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Designer Spotlight with Harbor Bickmore

Get to know nomadic designer Harbor Bickmore, who dreams about entrepreneurial collaborations and thinks mistakes are fun

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Harbor Bickmore, I’m 31, and semi homeless (but I tell people I’m a digital nomad cuz it’s all about branding) right now I’m in Utah. For work I’m mainly running my one-man type foundry, That That Creative. I also do a bit of freelancing on the side.

Which design topics are you most passionate about?

What I’m most passionate about when it comes to design right now is the idea of creating delight. People say designers are problem solvers, but honestly name one career that couldn't say the same (besides evil henchmen or some bad guy thing like that). So, the thing that really sets design apart is it’s all about creating delight where it doesn't necessarily need to be and oftentimes is not expected to be. Anybody could make a functional toothbrush but a designer is going to make a delightful toothbrush that you love using a few times a day. And now instead of just having clean teeth you have clean teeth and a smile.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I grew up rollerblading and still do that in my free time. It’s the hobby that got me into design in the first place. My twin brother and I used to film and edit skate videos, I used to draw logos for pretend skate companies I wanted to start. My brother actually ended up starting a skate company that I get to design for. Living my ten-year-old me’s dream!

Share a project / exhibition / creative person / anything that you found recently and sparked your imagination.

What has been really inspiring to me as of late is Nathy Peluso’s Album “La Sandunguera”. It's super inspiring how her performance is so dynamic and varied but always very much her style. I love that she doesn’t take things too seriously on tracks like “Gimme Some Pizza” while at the same time leaving no doubt that she’s serious about her craft. I strive for that in my design work.

What’s the hardest thing about being a designer?

My wife is also a graphic designer and we have an ongoing joke about how graphic design is literally the easiest career on the planet earth. But the hardest part of my current design practice is trying to figure out how to draw a good lowercase “f” at a super bold weight on a variable typeface with a super tall X height. Like I said, a laughably easy career when the thing I am most worried about is drawing a good lowercase f. That’s stuff normally only toddlers stress about.

What’s the best thing about being a designer?

The best part about being a designer for me is that it is something that I will never be able to master in this lifetime. It is such a wide field and each new thing you learn can be a stepping stone into another fascinating rabbit hole. Between graphic design, type design, 3D modeling, architecture, industrial design, motion graphics, fashion, photography, and like twenty other things, no one has time to master them all; but I’ll go to my grave trying my best to do so, knowing I never will, but loving the process anyway.

Who would you love to collaborate with?

I’d love to collaborate with the Glyphs App Team and create a video series diving deep into everything there is to know about using the software. I absolutely love using Glyphs 3 and they have a lot of amazing learning resources that could be made even more accessible through video.

Describe your dream project.

My dream project is designing a brutalist home for my family one day.

What's the best advice you've received (and from whom)?

When I was trying to figure out what to do once I graduated from college my father asked me what I would spend my days doing if I didn’t have to worry about making money. I told him, then he asked “Okay, now how can you make money doing that?” It got me thinking about what I need to do to make money outside of a traditional job and really pushed me to develop the skills I needed to turn my passions into something that can support my family.

What do you do when you feel stuck and uninspired?

When I feel stuck I don’t force it. I scrap it. If I’m not inspired by a project I’m working on I figure it’s not worth putting out into the world. Then it’s time to go back to the drawing board and make something exciting enough to sustain the effort it will take to create it.

Recommend a book / movie / TV series / podcast / playlist to our readers

The best book I can recommend is “Red Rising”, a science fiction novel by Pierce Brown. He does an absolutely amazing job of shifting the paradigm multiple times throughout the book in a way that made me think very closely about my design process and how I might use paradigm shifts in problem solving or as a design element themselves.

Thank you Harbor!


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