where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
I grew up in Maryland and my studio in Baltimore. I began doing illustration full throttle in 1993.

you started out as a graphic designer - what made you make the jump to illustration?
I worked at a firm for about five years before being laid off. I had been producing collages on my off time and had produced a few professionally for some design clients. I had enough work to put together a portfolio and was aware what my illustration was being billed out for at the time.

where did the inspiration behind your iconic "block style" come from?
Despite it being conceptual, stylistically collage doesn't suit a broad enough spectrum of work. Plus you can spend a lot of time looking for the right head or hand. I wanted a style that was almost modular and unaesthetic to make the idea clearer.A direct influence on the block style would be the work of Brian Cronin and that almost icy visual tone he achieves but my work (collage,block or design) owes a big debt to the Pushpin artists in general and Chwast in particular.
what does your sketchbook look like?
I doodle quite a bit on the margins of paper while I work but I don't keep a sketch book per se. But I do keep a manila file of loose drawings that I think could be used later.

what is the best part about living in Baltimore?
I actually live in a rural part of Baltimore county about 20 miles from the city, but my studio is located in Baltimore. Baltimore is an easy going town that's very neighborhood oriented and conveniently located near other faster paced towns.

how has Spur Design evolved to meet the changes in our industry?
Other than a usual computer upgrades and possibly doing a few more internet based projects we're pretty much the same as when we opened up our doors in 95. I will say that since about 2004 I've made more of an effort to build and maintain long-term relationships with clients.
As a conceptual thinker, what are some ways you generate ideas for new projects, or when you're stuck on a project?
Timing is key. I like to get a night's sleep after reading a story. The next day the ideas come much more naturally then they would if I just read the story and go right to drawing.

what key elements make for a fantastic poster?
Not a lot of type, a big head, and the color orange! If that head is wearing a hat and smoking a pipe it can't miss.

how important is down time for you / what sorts of things do you do in your free time?
We have 3 school age children so that absorbs a lot of the down time. I spend a far amount of time on maintaining our house and studio and making future plans of projects I'm probably never going to complete.

is working side by side with your wife the key to a great marriage?
We think its important to function as partners but I don't think that working together professionally is necessarily a benefit or a negative. There should at least be a strong cinderblock wall separating your offices.
what are you loving about illustration right now?
Its generally interesting projects. When the projects aren't interesting I tend to think I was hired to make them interesting.

books / music worth recommending?
I recently read " A World Lit only by Fire" by William Manchester. An interesting look at living in medieval times.

any advice for new illustrators or designers coming into the industry?
Learn to make art without a computer and keep a positive attitude. Be courteous to wait staff and slow down when you drive. Hold the door for anyone behind you.

any advice for the established ones?
Only the same advice I give myself on an almost daily basis: Take pride in your accomplishments and the compliments you receive but don't think that it makes you special. Be your harshest critic but also cut yourself slack. Never lose your temper in public. Wash your hands a lot and drink more water than you currently are. Turn down desserts.
Thank you Dave!! I urge everyone to go to Dave's website this second and poke around - there is so much fantastic stuff : http://www.spurdesign.com - All images copyright Dave Plunkert.

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