Dominic Flask is the artist who created Places to Hide, our second user-submitted collection. If you're a NeonMob user, you may know him as @dangerdom. I'm really into Dominic's clean lines and spare, but bright color palette that he uses for this collection of unique buildings set in serene landscapes – they definitely look like tucked-away places that I'd love to hide in.
I reached out to Dominic to ask him a few questions about himself, "Places to Hide," and his process.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a designer and illustrator living in San Francisco, CA, by way of Wichita, KS. I currently work as an illustrator at Dropbox, which is an absolutely wonderful company to work for. I’m also a husband and a new father to our recently born son. In between all of that I spend my time drawing away at personal illustration projects like creating sets for NeonMob.
For some of the work on your website, you show the rough sketches of your pieces alongside the finished piece. It's really interesting to see something develop from a rough idea to the polished product. Sometimes people forget that digital art often starts off in an analog form. How often do you work from pencil or pen sketches to create digital pieces? What's your process?
I always start with a pencil and pen. I’m not a very good traditional artist and couldn’t draw a portrait to save my life, but starting off of the computer lets the ideas flow freely and quickly. Computer software is just the tool that I choose to execute my idea with. Generally my process can loosely be combined into three steps, research, exploration and execution. I am a designer first, so I approach everything I do as a solution to a problem, which means the first step is to identify the problem and gather as much information as we can about it. Then I spend plenty of time sketching out ideas and scribbling notes, asking questions along the way, then it’s into the computer to pull it all together.
From your collection and from reading your website, I gathered that you're really into midcentury modern design. What about this era do you love so much and how does it affect your professional and personal work?
America in the 1950s and '60s has always intrigued me. I think it’s the illusion of the perfect lifestyle that people were all striving to attain. Everything had to be perfect, or else the whole world would come crashing down. By no means do I think this is a good way to live, but the fact that so many people did fascinates me. Aesthetically speaking, it was a glorious heyday of beauty, bold colors, simple forms, evidence of nature, and the human touch – they really got it right back then. The limitations of technology coupled with the restraint of the modernity of the period all wrapped up and decorated like a perfectly packaged Christmas present in brightly colored paper… I mean damn...
What else are you obsessed with right now (and how does it influence your style and your work)?
My son and my family influence me on a daily basis. My wife has been an amazing support on my journey and watching my son discover the world every day reminds me why I’m doing what I’m doing.
How did you decide what to make your NeonMob collection about? Are the scenes you've depicted of real places or ones from your imagination?
It actually took a little while to figure out the form of the collection. I actually failed quite a few times before finally starting to be able to visualize it. I knew what I wanted but it just wasn’t coming out right. In a way, it is derivative of a lot of my own personal feelings about the world I live in. I often find myself quite tired of the hustle and bustle of society, how short everyone’s attention spans are, how much technology has had an impact on craft and many other things. I daydream about a life tucked away in nature living a simpler, more focused life. The pieces in the collection are both imagined and inspired by places I’ve been too. Some I would start to picture based on things I’d read or seen in a movie, others were based off of the landscape of places I’ve traveled too.
I also read on your site that you spent some time teaching design at Wichita State University. Did you learn anything from teaching that's changed the way you think about design?
I learn new things everyday that change the way I think about design, and my time at WSU was no different. Teaching forces you to learn even more than practicing sometimes, and seeing students learn has an incredible effect on how I think about design. It definitely kept me on my toes.
How is the art/design scene different in the Midwest from San Francisco?
One thing that I’ve learned in life is that things are pretty much the same everywhere – it’s just the scale that can change. In a lot of ways the art/design scene in San Francisco is very similar to the Midwest, but it’s everywhere you look. It’s hard to avoid it out here, back home you had to seek out what you were looking for.