I met Daniel at Cumberland Country Community College of all places in 2005 during what I think was an Art History class. I never seem to remember how I meet people, but the important thing to take away from this is that we’ve stayed friends since and we continue to keep up with what the other is currently working on. And boy is he working on a lot.
I’ll let him do some of the talking.
The following interview was conducted via Facebook over the course of 7 days.
Hey Danny, start by telling me a little about how you got interested in industrial design, and what you’re doing now.
Well, I’m a Brit, born in Cyrpus, lived in Germany, England, Crete & currently Belgium. I attended college in the US, and after graduating from Cumberland County college, I went to Montclair State Uni to continue study graphic design. When I tried to apply to a footwear design internship at Nike they apparently only accepted industrial design students. Seeing that the whole reason I was taking graphic design courses was to design shoes, I figured I should probably switch majors, luckily Montclair offered industrial design.
I’ve always had a love for shoes, being a basketball player it just comes with the territory I guess. So shoes are the reason I kind of fell into ID, since then I’ve had the opportunity to design a good range of different products, from shoes to sunglasses, concept cars & jet ski’s.
I’m currently in Belgium, I came here earlier this year to work with an engineer to produce a Jet Ski concept I’m currently designing. I’m also working and traveling all over the place for my shoe brand, lup, that myself and two best friends own, and building up my new footwear design site, conceptkicks.com.
I also do some freelance on the side too. Haha, forgot to add that bit on.
Did you ever re-apply for that Nike internship?
Actually now that you mention it, I never did reapply for it…I had some interest Adidas, but never secured an internship with a big brand, though I did have a very short internship with Marchon in the Nike division, they’re a company that Nike outsourced to help produce eye wear for them.
I think it’s great if you have an internship with the large company, I think internships are invaluable, you learn how things really are in your field of study. But as
I got older I started to fucking hate how big companies treat designers, they completely put the shackles on and pigeonhole you, so I’ve always wanted to do my own thing, and be involved in all the aspects that go into making a product.
I’ve always wondered that I’ve naturally always steered clear of the “big guys” in the design world.
Now you’re obviously a very talented industrial designer, do you feel it was something you had to work really hard at to develop? Or do you think it was something you always naturally “excelled” at?
Ha, I’m OK, I have friends that put me to SHAME. But, I’d have to say it’s a mixture of the two, meaning that I worked my ass off while I studied ID, i was literally non-stop with it, but I guess when it’s a passion you don’t even look at it like you’re putting the work in, you know? You’re just doing it because you really want to and it excites you. On the flip side, I do think you have to have certain intangibles to be able to succeed in ID. Creativity is something you can cultivate, but not everybody has it.
Also, people always assume they wont be good at ID because they suck at sketching, and don’t get me wrong, sketching is an important part of ID, but sketching at the end of the day is just a way to get your ideas from your head to paper. As long as you understand what that shady scribble is, that’s all the matters, you can find other ways to create a finalized, beautiful looking version of your product so other people can see what you envisioned.
That’s refreshing to hear you worked so hard, and are seeing so many promising dividends.
Do you have any tips or suggestions for young designers, most probably still in school, that you see or saw your colleagues doing that help them improve on their skills?
It’s always interesting when people ask me for tips, because I still feel like I’m learning so much still, more now then ever really. I guess I’d say just to keep an open mind, even ugly things can have great ideas at the base of them.
One of the biggest stigmas that students have, is that it’s wrong to copy. That’s not true at all, copying is great, as long you don’t claim it as your own idea/Sketch etc…Copying is the best way to work on your skills, see how other people do certain things, copy that, check out sketches that you like, try and copy them. Don’t be afraid to do it, it’s the best way to learn new skills and apply them to your own design style.
I think that’s pretty good advice. Just keep working seems to be the standard.
One of my teachers at Rowan always “Potters throw, illustrators draw, photographers shoot.” You just have to keep at it and you have to make a lot of crap before you make something excellent.
Moving back to what you’re working on now – Are you able to talk more about any of the projects your working on?
Can you tell us more about lup specifically? Some of the readers may not know about your recent Kickstarter efforts but may be seriously interested in finding out more about what you intended to be the end result of that project.
Sure, lup is a footwear brand myself and my two friends own. Two of us being shoe designers, and the other being very tall. We created a Kickstarter campaign to create a free design space for young designers in NY with the sale of the shoes. Unfortunately we didn’t raise nearly enough, but the brand is still moving forward. I don’t want to say too much about that right now and jinx anything, but we have some pretty cool stuff coming up.
As for other stuff I’m working on , I’m currently in Belgium working with an engineer on a Jet Ski concept I helped to design. I came out here last year to work on it and thought I might as well move there for a while. It’s a great location to maneuver around Europe, I can be anywhere from London to Paris or Amsterdam in about 2 hours.
It sounds like you’ve got a lot going on at only 26.
How do respond when people ask: “What do you for a living?” It’s obviously not as easy as saying “I”m a designer”.. is it?
Yeah, that’s always an interesting question, I usually say something like i work as ninja assassin and stare at them awkwardly. Trying to explain what ID is to someone that isn’t a designer or engineer usually only leads to confusion, on their part and mine. I think product design is still pretty unknown, so I usually try and avoid explaining it in too greater detail. Unless I’m talking to a woman, then I’ll tell her I’m a shoe designer straight away.
Haha, gets ‘em every time, I’m sure.
Do you consider yourself a freelancer?
I do freelance, but I don’t really consider myself an actual freelancer per se. I get to be involved in the wildest stuff when I’m approached as a “freelancer”, which is what keeps me fresh and gives me a challenge. But when you have you’re own brand and products, it really consumes you, which is good & bad I guess. So you could say I use the freelance stuff I do to keep me inspired in my own projects. It also helps to put some food on the table while I sink all my cash into those projects.
Yeah sounds like having the best of both worlds can have its challenges.
So tell are there any web sites you find particularly helpful as you try to push your skills and techniques?
Sure, idsketching.com has helped me a lot, they have some great tutorials, and the content in general is pretty dope. I learn a lot from looking at others too, so checking out sites like coroflot.com & behance.net is something I do pretty regularly too.
That’s awesome. Thank you!
Well I really want to wish you good luck with everything, Danny. I’m glad to hear you’re keeping so busy and still able to take the time to answer some of my questions. I’m sure my readers will really enjoy reading this and start following you and your work.
Ff there is anything you’d like to close with be it words of advice or anything at all please feel free to say it.
Like i said, i feel honored u want to interview me man.
I was truly humbled that Daniel took the time out of his very busy schedule to talk shop with me for this blog and I want to thank him again for being so patient with me while we conducted this interview over the course of a week.
If you’d like to know more about Daniel Bailey you can follow him on Twitter @MrBailey.
You can also keep up with his current blog www.ConceptKicks.com where he posts inspiration, tutorials, and resources solely (pun intended) about sneakers!
Daniel also owns and manages www.MonkeeDesign.com an industrial design blog covering a broader spectrum of designs and designers.
And finally www.footweardesign.biz the umbrella company of set up himself and