’s pretty much what I do, so I have to keep myself hands on. There are some projects where I’m using my scanner more than my laptop or projects I wait to publish because I want the film shot. I do not shoot digital unless it’s on my iPhone or project dependent, and will truly benefit from being shot digitally.
You have such a definitive wild style in your work. Do you have any advice for anyone struggling to find their own style or being afraid to experiment outside their comfort zone?
First off, I totally felt that way a few years ago, so thanks for saying that. With that being said, I had to view things completely different before I could progress and grow into any kind of set style. I used to think I needed to be diverse to find a job and then I thought I needed to find a style or I wouldn’t stand out and then I thought I would get stuck in that style and never grow as an artist. Finally, I stopped thinking about all of that shit and just made stuff that I liked, and that I wanted to make. It’s so easy to get caught up in that toxic mindset where you feel the need to find yourself in a certain time, or keep up with certain people. If you just do what you want to do you’ll be happier and find your style eventually. That’s what I did.
Any future projects or collaborations in the works?
I don’t know when this will go live but I’m involved in a 7-person show called “Date of the Art 2017” this weekend (1/14) at a record/vintage shop here. The artists are showing their interpretation of a 2017 calendar. Other than that it sometimes goes down in the DM with collab talk but nothing serious on my radar right now. I’d love to change that.
What is it like working as a designer for Journeys? I’m a big fan of the video you were featured in recently and laughed so hard when I watched it.
Hahaha. That video was so fun to make. If you haven’t seen the previous one, with the water hose and white t, do yourself a favor and check that out too. Working as a designer at Journeys is a little ironic because I used to work at one of the stores while I was in art school. Never did I think I would be designing for my mall job in college, but here we are. There are some great perks, and it’s provided me with some cool opportunities, like meeting/shooting Tigers Jaw and volunteering for some great causes.
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