An unexpected perk of creating the CV newsletter has been all the fantastic replies we get from our readers. A couple months ago we featured the work of Adam Eastburn, a designer and illustrator based in Lehi, Utah. Adam replied to the newsletter with a serendipitous thank you, and proposal to collaborate sometime. The timing couldn't have been better and we've since been working together on product and brand illustrations, stickers, as well as the long awaited CV tote bag. As the year comes to a close we thought it'd be a perfect time to sit down with Adam and get some of his thoughts on working with us, the current state of design, and show off some of the amazing work he has made for us.
First email correspondance with Adam
Hey Adam, paint us a picture of where you're at physically and mentally right now—
I'm doing an interview for read.cv, so this year is wrapping up real swell. Physically seated at my WFH desk.
How did you first get into design and illustration, and how did you first build a roster of clients?
I've always liked to draw. I love comics and animation. In university, I think it was more about just wanting to vibe with a crowd though, and the kids in the illustration program at that time weren't my vibe, lol. The design program reeked with coolness that I liked, so I studied type and failed a ton of classes, but still enjoyed it. I've been into both ever since.
At first I found clients on all the job boards of the internet. That yielded some interesting results. I also hit up friends and family, and they were very kind to find me opportunities. If I went back and did it again, I wouldn't have built a shiny resume and taken all the time to apply. Instead I would've starved myself and sunk into the work deeper, and then just done a better job posting it online everywhere. That's worked better moving forward, at least for freelance. Let the right job find you instead of fitting a mold. When you're starting out though, any experience is valuable.
Illustration for Read.cv by Adam Eastburn
How do you feel about Corporate Memphis? Is it something to avoid, or is its homogeneity actually its key to success?
Hmmm, ya. Trends happen. There's no stopping that. I've made colonies of flat/vector people. If you can afford to get hand drawn illos for your brand, do it. Invest in it. Not to say that every brand needs handmade illos. Maybe generic, obvious, flat people fits you and your audience more? I dunno.
I believe people respond to this stuff though, even if it might feel like an unnecessary aspect to focus on for a business's brand. People are smarter and can recognize stock illos, or when they look too generic and repetitive. It's so appealing when a brand really has a voice of its own. That transparency and authenticity is always being pushed for more. So, I think that means not summoning up another village of ambiguous, vector people. Each little vector villager should have a soul and a backstory now, lol. Anyways, that's my rant.
Illustrations for Read.cv by Adam Eastburn
Expanding on that a bit, how do you know when to push a client to do something more daring versus playing it safe?
As the hired creative I'm always pushing for the more daring and bigger option, because it's more interesting for me to create. Ultimately, I'll try to take the time to discuss and understand and educate, so that the final decision feels mutual.
The daring idea is exciting and inspiring, but I like to think that all of those new ideas for a brand can also feel informed, that there's an understandable structure behind their use and existence. Illustration can feel a little less informed for me than making decisions for a logo or type, it comes more organically to me.
I think it helps people to know why something works though, a reason why an illustration fits their brand. That way it's not just "artist magic", it's functional and purposeful. I have plenty of thoughts about art and design always needing to be "functional", but anyways. When working with a client, make the daring decision together, have a good reason for it.
Once the contract ends, it's up to the client to get behind it and keep things working for their brand. I like to make sure that that can happen too, and so we'll talk over brand guidelines together. That helps ensure that the client feels confident with that daring decision in the future. I also like what I draw and I want it to look good after the contract has ended, so it helps with that too.
What was the process like developing the illustrations for read.cv?
I hopped on read.cv early last year and instantly loved the aesthetic and focus. It put me at ease. At some point one of my projects was featured on a read.cv newsletter, which was a joy. I sent a msg to the team and thanked them. We eventually connected up and I met Andy Chung, who immediately sent good vibes. Those vibes coupled with my pre-existing appreciation for read.cv inspired me to want to make something for them.
The illustration style (that we decided upon) was something I had been working in for a minute, but hadn't found a use case yet. Every time I worked in it, it was very difficult and still is. Like trying to find order in mini chaos. I would just allow my hand to move energetically, but then scrape out some elegance. I really love it. I use brushes from @TrueGritTexture. Anyways, it felt like this "coffee napkin" hand drawn style worked well with the organized layout of read.cv, and that made me really happy. Creating something original for someone is enjoyable. It feels like giving something a soul or (maybe in a less ethereal sense) like painting a portrait for someone special.
Anyways, the rest is history. It is now immortalized on a tote bag.
Illustration by Adam Eastburn for Read.cv
Caption by Jonah Foss
Tote sighting in Oakland, CA
As someone who has a full-time job and two kids, what do you look for in a freelance client or side project given your limited time?
I like my kids, I want to spend time with them. I want to be a good impact on their lives. At the same time, I'm fulfilled by what I can create and happy to make money on those creations (meaning my art, not my children). When done at the right pace, both of those can rejuvenate and give more life to the other. I think the Vin Deeez would agree that family is most important.
Since I have a full-time job, I want my freelance work to be fun. That's it. I want to be excited about it. I see it as a paid hobby basically. It's good for me, but there's less and less time in the day for that stuff. If that hobby encroaches too much on the other things, I don't like it (unless it's insanely fun).
Finding clients and work isn't too hard, but finding the right clients you want to work with can be hard. There's plenty of work that people want done and they'll pay for it, but I like to build relationships and feel like I am the person that someone needs to work with and vice versa.
What have you been getting up to outside of work?
When I'm not working, I'm thinking of other creative endeavors or playing with kids. I try to go outside, but I love YouTube too much. I'm working on an animated short and a few other things.
Who are some other illustrators you think are doing great work right now?
Ok, now I'll go full fanboy. Anything that @NicolasMenard, @MrJohnnyKelly, or @kevindart make or direct - I eat that up immediately. I'm like Homer, banished to donut hell, “More.” I would make copies and buy coffees just to work under these people. So talented.
What are you listening to these days?
I like a good horror podcast. Not so much the true crime stuff, but the ghost-y stuff. "Spooked" and also "Radio Rental" are two recent ones. Other than that, maybe Death Grips? Come "blend" with me on Spotify.