At Danger, we love good design as much as we love screen printing. We work with a number of great companies and designers that care for a quality product as much as we do. Robby Davis is one of those designers. Robby, who is based in Louisville, Kentucky, currently works for a small design agency known as Forest Giant. We recently had the privilege to print a project for Louisville Cream, a small batch gourmet ice cream company, who commissioned Robby for their new film noir-inspired shirts.
We found some time to chat with Robby to learn more about his creative process and inspiration.
First off, how did this project come about? Was it through Forest Giant, the design studio you work for or did it happen through a personal relationship with Louisville Cream?
It happened through a personal relationship with Louisville Cream by way of a buddy of mine, Bryan Patrick Todd. He did their branding a few years back and referred them to me for a character-based shirt design for a new ice cream flavor they are planning to promote this Fall.
The theme for this project was Film Noir—are you a fan of Noir films?
Not necessarily, but I do appreciate them. The visual style of the genre is something I’m drawn to. I found myself really liking the old posters and other visual inspiration I was finding while doing research for this project.
At first glance, your illustration style is very raw and playful. How would you describe your style?
It’s tough for me to describe, but the way you put it sounds pretty good. Haha! My illustrations tend to be dark mixed with playful/ironic humor. They are full of imperfections and rough around the edges just the way I like it.
Your style seems to thrive when it comes to illustrating characters. Where does your inspiration come from for these characters?
Most likely all the early 90s cartoons I watched growing up. Classics like: The Animaniacs, Earthworm Jim, Booger Man, Beavis and Butthead, Ren and Stimpy, The Tick, and so many more! Sometimes inspiration also comes from people I see or meet, things they say, lyrics from songs, etc.
How would you describe your design process?
It’s always evolving, but I always start by trying to understand the scope and how success will be measured up front (by the client and for myself). Then, a more formal plan gets documented as phases. This particular project was pretty straightforward and went something like this.
- Created a Dropmark gallery to collect Film Noir inspiration
- Sketched out some loose pencil sketches
- Refined those quickly on the iPad Pro using Procreate before presenting three ideas
- Created the final design on a Cintiq using Photoshop
- Set up vector files in Illustrator. Created shirt mockups for placement. Made printer and printing process recommendations.
Who are your biggest influences?
Those have changed throughout the years, but I’m always inspired by the local art, design, and tech community in Louisville where I live. I’ve had the pleasure of being around some very talented artists, designers, and software engineers over the years. I’ve learned that no matter your discipline, creativity and craftsmanship play a huge role. Being surrounded by peers that value those things and strive to continue learning through experimentation are big influences on me.
How did you start off illustrating?
I’ve drawn little characters since I was pretty young. I got more serious with it after graduating college and was working in advertising doing design work. I was feeling pretty unfulfilled creatively and started making prints of characters and selling them at local art fairs.
What’s next for Robby Davis? Any interesting personal projects coming up?
One of my primary freelance clients is a local brewery in Louisville called Against the Grain. I’ve been working with them since 2011 doing their branding and packaging design. It’s been great and has allowed me to combine my love of design, illustration, and branding in a rewarding way. We’re working on a new label now for a beer called Atilla the Hen. (You can see more Against the Grain work via Instagram or robbydavis.com)
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to wrap up some illustration and design work for a local music festival called Forecastle that just took place in July. It was an awesome experience that I feel very fortunate to have been a part of. You can read more about the Forecastle project on the Forest Giant blog.
Watch the print process