Local graphic designer Cody Amos has had quite the artful life in the city. I share a very dear relationship with Cody. Our personal friendship as spanned over five years, and our evolution in our crafts were shared while attending the Art Institute of Dallas. Both of us members of the graduating class of 2009. Cody and I also share something else, or rather a special someone. Silver screen Starlet Arami Carrales is the long-time girlfriend of this local art marvel. His talents have grown far outside the box, post college, even surprising this fellow classmate. His artful tools now include engineering, accessory design, and product development. However, don’t let these technical titles fool you, Cody’s artful aesthetics are shinning through each innovative product presented. Our talk on graphic artists now becoming big names in product design, not mention fashion, lead to a discussion of innovative ideas. Today, we chat all about his creative process, his passion for the outdoors, and a very special project in the works that will for sure spark the innovative artist in all of us In The City.
Sean Charles: We actually graduated together from the Art Institute of Dallas in 2009, hows life post grad?
Cody Amos: Its good, I didn’t know what to expect coming out of school, just so happens I got a call right out of grad from one of the employers at the portfolio show, They said I was the only person right for the job. Cause I had something going one which was Thumb Prints.
SC: You graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design, What made you get into that field?
CA Its funny , you know, ever since I was young I had been drawing. In high school I was drawing a little more, however I still didn’t know I wanted to do that as career. The turning point after I graduated [High school] I imimadianlly went to work at a plastic factory in Arlington that had nothing to do with my current industry.
SC: A Plastic factory?
CA: Yea [Laughs] they made bins and all kinds of “plastic” things. I hated it, I had all kinds of jobs, but this one was my first real full-time job. I knew I didn’t want to stay there and at the time I was debating whether to go into the air force , or going to florida to a motorcycle school to learn how to build motorcycles, my other option was to attend art school, and I really didn’t know a whole lot about graphic design at that point. A cousin of mine was visiting and showed me his portfolio, he graduated from Texas Tech in graphic design. That was my first exposure to what graphic design was. I realized that’s what I wanted to do. It put a name., a job, a career behind what I wanted to do as an artist that made sense.
SC: Do you think now you made the right decision?
CA: Defiantly, and it happened so quickly, I really didn’t have enough time to look back really, I called AID after I saw my cousin’s portfolio, and that following week, I quit my job at the plastic factory [laughs] and moved to Dallas and really, well you know how fast the school was
SC: OH YEA, Please don’t remind me [Laughs] eleven week quarters, those were tough!
CA: I never had time to second guess anything [laughs]!
SC: You have great experience in the industry, and you are taking on several approaches to graphic design, many people think that art form is just logos or other corporate related projects but you have actually got into accessory deign. Tell me about that.
CA: Yes, That caught me off guard, one company that approached me was an accessories company here Dallas, and I was excited to work right out of college. So, I took it. I realized that graphic design just a small narrow industry. You could apply it to many areas, and accessories became this new hobby of mine. I started paying attention to them a lot more, specially belts, wallets, and leather goods. It was really an interesting turn of events, because at first I had no knowledge of accessories or fashion. All of a sudden im thrown in the middle of it. You mentioned logos, and branding, and in school I did those and at that time I thought that’s really all I was going to be doing. But with my experience now in the field I’ve done everything from in-house magazine photography, to styling product, to showroom design. I would go to New York and map out the 48th floor of the Chrysler Building. and I would have to print graphics to cover the walls, so then it became like interior design. So it’s interesting that graphic design took me to fashion design, to almost interior design its amazing!
SC: You travel a lot, Every time you travel to say, New York, you are so busy. Do you ever get to see New York?
CA: I do, every time I go, usually I work long hours, there are times were I don’t even have a moment even for just myself. But several times I have got to walk around, I spent my birthday in New York, by myself, and went to Brooklyn, found a bar and a great time. I love Brooklyn!
SC: Brooklyn has become so popular, I have to say, I hear great things, partially thanks to GIRLS [LAUGHS] You work primarily in menswear, I wanted to ask do you see a big graphic trend in Women’s wear as well?
CA: Absolutely, I get to watch some style sites and trend forecasting, and I watched fall/winter 2014, and I definitely saw a lot of graphic prints, and photo reels printed with polka-dot overlays, I think people are looking for bold and busy printed statements.
SC: I would like to ask, even though I think its sort of cliché, but since you travel a lot to other cities like New York and San Francisco for work and fun. What you do think of the scene here in DFW compared to other cities?
CA: I think its cool, there is a whole lot of stuff going on here, I’m connected to a lot of people here. A lot of my friends here in Dallas are in the music industry and just through them I get to see a lot, and see a lot of different people, creative people, come together. It’s a cool scene here in Dallas, seeing a mix of everyone in fashion, music and all coming together. But of course you go to New York or San Fransisco which is another place iI love to go to, and they all differ, every city has its great scene.
SC: Do you have any favorite fashion designers, or brand, who are working with graphics that stand out to you?
CA: You know, I’m really visual when I’m say shopping around. So I really don’t have specific names in mind. In fact a big website I love is JackThreads, it’s updated everyday and it gives me a great idea on what people are buying. I’m the same way with music I don’t have a clear set of a music catalog, it’s all what I like and what sounds interesting, that’s how I shop really.
SC: I have noticed that a lot of the trendy names out there don’t even classify themselves to be fashion designers, or even in the fashion industry. Such as Shepard Fairey of Obey, his work is everywhere now, his mural in oak cliff is stunning. And his clothing line is genius, bringing those murals to life in street wear. The late Keith Herring is also turning heads again with a resurgence of his work in apparel. I love that we are seeing a big graphic moment.
CA: I have a signed Shepard Fairey print, its such an awesome piece, it was gift I cherish!
SA: I’m such a big fan of his really! They have always said fashion is wearable art, but this is taking the literal form. What are your thoughts on this huge graphic art in fashion moment?
CA: I think its very cool, look what it’s done for these artists. It goes along with graffiti artists, the exposure they have had, people are saying,wow that print would make a great shirt or dress. Such as my work I cant wait to start utilizing it in these areas. Some patterns I create would look great wrapped around something like fashion, so I yes I think its cool that graphic artists are getting respect in this way.
SC: It’s really is like a cult following, for instance I was introduced to Shepard Fairey not by his art but from is clothing line, I feel graphic artist are reaching out to people who wouldn’t normally come across their works in the normal arena. It’s genius, and now I’m obsessed [laughs]. With all that asked and said, you have a business idea to branch out in that creative way of things: Tell me about it.
CA: Yes, well Thumb Prints is an idea I’ve had for long time. It’s really the first one I have felt strongly about, so much so I was willing to fully invest in. I have been developing it for about three years now and basically it’s a screen printing kit, and my kind of motto is from pack to print in seconds, its fast printing, and fast printing on several different things from flat patterns, or shower curtains, table-cloth, T-shirts, and really utilize it in some many different ways and personalize it. People will be able to customize items to their preference, any item.
SC: So in a way you are sparking Peoples creative juice, people like me, lets say, who want to explore screen printing.
CA: Exactly, the whole reason why I had this screening printing idea, was that one of my first jobs, while still in college, was at a screen printing shop. I had actually taught myself screen printing from YouTube [Laughs] and got interested in it, and decided I wanted to work in shop. So I learned all the basics in screen printing and realized what kits were out there on the market and the struggles I had trying to just see what it was about. I spent a lot of money just trying to get one successful print. I though to myself if there was way that people could get the joy out of screening printing without having to go through all the research, time and money, were a lot of people end of failing and discouraged after one failed print and gave it up, My product will give people a taste of screen printing and a taste of creativity and putting the paint brush in their hand and let them explore and open up their mind. I have hopes as well that learning the basics of screen printing will lead people to explore more in screen printing and inspire them to do more.
SC: With all of this, Do you ever miss the web side of graphic design?
CA: You know, I really don’t [Laughs] I have a hard enough time keeping my Facebook updated, I like tangible things, and I like doing something that also last a while, and everything is so fast paced online.
SC: Who are you some of your favorite artists?
CA: You know, There is a whole side of me that is completely fascinated by mechanical kinetic art, moving kinetic sculptures, Such as Alexander Calder, he makes hanging mobiles, some are simple colors black, red, primary colors. but the physics behind it amazes me. There will be long levers and counter weights all that stuff behind it, I love figuring out how that works. I in fact have made some of my own, one of which I was able to use as a show piece at the Empire State building for job. Also, Theo Jansen, he makes these amazing kinetic wind powered walking sculptures.
SC: Wow, I have to say, really in essence fashions is kinetic art. Do you think that’s why you have found yourself among the fashion industry?
CA: Absolutely, I think that’s why I have found myself in designer roles with jobs I’ve had, It’s funny you say that because once I realized that designing products were about making a blue print for factory to construct, it really sparked a new creative juice in me. It’s almost like an engineer, im not calling myself an engineer by no means [Laughs]
SC: Well a lot of artists don’t call themselves artists , Talking about engineering, innovation if you will, looking at artists such as Leonard Da Vinci who was inventor, or even Steve Jobs who made technology aesthetically pleasing. Do you think innovation itself is an art form?
CA: Oh yes of course, I think they are perfectly married together, engineering and art, developing something, I mean really you are sculpting something and bringing it to life in three dimensions, something that otherwise doesn’t exist. Whether it’s an invention or improvement on something, innovation in itself is creation.
SC: Are there any pieces looking back you proud of?
CA: Well, I was proud of that kinetic sculpture, its was funny the hardest thing I had to do was making a track for this marble to roll around the sculpture as it moved, and then completely start over in a complete loop. It was crazy because at the time that’s all I wanted to do I was so focused on it, and people doubted it would work or even look right, but once I got it and working properly it was great.
SC: Do you have a creative process you go thorough?
CA: Its weird, part of being a graphic designer is creating art for someone who you, sometimes, don’t have any interest in the subject. So sometimes finding inspiration to design something can be difficult, so I look at everything in front me, of course I do research, but when it comes down to it, I look at what is in front and see what kind of options I have and dive into it, a lot of trial and error. I don’t have a process that works every time, because most of the time something I am doing is a new project and there is not going to be a method every single time that’s going to apply to every single thing.
SC: Do you have a dream project, or, a dream employer?
CA: A huge passion of mine is the outdoors, I love camping and backpacking, so one of my biggest goals, is being in product development for a big outdoor company such as NorthFace or Colombia, design products I would love to use myself. I would love to have access to a the outdoors in a design job.
SC: Do you have any favorite products that our out right now?
CA: Yes, Eagles Nest Outfitters hammock, its amazing, and I think its starting to become much more popular, not just for outdoors, I see people now taking them to picnics. it’s a parachute martial hammock, these things are so great, when I go backpacking it serves as my bed for six to seven days, it provides a lot of ways to go camping without having to take tents. Your able to see more of the trails.
SC: I love that your are so connected to the outdoors, yet having such a mechanical and artful background, like innovation and art, it’s an unlikely marriage. Maybe Sean In The Wilderness could be a great follow-up Q&A in the summer.
CA: [Laughs] I Think that’s a great idea!