Student-Artist Spotlight: Joseph Shimek

Bryce Parr –

Joseph Shimek is a junior in the graphic design and interactive media program. Shimek grew up in River Falls, Wisconsin.

What sparked your interest in art and design?

I have always been drawn to things that allow me the freedom to be creative.

I recognized young that I had a knack for art and was more interested in it than any of my classmates.

In high school, I took a sculpture class. We spent most of the time working with clay. I got really into it. It was the first time I found a way to get ideas from my head out into the real world. It was my favorite part of the day. I would spend hours in the room working after school.

By the time I was a senior, I was getting a fair amount of recognition around my work and was even awarded a few scholarships.

The attention made me realize my potential and it gave me the confidence to pursue a creative field.

What styles or mediums do you prefer?

As of now, most of my work is 2D. I’ve done a fair amount of trial and error to find a process that allows me to work by hand as well as digitally.

All of my ideation and drawing happens in a sketchbook. When I draw something I like, I’ll take it into Photoshop and give it some color. Sometimes I’ll even play with other effects, blending layers, distortion, stuff like that.

For me this is perfect; I’ve never been a fan of sketching on a tablet, but there are so many insane tools on the computer. Once I took the time to learn, it really speed up my workflow and it made my work better.

Do you take influence from any artists or designers in particular?

Since getting more into my design work, I’ve been taking a lot of inspiration from the psychedelic stuff that was happening in the 60’s and 70’s. There were a ton of designers, especially in the music scene, that were pushing boundaries and being really experimental with type and color. Recently, I’ve been looking at a book of collected work from a guy named Rick Griffin. He did posters for people like The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and The Doors. He has a huge archive of other illustrations and also made some sick comics around the surf culture he grew up in. For me, his posters are just insane. The type flows so well. I could sit and stare at them for hours.

Are there any projects that stood out during your career at Stout?

I’ve learned so much at Stout and I’ve definitely had some fun projects, but I think all of my favorite projects have happened outside of class. When the work is something that I have specifically chosen to do myself, I feel like it engages me in a way that other projects don’t. This is usually were my best work comes from.

What are your plans after graduation?

Right now, I’m still trying to develop my work and feel out my place in the design scene, but I feel like my style would lend itself naturally to posters and album covers. I’ve always been really inspired to draw from the music I listen to. I would love to work with other artists being collaborative and helping to round out an idea that is more than just an illustration.