Dave Styer: Graphic Designer by Trade
With skin full of traditional American tattoos and hands adorned with turquoise, Dave Styer laughs that he’s not too excited to be approaching his 50s. Though he jokes about getting old, the professional graphic designer isn’t slowing down any time soon. SLUG selected Styer’s design for a limited-run after he submitted to SLUG’s recent t-shirt design contest—which is just one of the many projects Styer has in the works.
Styer decided to enter the contest because he felt confident he could design something outside of SLUG’s motifs of skulls and skateboards. “I’ve become fairly proficient,” said Styer, “I can turn things around quickly, so I thought why not?” The artistic style of the shirt is more abstract than his usual designs, featuring fluid lines spilling down a white mountain, with smooth, red loops layered on top. After doing some research on what SLUG might like, Styer used The Black Angels’ 2006 album cover as inspiration, leading to his two-toned design with simple lines. “All their cover artwork is very similar to the feel of design I came up with.” He explained. “Just simple lines. A very ’60s sort of psychedelic…I guess you could say I do tend to turn to music a lot, but it’s been my life,” he reflects. Styer has been an active musician in Salt Lake for 25 years, and he looks to artistic expressions in music and album art to create designs that evoke a similar vibe.
“Each piece could be entirely different just based on what the idea is initially coming to, or what you are given.”
An early significant influence for Styler was punk rock. Like punk music, Styer has an air of unconventionality about him that’s exciting and in-your-face. For instance, Styer and a buddy created art for one of their album covers that showcased Mormon imagery from their upbringing, using contrasting reds and yellows. Styer has also come to love classic country artists, which he showcases in his other original t-shirt designs. “Things [classic country artists] sing about are just as counterculture as any Dead Kennedys songs,” he says.
Aside from shirts, Styer has designed things such as protein powders, custom car wraps and wedding invitations (a project, he notes, he will now refuse). A recent favorite project was for a component that goes into a 3D printer. “They gave me full creative rein. They said they wanted it to look wet, and so it does,” he laughs. Every other element was up to his aesthetic eye. Styer’s also currently working on a collaborative clothing line for Marvel. In fact, pop culture and comics are a returning theme for this designer. He is the Creative Director of the FanX Salt Lake Pop Culture and Comic Convention this month. As the designer, Styer creates all graphics for announcements, banners, and websites. “I don’t own a single comic,” Styer admits, “It’s just part of the work.” As a kid, he used to draw with a pen and paper, practicing in hopes of becoming a comic book artist. These days, his passion isn’t driven by a love of comics, but rather making people want to come to an event based on what he made to help promote it. “I create all of the social media— a sense of urgency,” he says.
“Anybody could make anything if they just spent the time to learn how to do it.”
Of his process in working with clients, Styer says, “I think that’s just the nature of the job. Each piece could be entirely different just based on what the idea is initially coming to, or what you are given.” Styer has always spent a lot of time in the researching phase of design, dating back to his earliest days. Starting as a Macintosh computer technician, Styer got his hands on the very first version of Photoshop and learned how to make simple flyers. He is completely self-taught and swears by the power of YouTube, research and hard work. Although he has a natural eye for creating the right elements, there’s more to it.
“I don’t think your eye or your skill is secondary, but you can learn how to do anything. Anybody could make anything if they just spent the time to learn how to do it.” According to Styer, it’s all just a creative hustle.