Self-taught multidisciplinary graphic designer and director Anthony Neil Dart from South Africa effortlessly masters a range of disciplines from graphic design, music production and film. He creates simple designs presented in a clean aesthetic with particular interest for typographical elements and symbols, which can be found throughout his work. Originating from Johannesburg, South Africa, he now lives and works in Seattle, Washington, describing himself as “Insatiably inquisitive, fueled mostly by intuition, I prefer to listen than speak while being drawn to things I do not entirely understand”. Find out more in the following interview and check out his website www.anthonyneildart.tv.
Whom do you look up to?
What comprises who we are? – our personalities in all their unique complexity are possibly a result of a diverse synthesis of everyone we have known or experienced. From close friends to long dead authors there are far too many to single out in any fairness – I look up to anyone who follows what they believe in, who are thoughtful brave and kind.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your way of thinking?
My mom raised a family of five kids as a single mom against great diversity, hands down she has had a profound impact on how I think and my beautiful wife Vironica for always being my greatest supporter, long before I realized my own potential.
How did your art career start?
My mom said I was scribbling and sketching on everything and anything, she would catch me writing on walls or making patterns on the floor. When I got crayons and paper that was it. And even now this initial instinct persists. I need to create to get ideas out in whatever form – a song, a doodle a poster or whatever.
What was your favorite project and why?
My latest project inevitably goes from my favorite project to the worst in under a week from completion. At that moment when you run out of time and money the euphoria decays rapidly into… “This is the best and most appropriate solution” to “Oh man, I could have done better”. And it is that creative ambiguity that drives me to improve.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced during your career as an artist?
I think there have been many… It took me a really long time to develop my style and voice as a designer and an artist. And for the longest time it was a challenge to just keep going. As practicing creative professional in this current climate it is easy to get lost in the democratization of Art and Design. And by that I mean it has never been easier or more difficult at the same time to stand out from the crowd, to get noticed or swept away in the sea of ubiquity. Through all the professional and personal trials of running a successful studio to moving from South Africa to the USA the work has always gotten me through, the one constant focus. I have never quite understood where this drive and ambition comes from, my advice – especially younger creatives would be stay true to yourself and others and make your work a practice for everyday living. Keep going no matter what and the periphery will always and eventually come into focus.
Do you have a favorite quote that describes what you truly believe in?
Marcus Aurelius: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.
How do you define creativity?
As a designer and artist my process is similar, my design work remains focused on clarity and communication while my art work takes that minimal clarity to more expressive places. Often the two are at odds and more often than not they blur together. I am trying to understand the nature of beauty and the mechanics of applied aesthetics in whatever form they may take. And to me this is what creativity is all about a lifelong search to understand and make sense of my surroundings.
If you had one advice for someone seeking to live a creative life, what would you tell him?
Don’t let fear stand in the way of a creative life, in hindsight I would have been far more comfortable and confident in my own abilities, life is too short for fear.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at 21?
I would confirm that hard work, hustle and sheer grit are not.
Is there anything for which you would be ready to give up your passion for art?
I do not think so… I think the only constant is change so it is likely that even if my current creative proclivities change they will always be driven by a strong desire to express myself and my ideas.
All images © Anthony Neil Dart