AC: What inspired your current creative project?
Brian Thomas (BFA 07 Graphic Design) business owner: During our time at ArtCenter, a friend Micah Panama (BFA 07 Graphic Design) was running a mixtape club. After we graduated, I proposed we create an online version and The Mixtape Club started in 2009. In 2015, my wife and I expanded the project by selling records online, and this summer, we opened The Mixtape Shop, a record store and coffee shop in Brooklyn.
AC: What have been some of the most memorable twists and turns in your professional/creative journey after graduating ArtCenter?
BT: Transitioning from designer to business owner. Working as a designer often meant a lot of work on a project until its completion and then moving to another project. Design now, for me, is an ongoing experiment.
AC: What’s been the most unexpected or valuable takeaway from your ArtCenter education?
BT: Errol Gerson’s Entrepreneurial Spirit course and his coffee and chat sessions. I took the class multiple times. It was a nice break to the intense design classes and was full of information I found useful throughout my career.
AC: What’s design cliché are you most tempted to use?
BT: Overprinting and designing in black and white.
AC: What’s the one tool you can’t do without?
AC: What do you do to detox from media and screens?
BT: Play records or search for new ones.
Other countries often have different cultural norms and design trends that can open the opportunity to new ideas.Brian Thomas
AC: Where do you get inspiration?
BT: Visiting other countries. It’s easy to surround yourself with the things you like in your own environment. Other countries often have different cultural norms and design trends that can open the opportunity to new ideas.
AC: Who are some unheralded designers you like?
BT: I’ve become really interested in record cover artwork from the ’70s and ’80s. There are loads of privately pressed records with really great artwork, possibly because they weren’t governed by major record labels. Ron Warwell designed some of my favorite covers, including Tarika Blue.
Submit the Alumni Q&A questionnaire to share your story. We want to hear about your accomplishments, what you're working on and your advice for future ArtCenter students.
AC: Describe the moment in your childhood where you first identified as an artist or designer?
BT: I drew as a child, but I didn’t know I wanted to be involved in design until using the internet for the first time in the mid/late ’90s. I wanted to learn how to make the flames and ASCII art I was seeing and found my way to Photoshop and tutorials.
AC: What possession do you most aspire to possess?
BT: An excellent original copy of Attitude, Belief & Determination by Martin L. Dumas, Jr. The title track is nine and a half minutes of positive disco bliss.
AC: How do you define success?
BT: The track above answers this better than I ever could.
AC: What is your happy place?
BT: The dance floor.