Six designers I’m really into right now

4 April 2024
Featured Image

As I wrap up a business card project and start working on a client’s album cover and another brochure, I’ve been scouring these six designers’ portfolios for inspiration.

Although it has its own time-sucking risks, I love jumping from link to link as I research what other designers have done with projects similar to mine. I found the majority of these designers thanks to a rabbit hole I plunged headfirst into while trying to find the artist behind the striking third album from Bon Iver, 22, A Million—an album I still remember hating when I first heard it. Why doesn’t it sound like the older albums? What’s up with the numbers everywhere? Hang on, there’s a song called 666??

I love that there's a Spotify embed function, but incidentally, I just switched over to Tidal. (Curious if the sound quality really does make that much of a difference).

Even when certain songs started to grow on me, (33 “GOD” was an easy winner early on… "29 #Strafford APTS” has always been an all-time favorite… the chills I would get when the final chorus distorts and fragments, as if Justin Vernon's sheer emotion threatens to shatter the whole song,) others were instantly skipped. “715 - CRΣΣKS” had a swear in it, so that one was out. "666 ʇ” too. (I didn’t catch one in 10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⊠ ⊠ for years, funnily enough). But even the songs that I early on couldn’t bear to listen to entranced me despite, or more accurately, because of, my self-imposed censorship. Yes, I was a little weird when it came to swearing, growing up.

One thing I remember loving from the start, though, was the album cover itself. The mystical symbols, representing individual songs from the album, visualizations of the artists’ journeys, and references to religion, the occult, and pop culture, span the front, back, and inside of the gorgeous gatefold vinyl case, which I am now a proud owner of, thanks so much G. Hansen, I love you.


I instantly thought of 22,AM during my first client meeting for the album cover project; I wanted to find whatever visual artist was behind the project. Fortunately for me, plenty of other people had been asking that same question back in 2016 when 22,AM was released—and Walker Art answered.

Eric Carlson’s website is everything I had been hoping to see and everything I want to be. The most beautiful aspect of his site, though not visible on a first glance, is that the entire page is randomized everytime you open it. (I found another brilliant portfolio—a photography based account by Lee Rae Walsh—that does the same. The designer behind it, Aidan Quinlan, apparently has his whole VCU curriculum on website-making online, for free! Bookmarking that for later…)

Anyways, back to Eric. The randomized portfolio is both a brilliant way to show off work—and also demonstrates a lot of confidence in his work: each piece he’s selected for his site needs to be able to stand up for itself, especially if it’s the first thing on the page. Normally, a designer would want to put their most recent/best work up front. Furthermore, the “shuffle” function of the website isn’t immediately obvious. A wandering viewer might not even catch it, if they don’t happen to refresh their browser or see the “grid”/“shuffle”/“re-order” options.

The whole thing is a treasure-trove. And while I love digging through it, the most lucrative finding was this article with Eric, where he not only explained the process behind the album art and icons, but shared his inspirations, friends, and mentors. And that’s where I found the bulk of these other designers.

He worked with Michael Cina for several years, who sounds like who I hope I’ll become in 10+ years: a book and record collector, a serial artist, a typographer in charge of a design studio making custom typefaces for some of the biggest companies out there. His website is also a delight—like Aidan Quinlan, he seems fascinated with pushing websites just a little bit further than people have before. (Just check out the footer—you can move all the little bubble links around. I love how one link has seemingly already dropped off a bit, hinting at their mobility).

A couple more links later, (I can’t quite remember the exact journey, but I may have been exploring the Walker blog for a bit,) and I found yet another randomized portfolio: Harsh Patel. His site seemed just as typographically-driven, but with a little more Swiss-style grids and an even simpler interface. And not long after that, I found—thanks to some reverse searching for the designer behind the new Vintage Books Dostoevsky covers: Peter Mendelsund

And there you have six insanely talented artists, designers, collectors, teachers, programmers, writers, photographers, and typographers who have been sustaining my need for constant inspiration. While I’m in the middle of my digital declutter and avoiding my usual inspiration haunts (Behance; Dribbble, or what’s left of it; Pinterest and all its usual distractions; and God forgive me, Instagram), these six designers have stepped in to redirect my path.

Extra extra

some lyrics that I can't get out of my head this week:

"Save me from the tyranny of the familiar
Jesus, Jesus
Show me the face of God in every human creature"

John Mark McMillan, "Love with a Crown"


No Comments.

© 2024 Caedon Spilman — Design & Creative Direction

Back to top Arrow