Today we are interviewing talented Graphic Designer and Illustrator Erik Finsrud, also known as The Norik. Based in New York, USA along with his talking parrot,
Finsrud’s work varies from Graphic Design & Typography to Paintings.
He is the founder of TypCut; a typography project that stimulates creativity and creating outside of the comfort zone.
In our interview Finsrud explains how he got into designing, his passion for music, how New York affects him, why he does not concentrate on one specific style alone, and what he would be if he was not a designer.
Check out his site thenorik.com and follow him on Twitter @thenorik.
“In order to cultivate originality and innovation, you need to do things that are unfamiliar.”
Please introduce yourself to us
Hello, I’m Erik Finsrud. I’m a graphic artist, and I live in Brooklyn, New York. I have a compulsive habit to create. Day and night, I tend to lose a lot of sleep over it. Not sure if this is a problem or a gift. But i have fun either way.
When and how did you started out?
Well, as with most, the habit started when I was a kid.
I was home schooled till 4th grade, and didn’t really have any friends my age.
So I was a bit of a odd loner, but as grew up and eventually went to public school, I learned to cultivate this solitude, and nurture my imagination. I really got into pogs, comics, and video games, I loved the artwork. I really started taking art seriously in High School, we surprisingly had a commercial art class at my school, which covered design. So I eventually immersed myself in our entire art department, and was lucky to have what i would still consider, my best art teachers. I was also into DJing and raves, so eventually I was making my own mixtape covers and flyers.
The music eventually took over as I got more involved in electronic dance parties, dancing, DJing, and eventually I started experimenting with making my own beats. This was my main focus later in my teens, so I decided to study audio engineering. My best friend and I picked a school in Orlando, Florida, I packed my small truck with my turntables, and vinyl (half my stuff was vinyl). We moved traveled across the country from Arizona to a ghetto apartment complex in Orlando, Florida called Summerwalk, nicknamed Murderwalk. Which made sense after gun shots started ringing out behind our apartment nightly.
On a regular basis the ghetto birds (police helicopters) where shining their spot lights down on me, on my way to the laundry mat. AK47’s sprinkling buildings on a weekend wasn’t surprising. After a while the bullshit it didn’t phase me.
I eventually moved out after my neighbor was robbed at gun point one night when as I was pulling into the driveway.
At this time, I was also up in the air about my audio engineering degree, and I came to the conclusion that music was just for me, and I couldn’t do it for other people. But I had the feeling that art and design were something i could do both for myself, and others. I eventually graduated with the Audio Engineering degree and enrolled in my school’s Digital Art & Design program. I loved it, and when I finished i got my first gig at a small web shop in Orlando.
What would you be if you would not be a designer?
Broke. Haha! I still have dreams of being a musician and painter, certainly haven’t ruled them out.
You’ve mentioned to me that you’re currently working in an agency, how are you experiencing that? What do you think about freelancing?
Freelancing and agencies have their pros and cons. Right now I’m enjoying the fact that i’m working with some of the most talented and nice people around.
The structure can be nice, and you can get more productivity and refinement with a strong team.
The social aspect is great for riffing on ideas, though as with any company with a considerably large staff, politics arise.
I’ve freelanced a bit, and I enjoyed the personal freedom it offered, but the inconsistent paycheck and lack of benefits can be stressful.
Managing yourself and the client is also a challenge. But one thing that is appealing is the direct contact with the client, less cooks in the kitchen can help produce a much more honest result.
I think one day I want to give it a shot again.
Your work varies a lot from abstract work to graphic design and typography.
Why do you have so much variation in your work?
The thing about the brain is, It’s really good at getting locked into routine thinking and actions.
This is what I would call a productive mind, which is great if you do the same type of assembly line work everyday.
But as a creative person, you are only as strong as your ideas, and originality doesn’t come from patterns.
In order to cultivate originality and innovation, you need to do things that are unfamiliar.
After doing digital interfaces all day, applying paint to a canvas, or figuring out how to connect letters requires a different approach and part of your brain.
Have you ever been drawing and had the compulsion to Undo? My point exactly.
As for styles, these are voices, and that’s a personal journey, some creatives find satisfaction in being multilingual, others thrive on
being unique. Personally I try to speak my voice through different mediums, but sometimes it’s fun to know a few foreign words.
Tell us 5 things every beginner should know
- 1. You’ve got a lot of sleepless night ahead of you.
- 2. Do something creative everyday, and consume as much art as you can.
- 3. Play outside
- 4. Eat healthy
- 5. Remember to have fun
Let’s take a closer look at one of my favourite artworks from you: ‘Omega Code’, can you describe us the concept behind it and walk us through the progress?
This piece was part of a contest a few years ago, for a band that was promoting their debut through commissioned posters.
It was based around their mark, which is the three triangles.
There was a basic layout template, but outside of that it was anything-goes. I wanted to take a more traditional approach, and create something personal. The bare, gnarly tree has always been a motif in my work, so I started there. I also wanted to see if I could create something digitally, that looked like it had been hand-made. I used Art Rage to create the background, that software is good at emulating brush strokes and blending. The tree was rendered out with my tablet in Photoshop. Which is a little ironic, digitally hand-made I suppose.
You are the creator behind Typcut, Tell us more about it and what your favourite submitted piece is.
Typcut came about when I was working my first agency gig in NYC.
We worked on some cool stuff, but most of it was pretty mind numbing online ads. All of us were over qualified for the level of work and needed something that was stimulating our creativity.
We all collectively thought a simple blog where we could post quick experiments would be fun.
I took the initiative, came up with the name, and bought the domain, and set up a simple WordPress site.
Now we are about three years in, with some world class talent. The philosophy behind it as always been playful, experimental, and typography oriented, but type has never been a requirement.
As for favorites, I hate playing favorites because I love so much of the work on there.
But I would say Alex Koplin’s piece “Are You Happy?” really struck a chord in myself and a lot of people, aesthetically it really worked, but I think its merits rested mostly on his simple, but resonating idea.
Currently you are living in New York, how does this influence your work?
This place will eat you alive, and I think preventing that from happening has motivated me greatly. Not to mention a lot of great people have done their work here, so their legacies have opened up a lot of opportunities for those following.
The energy, the hustle, the rapid change. I find it very stimulating.
Can you show us and describe us your working space?
I live with my good friend Brian, a very talented dude, and Patrick, my very talented talking parrot.
We set up a common workspace with a nice large surface to make a mess on, and we also have our bedrooms with our own separate mac workstations to jam on.
The living room is simply a couch, large table, and a nice stereo system (very important), no television, great for party shenanigans, sketchbook shenanigans, and parrot shenanigans. Oh and we have a juicer, it keeps us alive and energetic.
Thank you for this interview!