Connecticut Creatives

Tad Kimball

What do you do and where do you do it?

I am senior designer at Group C in New Haven. At Group C we make a lot of books, mostly for architects, and do a lot of branding work, a mix of developing new identities and maintaining brands that have been long term clients. In addition to that my friends and I do some animation projects as General Interest Studios. We have done stuff for Comedy Central as well as some hosting live shows and creating original animation series. I also make typefaces and have a couple in the works at the moment.

What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it?

Skateboarding and punk. I was attracted how simple graphics and bold images can tell stories. The DIY attitude that is present in both scenes made me realize that it was something I could do. Drawing album covers, making zines, screen printing patches and stickers, and making fliers for friends’ bands was the start and I haven’t stopped since.

What is your career highlight so far?

A year or so after I graduated from college, I was awarded a scholarship at Fabrica in Treviso Italy for a year. Fabrica is a multi-disciplinary studio run by Benetton and hosts people under 25, from all over the world to live and work in Italy. It was a great opportunity to live and work outside the US and to meet people from all over: South Korea, Mexico, the UK, New Zealand, China, Argentina, etc. I highly recommend any recent graduates to apply.

What do you want to accomplish before you retire?

I would like to eventually run my own studio.

Who/What are your biggest influences?

Everything ends up influencing my work in one way or another. That’s one of my favorite things about what we do. My favorite part of any project is research and making connections, one interesting thread leads to something else which usually results in a rich story to build work from.

With that said, my specific influences are: Daniel Vandervelden/Metahaven, Mevis & Van Dursen, Karel Martens, Ed Fella, David Rudnick, Radim Pesko, Stuart Bailey, David Reinfurt (Dot Dot Dot/Dexter Sinister), Klim Type Foundry, Joseph Churchward, Tibor Kalman, Peter Saville, early 2000’s net art, Corey Archangel,, William Gibson, Thomas Pynchon, Sleaford Mods, Siege, Spazz, Hawkwind, Serge Gainsbourg, Beat Happening, Ian Svenonius, Lawrence Weiner, Raymond Pettibon, Ed Rucha, Ed Roth, Barney Bubbles, Daniel van der Velden, Cory Arcangel, antique stores, hand lettered signage, and a lot more. It’s really tough to list everything.

Who are the best creatives you’ve worked with?

The best creatives I’ve worked with are the people that push me to question and explain my work. Discussing what influenced my decisions always leads to new areas to explore.

My first job out of school was with BIG, Ogilvy’s branding division. It was an intensely creative environment where ideas were generated quickly and pinned up and talked about on a daily basis. The people I worked with forced me to grow very quickly and to not be precious or timid with my work because often times the solution came from a casual conversation or rough sketch. My experiences from working there have really stuck with me and still influence how I approach work today.

What cause means the most to you?

Since having kids, I have been very interested in early childhood education. Seeing first hand how kids take in the world and grow is amazing and exposing kids to opportunities and experiences is crucial to fostering a love of learning.

Why Connecticut?

I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire and went to college in Brooklyn, where I ended up living and working for 10 years. My wife and I wanted to start a family and didn’t want to do it in the city so we moved out. We ended up moving to neighborhood she grew up in, a small section of Stratford on the Sound. I commuted to the city for a few years, but once we had our first kid, I became a full time Connecticuter.

What are your loves/passions outside of this field?

Drawing, printmaking (I’ve been really into block printing lately), reading, discovering new/old music (the weirder and more obscure the better), photography, building and riding bikes (my shed is full of old bike I will fix up one day), going to the beach, cooking (experimenting with pizza mostly), playing with my kids.

What do you know now that you didn’t know then?

The main thing I’ve learned is that design is a small part of the job. Conversations and planning and strategizing take up as much, sometimes more, of a day than sitting down at the computer to create something. In and after school I used to just jump right into an assignment, but I have learned over time that starting with a good foundation or research and a plan of attack makes the design phase much faster and more productive.