Keegan Bowen

Bozeman, MT | 

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What made you want to become a graphic designer?

“It was graphic design school that made me want to be a graphic designer. And it was my own curiosity about design practices that carried me to design school.”

What are your favorite aspects of being a designer?

“The wide range of career opportunities, and also just the fact that it’s a creative and profitable career path-- it’s pretty hard to find those. The graphic design world has been changing so fast that it’s hard for everyone keep up with. It’s kind of a thrill that way because whoever can learn the software and techniques that are selling quickly enough, those are the people who profit. It’s like a game.”

Do you think school has helped prepare you for entering the real world?

“I don’t think thesis is a direct preparation for the real world, it’s more for preparing your portfolio for the real world. My thesis project is going to be my most important portfolio piece. Most of my real-world experience is from internships and freelancing. If anything, thesis forced me to delve deeply into a single concept and try to come up with different ways to display that content, which has been useful.”

How would you describe your process when working on a project?

“My process is a combination of problem-solving and self-expression. Problem-solving comes first, and the expression fits in wherever I can get away with it. It’s important for your own mental sanity to put more of yourself in a project: clients usually just care about the functionality and the strategy, that they’re getting what they’re paying for -- that’s what satisfies them. But whatever I can put in there of myself, that’s what satisfies me.”

Would you say that you have a personal design "style" in your work?

“My thesis has been about an expressive style with a scientific one, and I think that’s gonna be a key stylistic combination for me. I think painterly and expressive styles are pretty common in my work, as well as futuristic and ‘high-tech’ imagery. Thesis has forced me to balance my styles together.”

For designers, do you believe it's more important to work on projects you're passionate about or take whatever work is available?

“It’s not a relaxing industry: working in-house could become at least temporarily relaxing, but you also become a work slave. My ideal is probably doing in-house illustrations: that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 7 years, and I’m going to try and make a career out of it. The way the market is, I’ll have to do more than just that. I think it’s important to pursue clients that you get along with and share a vision with, rather than have to compromise visions. But you have to do what you have to do to pay the bills, so working with completely opposite-minded clients is a reality of the industry. Hopefully it becomes less frequent with experience, haha.”

The graphic design industry is doing more digitally-based work these days: are you excited about the evolution of design, or do you like more traditional mediums?

“I've spent a lot of time looking for jobs, and probably 90–95% of them were web design or web-related. Then again, those are the jobs that companies are going out and searching for; it’s not out of the question that there is print and illustration work. But it’s that work that you have to fight for; those jobs aren’t as advertised.”

Do you have any favorite designers, artists, or resources you like to get inspiration from?

“Dave McKean: he’s probe my biggest influence, as far as design. Illustrators like Ian miller, H.R. Geiger, and John Jude Palencar.”

What are your plans for the future?

“There are many things I love to do. To me, design is the structure that holds all of my passions together and keeps me moving forward.”

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