With a drive to create, Multidisciplinary Designer and Art Director David Hastings found encouragement from a young age to pursue art and design. Depending on the project, he may sharpen a pencil or boot up Photoshop to reach his creative goal. David takes his creativity beyond his day job. He is also a drag performer and author of Cross-Stitch Like a Queen, a new pattern book celebrating the LGBTQA+ community with fun cross-stitch patterns.
How did you find yourself on a creative path? Always there? Lightbulb moment? Dragged kicking and screaming? Evolving?
Never any doubt. When I was young, I thought I would become a cartoonist. My dad built me a light table and I had endless stacks of tracing paper at my disposal. It’s evolved from there, but I’ve maintained an affinity for the arts in both professional and personal contexts.
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What inspires you to create? Are you creative in more than one area?
I’ve always felt a drive to create something. My siblings and I grew up crafting with our mom, and in my mind, there’s nothing more satisfying than sitting down and creating something with your own two hands. Ending up with a finished product that came from your own mind and faculties is a gratifying process. I’m fortunate to work in a career where I collaborate with artists and creatives on a daily basis, and partake in a productive creative process. In my free time, I illustrate, take photos, and perform in drag as personal creative outlets, but ultimately I find that my desire to maintain a creative output informs both personal and professional pursuits.
What is the most important takeaway you want readers to gain from your new book, Cross Stitch Like a Queen?
The book in and of itself is meant to be a fun celebration of queer culture. While drag is now a mainstream, lucrative form of entertainment, it’s imperative that we don’t lose sight of the fact that in contemporary history, drag queens were some of the most vocal activists and community members for an extremely marginalized community. While the book is lighthearted, the themes we celebrate have roots in struggle. We can remember this history while also making cute wall hangings, right?!
When it comes to creating, are you more of a planner or an improviser?
It depends on the project — if I’m working on a creative project for a client, I’m much more methodical and like to build out a framework to work more efficiently. There are of course parts of the creative process that require you to improvise and throw all caution to the wind. Personally, I find my best ideas come from maintaining a balance of uninhibited creativity and then focusing in on the most successful parts of those experiments to create a functional and enjoyable final product.
Do you have a mentor?
There isn’t one single person that I can call out as being my primary mentor. I give credit to many people along the way that have provided me with formative perspectives and skills.
Do you use a sketchbook or journal? How does that help your work develop?
I always like to start a new project (be it a new book cover, the wireframe of a website or just an inkling for a new illustration), with some messy pencil and paper sketches. I also use my iPad as a scratch pad. Sketching and developing work in Procreate and Photoshop for iPad works for me. I tend to be a bit frenetic when I’m in the midst of creating something new, so I flip between applications and use all the tools at my disposal to accomplish a goal or vision.
Describe your creative space.
Organized clutter. Nice things on the wall. Big computer screens.
What plays in the background while you work? Silence? Music, audiobooks, podcasts, movies? If so, what kind?
I’m either blasting music at top volume and dancing as I work (the playlist changes daily), or running a Real Housewives marathon.
How do you get unstuck creatively?
I find my environment heavily affects my mental state. If I’m feeling a creative block, it always helps me to step away from my desk and take a walk. I meditate and try to clear my head so I can come back to the project with a hopefully less frustrated, clearer mindset.
What was the biggest challenge that you encountered on your creative journey? What did you learn from it?
I found myself in a professional creative environment early in my career. I was working as a receptionist at a tech company after graduating undergrad with a Spanish degree. The creative director of the company asked me one day if I was a designer. I had always been interested in a career in design, and had grown up playing in Photoshop. So I said yes, and the rest is history.
I’ve worked in the tech, printing, and publishing industries, and have been building a diverse toolkit with every position I’ve held. I learn from the people around me, and am motivated to find solutions to problems that stump me. Throughout this process, I’ve struggled with imposter syndrome. I don’t have a formal art or design degree, so I’ve always had a nagging voice in the back of my head that says I’m missing out on some key piece of information that everybody else has already learned. I still fight against that voice, but it motivates me to justify my decisions, advocate for myself, and present my work with pride.
Interview posted November 2021
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