Tell us who you are and where you are from. Can you describe to us what you do for a living?
My name is Bobby Engvall, I'm originally from CT. I'm a designer and illustrator living in New York.
Can you share with us how you got your start designing along with a major personal or career milestone that lead to where you are today?
I've been interested in art and design since I was a kid, I was always drawing, painting, or sewing trying to make clothes for me and my friends.
What really got me into design as a career was a school project. We had to shadow someone who had a job we were interested in, so I reached out to Burton Snowboards and was lucky enough to shadow their in-house design team for a day. They showed me all the crazy product development labs, design boards, and it seemed like they just made cool shit all day. After that I thought, oh I can draw snowboard graphics and get paid? I'll do that.
You have a wide range of work experience from advertising agencies to freelance art direction/graphic work for others. What are the major differences working in-house vs working for yourself? Which do you prefer?
In-house and self-employed are very different but I think both are super valuable. You learn a lot of how the industry runs and how to present work from being in-house which is incredibly useful.
Working for yourself you have to be on it with your creative process and time management or you will burn yourself out real quick. I've been working for myself for the past 2 years, it's definitely stressful at times because it's only you. There's no project manager making sure the work is on time, no account person presenting work, it's just you. That part can seem overwhelming but it's been a lot of fun and you get creative freedom you might not get if you are in-house.
You’re known for creating characters, which feels very much like a Bobby Engvall signature (Ie: Heaven by Marc Jacobs, Converse, Bape, Atmos, Golf) What inspires this style and aesthetic of work?
I think a lot of what I make comes from what I wanted to do when I first started making t-shirts and graphics as a kid. I wanted to make shirts that I would buy in a shop but I didn't have the skill or knowledge to do so at the time. I was always inspired by artists like Mark Mckee and Sean Cliver. Its little details in the lines I was always obsessed with. The thick to thin brush stroke or like the proportions of the characters they would draw, something about it felt kind of effortless. Now I'm just trying to make work I'm excited about it and would be hyped to see in the world.
Do you ever worry or get concerned that other designers might bite your style/aesthetic of work and if so, how do you do cope with these moments now that social media is essentially a public portfolio for designers.
I don't really stress about people biting my work at all. I think if someone is so hyped on something I made that they want to copy it, that's kind of cool. Hopefully they can gain something from it and figure out their own voice at some point. Everyone bites styles when they are just learning, it's probably how I learned to draw in the first place.
Are there any designers/artists that you you look up to growing up outside of NYC and going to school for design at SVA?
Growing up in the woods in CT, I wasn't exposed to a ton of art that really inspired me at the time. I was into a lot of the same stuff I think a lot of people my age were into. Graffiti, t-shirts, skate and snowboard graphics. That's what really made me hyped at that age. I remember getting one of those college packets trying to sell me on going to SVA and it had bad graffiti over some old family photo and I thought 'yeah this feels right'. Once I moved to NY I was exposed to so much more and that really opened my eyes to art and design in a big way.
You just gotta roll with the punches and try and make something that makes you or other people excited.
Fashion, sneakers, music and press are all areas you’ve dabbled in. Is there a project you would love to work on that you haven’t touched in the past?
Once I do a snowboard I can retire.
A lot of creatives have mentioned they have gone thru a mental fog this past year with the pandemic and all the social issues we’ve experienced these past few months. How have you managed to stay motivated and focused on your projects?
This year has been tough for everyone. There were a solid couple months where making anything felt like a chore for sure. I think the biggest thing for my work this year is just balance. You have to balance work and trying to see people in a safe way. Balance relaxing and staying informed with everything that's going on, it's tough. There is so much happening every day you feel insane at times. You just gotta roll with the punches and try and make something that makes you or other people excited. That's the goal.