Communicating Design

I found a very interesting and inspiring read in Dork Magazine | Issue 5. Tyler Askew is a young and accomplished New Yorker, living his dreams as a DJ, a writer, an editor, and a graphic designer/art director. To be all that you hoped for is true success. Tyler is an inspriation for any young dilettante.


picture-13Tyler is an inspiration for any young dilettante who thinks he can’t have a career that encompasses all of his interests. He is a DJ, a writer, an editor, and a graphic designer/art director. At the core of all of Askew’s endeavors is a painstaking attention to detail. It can be seen in the thoughtful and innovative design associated with his club night Rude Movements. You can hear it when he’s spinning, you can tell he loves every record he plays. His rebranding of Bill Blass infused the label with a classic yet modern aesthetic. We met a few months back on one of the first warm days of the year for an early dinner at Rice, Fort Greene. I had the shrimp dumplings and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc; Tyler had the miso soup and the tofu steak.

More often than not, young and accomplished New Yorkers can be overbearing, pretentious, and shallow. I really believe some of them think that being as ostentatious as possible is their single purpose in life. Tyler is nothing like that. He’s an affable, humble dude that exudes everyman coolness. He grew up in Atlanta and was a big patron of the Yin Yang Café, home to the city’s soul jazz scene that produced artists like Donnie and India Arie. “Atlanta is amazing to me. I have to give a lot of credit to Atlanta and the whole scene. Yin Yang was like the first place I ever DJ’ed. Back in the 90’s it was a total wealth of soul and musicians. It’s a more homegrown thing. The thing about Atlanta is that you have tons of talent there but it’s not like, you know, they’re not on that whole ambitious path like New York where you have a lot of talent but you also have a lot of hustle.”

His discovery of London magazine, Straight No Chaser proved to be pivotal in his journey as an artist. “I was a hip hop kid, going to hip hop shows and then I discovered Straight No Chaser at a record store in Atlanta. When I discovered Chaser, I learned about the whole London thing that was going on in the late 80’s/early 90’s, jazz-dance and hip hop soul, Giles Peterson and all of that. And that just became my fascination. I really started learning about London in high school. By the time I got done with high school, I knew I wanted to be there. I ended up developing a relationship with Straight No Chaser and Swifty, the art director. So I ended up going to London during the summers, working with him and getting a taste for design. That was like mind-boggling. I got my first client working over there and that’s where it all came together.”

Talking to Tyler is like talking to an old friend. Halfway through our conversation I swore that we’d gone to junior high school together and traded comic books, sandwiches, and played video games after school. The conversation quickly became the kind of tangential back-and-forth you overhear and can’t help listening to. We talked about our disgust for Myspace, friends that we have in common, the lack of diversity in career development in high schools, and table tennis. We got back on topic when we began to discuss the impact of the Internet on print media and design in general. “I’d like to think that print will never die, kind of like vinyl. From a design point-of-view I love print. There’s nothing that beats a magazine. I see online being more of a force, but like with anything, only the strong survive. Myspace freaks me out honestly. It’s amazing and I talk to people everyday and it comes up in every conversation. Every email I get has a Myspace link in it. It’s exciting on one hand but I don’t know it’s like…I’ve heard the word addiction related with Myspace a lot recently.”

We continued to talk design. “I analyze everything and I feel America is lacking in an overall design sense. When you go to Europe or Japan (which I haven’t been) or other parts of Asia, everything is a lot more well designed. America’s really about bigger and is kind of ostentatious in their design sense. I look at everything and I’m always thinking about ways things can be improved.” Tyler continues, “I got into design through music. So I’m really into the music first and really I can credit it to looking at jazz record sleeves and what Swifty was doing. Then I went to art school and got formal training and developed my passion for the art side of it. The two, the music and the design, are really hand-in-hand for me. It evolved into doing logos for record labels, different things. Then when I got to New York and started working in the professional world, I got more into brand identity. Identity is basically like a visual language for a company. So everything from your mark, to your colors, to the typography of all communications – identity is everything that makes up who you are, your personality. For a company or a brand it’s like a visual personality. I do less music and record sleeves and more fashion campaigns. I’m branching out. I want to do more editorial stuff. I want to have retail space eventually.”

Growing up New York has given me a unique perspective on the city. I love it for it’s diversity and culturally you won’t find another city like it in the states. But I’m displeased with the faux exclusivity and the wannabe Studio 54 elitist ethos that’s so pervasive right now. Yes, I know I’m cynical, but I’m entitled to my opinion, right? Tyler’s take, “New York is definitely a lot of different things, there’s a lot of hype, a lot of really ambitious kind of folk and I think that’s a good thing and a bad thing. I feel really inspired and driven in New York because I’m around people that are really doing it. I also feel jaded some days when I see so many hustles, so many people that might not have the skills or whatever but they know how to work it. Atlanta is definitely more real in that sense. But I think that has more to do with New York being what it is, like the biggest, craziest place in the world. Everybody is trying to do something.” Talking to Tyler was mad cool. He has helped restore my faith in New York. This city is better because of people like him.

el fin.

Source via: Dork Magazine


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