Looking back on your life, when did you know that you wanted to pursue Graphic Design?
I always liked art as a kid – drawing, painting, videos games, cartooning. When I was a little older, my Dad got me a copy of Photoshop, way back when it came in a box. I self-taught myself with tutorials and doing random cool stuff. Honestly, I didn’t even know what graphic design was. My mom asked me, “what do you want to do in college?” She knew fine art wasn’t what I was interested in. I just wanted to make cool art, Pixar animations and digital creations. I took one Pixar animation class and found it really tedious so realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do. My mom suggested Graphic Design.
You have been working for Shields Design Studio since 2011. How has working for here influenced you?
I like working at Shields Design because you are not always working within one brand. Projects are from all over the spectrum. Working for clients from different industries has helped me grow and I’ve learned what works best for different audiences.
We all need other outlets beyond our work life. When did you decide to form TrueRad and where did the name come from?
Working in the industry, you do so much client work and much of it is dictated. Often you need to work within a brand and there are creative restrictions. You don’t get to do what you really want. I wanted to push myself and not lose interest. I created my own brand so I could keep exploring and keep things fresh.
I wanted something with Rad in it. I really liked RadBerry but it was already taken. I looked for a bunch of names and was having a hard time landing on one that was not already trademarked. I couldn’t decide and was dwelling on name too long. Finally, my fiancé Mike said, “you just need to pick a name already!” He was right, I needed to move forward. It was the one on the list that I guess stood out so finally, I just picked it.
Explain for us how the tagline “Art and Apparel for the Radical Minded” came about.
I like to describe my art as being radical, funky colors and funky subjects. The tag line came to me easily.
From the bandana design for the band The Elovaters to your power jackets, the lines are blurred between apparel and art. What are some of your favorite pieces?
I enjoy doing the digital illustrations. I spent most of last summer learning Procreate, so I can get better at the program. Lately my paintings are my favorite. Something has clicked and it feels like it’s working.
I notice that you can feel the movement and force in your “wave” paintings. What inspired this body of work?
I wanted to do a wave, so I tried a small 12”x12” and it came out awesome. I immediately got in my car, drove to Michael’s and bought a 4’x3’ canvas. I came through the door and Mike asked, “what are you doing with that?” I never had the confidence to work on big canvases but now I know I can. The one I recently did is very stormy and has a lot of power. All I’ve been doing during the pandemic is painting and watching Bob Ross.
Your palette for your tee shirt, bag designs and other work features neon and bright colors. Is that part of what makes the designs so unique?
I’ve always liked neon color. I was really into the brands “Volcome” and “Roxy” a surfing and snowboarding merchandise company, in the early 90s. They were grungy and edgy, the clothes were edgy, rad chick stuff. Their look has changed over time but my sister Becky and I still consider ourselves “Roxy girls”. It was the stuff I grew up on that I really like. We asked ourselves, where has that look gone? That history has helped fuel my own brand.
Can you give us a hint about what’s next on the drawing board?
I have received really good feedback from my paintings so I will continue with them. I will also keep going with the jackets, I think on my next one I will do a hand painted wave. Learning Procreate and increasing my digital illustration skills is something I continue to work on. I love hand lettering and recently took a class, even though I have terrible handwriting. It’s so cool and is a big trend right now.
How does your work tie back into the work you do at Shields Design?
I think my personal style usually brings a lot of color into my Shields Design work. I tend to lean more on the wild and creative ideas before I try anything cleaner or modern.
To see more of Ali’s work VISIT TrueRadDesigns.com