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Q&A with Adam Connor

Designer and illustrator from Western Massachusetts

My name is Adam Connor. I’m a designer and illustrator from Western Massachusetts. I currently work on design strategy and digital product/service projects with the fine folks at Mad*Pow as well as being their VP of Organizational Design where I help companies and teams figure out how to overcome various challenges to being creative, collaborative and productive.

As an illustrator I’m obsessed with kids, robots and monsters and spend my time working on stories and pictures that carry a sense of nostalgia for me.

How did you get started in design? What is your background?

I studied illustration, film and animation all through high school and into my early years in college. Then some life changes caused me to need to switch majors and I wound up graduating with a degree in Computer Science.

My tech and artistic abilities combined landed me a web design job which over time and positions evolved to the work I do today. About 3 years ago I decided I wanted to get back into illustration and while it’s been slow – because I don’t have a ton of free time – I’ve made my way back and have had fun showing and sharing my work.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’ve got a few projects for Mad*Pow going and I’m working on finishing up a book called “Discussing Design” with my best-bud and collaborator, Aaron Irizarry. It’s based on the content he and I have been speaking about at conferences and workshops over the past 5 years about the importance of critique to collaboration and the design process. We’re finishing up the illustrations and final edits now with the book hopefully hitting the shelves next month.

I’ve also got a long list of illustration projects I plan to release later this year including prints, glassware, clothing and some short stories.

What tools and software do you use for your work?

Pen and paper are my go-to for both my design and illustration work. I do a ton of sketching and note taking for all of my projects regardless of whether it’s an organizational design project, illustration, website, app, whatever. I like the speed, non-permanence and physicality of it. From there it’s pretty dependent on what I’m working on. I’d say the software I spend the most time in besides email, Evernote, Wunderlist and Google Docs would be Fireworks, Photoshop, and Coda.

What is your ideal work environment?

I like being somewhere where there aren’t a lot of people to distract me, but that I can find people to interact with easily when I need them. For the past 5 years I’ve been a telecommuter, working out of my home office/studio. I need to be able to shut away the rest of the world in order to get work done because I can get distracted pretty easily if I’m not careful. But I also like to feel connected.  It gets kind of lonely not being close to my team, but being home has been awesome because I can go upstairs and see my wife and kids.

I also need things to be fun. I hate environments that look too sterile. I spent almost ten years in a cubicle farm and was known for (and was reprimanded many times for) filling mine with toys and art. Now that I have my own space, I surround myself with anything and everything I can find that makes me smile. Of course that means that it can get to be a bit of a mess at times.

Where are your favorite places for art?

Mostly online... individual’s blogs, tumblrs and instagram accounts. There isn’t a ton around where I live for the kind of stuff I like. My friends own a small gallery called FOE in Northampton, MA which is awesome and they bring in some amazingly talented folks. But there is so much rad stuff out there, the web seems to be the best way to find it.

Who are the creatives you admire most?

Way too many to name all together. Here’s a sampling:

  • Dave Gray
  • Sunni Brown
  • Richard Page
  • Tina Roth-Eisenberg
  • Greg Ruth
  • Andrew Bell
  • Leontine Greenberg
  • Dr. Seuss
  • Shel Silverstein
  • Edward Gorey
  • Leah Buley
  • Jessica Hische
  • Scott McCloud
  • Alfred Hitchcock
  • Sam Raimi
  • Stan Winston
  • Doug Tennapel
  • Amanda Conner
  • Leslie Jensen-Inman
  • Shaun Inman
  • Brandi Milne
  • Dustin Nguyen
  • Sam Keith

and way too many more to list