Work inspiration with
John Clark IV

My name is John Clark IV, and I am the founder and Creative Director of Hop & Jaunt Creative Agency in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Hop & Jaunt is a boutique-sized agency that specializes in visual design and story-telling.

I have also been working as an illustrator for over six years. I have a self-published children’s book “What the Sleepy Animals Do at the Audubon Zoo” which has sold over 12,000 copies in its first year and ?.

How did you get started in design? What is a turning point in your professional career?

I’ve been drawing and sketching ever since I was a kid - typical childhood drawings like animals, robots, and weird monsters. My father is a draftsman at a manufacturing factory. During my high school years I apprenticed with him learning a more technical side of line art.

I worked as a graphic artist at a screen printing shop during my university years while I earned my degrees. I have an Associate’s degree in Studio Art and a Bachelor’s in Graphic Design & Advertising from the University of South Alabama.

After 10 years of working my way from graphic artist to marketing director, I decided to take a sabbatical. This was a true turning point in my career. I had always wanted to do some traveling and was very interested in sailing. I spent a year crewing on sailboats - hitchhiking from island to island in the Southern Caribbean.

While traveling, my partner Alyson and I wrote a travel & design blog titled Hop and Jaunt. We mostly posted about our experiences hopping from island to island and jaunting across the coast of South America, but we also used the blog as an outlet to showcase our design work. Over time we grew a following of readers; and then (to our surprise) clients began contacting us.

From there Hop & Jaunt slowly evolved into a visual design agency. We returned to the States and moved to New Orleans where we have been running our design company for the past six years.

What is your ideal work environment? Do you prefer to work in your design studio all day long or prefer to mix a few activities?

Generally, I prefer to work in my studio all day. Mornings are my favorite. Our office space is in downtown New Orleans on the top floor of a historic building. We have large guillotine windows that let in a lot of light and has a nice view of Poydras Ave. There are a lot of really bright, fun and creative people who work in our space, and the office is dog friendly, which is great.  I have a tendency to get too focused on my work and not step away for hours. Having other people around is refreshing because they remind me to stop to take a break once in a while.

Where does your work inspiration come from? ( Do you believe in ‘inspiration’ at all?)

I do believe in inspiration. Designing is a job that can require a lot of work. It definitely helps to feel motivated and compelled to be creative with that work. I think inspiration can come from anywhere, but there are a few places I seek it out.

Behance and Instagram are certainly convenient places. There is a lot of great talent out there and these sites have made it much easier to search and find new and interesting works, but I often find most of my inspiration comes from going on a walk or on my morning bike rides to the office. New Orleans is a city that has a lot of architectural beauty and charm, and certainly many interesting characters. I can usually find something to inspire me to begin designing with enthusiasm.   

Where are your favorite places in your city or outside?

This is hard to narrow down because there are so many great cafes and bars and interesting streets to wander down. I will say, New Orleans is definitely a front porch community. After a long day, it’s nice to sit on the front porch with a glass of bourbon and watch the sunset.

I have a small woodworking shed in my backyard where I like to build various things,  furniture, and wood toys. Office life can be so hectic and rushed. I find woodworking relaxing because it takes its own time. I can’t rush it. It makes me slow down, disconnect from a computer, and enjoy working with different tools.

Who are the designers you admire the most?

There are several illustrators that I really admire. Christopher Lee is a Los Angeles based illustrator who has a really wonderful style. He does a series of throwback cartoon characters that is really fun. Steve Simpson is an illustrator in Ireland who does such great compositions and the level of detail in his art is fascinating. Derek of derekart.com has a great way of capturing a feeling or mood in his super retro illustration style. Looking at his work is like going on a trip to another time. And Moonbot Studios in Shreveport, Louisiana has a whole team of talented people. The stories and work that comes from them is so polished and mesmerizing.