FAQ / For Students

I receive a lot of emails in regards to how NoPattern got started, how I’ve come to work with certain clients, what I use to make my work, etc. Unfortunately I simply don’t have time to answer them all so I’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions for anyone interested - especially students - that will hopefully prove helpful and educational. If you still have questions you’re welcome to email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) but due to the volume of these I get I cannot promise a reply.

What is NoPattern?
The art, design, and work of Chuck Anderson.

How, when, and where did NoPattern get started?
NoPattern began in 2003 when I was 17 out of a simple desire to have an online portfolio to showcase my personal and school work. As my work and relationships with clients began to evolve, naturally so did NoPattern.com and NoPattern itself as an art & design studio. I was living in the Chicago area at the time. Currently I live in Grand Rapids, MI with my wife Holly.

Did you go to college/university after high school or have any formal training?
I did not go to college or a university after high school and have no formal training. Everything I've learned from a technical standpoint has been self-taught. 

I want to freelance. Do you recommend not going to or dropping out of college/university?
I recommend doing whatever you think is best for you. Not getting a formal education is a very personal and very risky decision. Then again, committing yourself to a school and most likely a lot of debt is also very personal and very risky. This decision should not be based on what anyone else has done but what you think is the best path in your own life. I certainly don’t recommend dropping out unless you’re positive it’s the right choice. The beauty of beginning as a freelancer is that you can do it to whatever degree you have time and energy for. There’s nothing that says you can’t be in school and freelance at the same time if you can find a good way to do them both. Weigh the pros and cons of your options, figure out what’s right for you, then make a decision, stand by it, and do it well.

Who were your first few clients and how did you get them?
My first few clients were primarily magazines like XLR8R, Complex, and ESPN, among others. I often introduced myself and my work (mostly personal at the time) to art & creative directors via email, told them of my interest to work together and that’s really about it. Keep emails simple and let your work do the talking. Be resourceful in how you go about finding contacts, don’t bother people/send spam/follow up more than once, and be patient. Also, especially when you are just getting started, it's a good idea to seek out and take on occasional non-profit projects. Not only do non-profits need good design as much as for-profit companies do, but your efforts for those projects can often lead to paid work. Obviously that should not be your main goal when taking these on, but it's something to keep in mind. A good collaboration with a non-profit can be an incredibly rewarding experience in so many ways.

I saw a "New Business" contact on the about page. Are you represented by anyone? Is NoPattern more than just Chuck?
I work with a small boutique artist management/strategy company in Chicago called Satellite Office (new site coming soon) who I met in 2007 while working on the Amp Energy Drink project with Joshua Davis. They happened to handle project & strategy management for Josh and upon completing our collaboration on that project Josh suggested I meet them. Working together made perfect sense and it has been a great partnership since 2008. Satellite consists of Ben Arditti & Erik Attkisson. Satellite maintains a small roster of artists and designers that currently includes myself, Joshua DavisStefan SagmeisterNigel DennisSara Blake, and Evgeny Kiselev. I also frequently collaborate with Seth Herman on design & branding projects as well as many other talented art directors, photographers, designers, artists, 3D designers, developers, etc.

What software, hardware, and other tools do you use most?
As far as software, primarily Adobe Photoshop and occasionally Illustrator.  The main hardware & tools I use are a Mac Pro, Apple 30” cinema display, Wacom drawing tablet, MacBook Pro, Canon 5D Mark II camera, and an Epson Stylus Pro 3800 printer.

Do you use stock imagery in your work?
Never in personal work, no. I do everything I can in client situations to avoid stock imagery. If they don’t have their own photographer for the work, I prefer to do it myself. If I can’t do it, I prefer to hire someone else who can. If that’s not possible, if they need an image of something that cannot possibly be shot under the circumstances, or if it’s strictly for mock-up purposes, only then do I see stock imagery as useful. It certainly has its place but my view is that it should generally be a last resort.

How do you create the colors/lights/glows that are in much of your work?
This is probably the question I get asked the most and the one I like answering the least. It’s not that I don’t like to “share my secrets”, but rather I feel it’s much more helpful to simply encourage you to experiment until you get things looking like you want them, if using color/light/glows is something you’re after. In Photoshop, constantly experiment with different layer styles, blending modes, custom-made brushes, and settings. There’s not a lot of rhyme or reason. However, if you’re looking to work these elements into photography, for example, the most important piece of advice I have is this: strive to integrate new design elements into the photograph rather than simply “placing them on top”, so to speak. Think about the way light and color would realistically play off the subject matter in the photo - how it would affect shadows, skin tones, existing light & color. For me, it’s extremely important to integrate these things in order to create a near-realistic, "in-camera" aesthetic illusion rather than to have what looks mostly like 2 separate things - a base image and things on top of that base image. If you need specific technical help, I suggest checking out the tutorials in magazines like Computer Arts and on sites like www.abduzeedo.com and www.psdtuts.com.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Inspiration is an interesting thing. Like the question about choosing to go to school or not, I find it to be very personal and a bit useless to share. A more relevant and helpful question might be who are some people whose work and work ethic has influenced you? So...

Who are some people whose work and work ethic have influenced you?
First and foremost, everyone under the "Friends" section of the About page. Other than that, here are some people whose work I love: Mark Romanek, KAWS, Kore Flatmo, David Shrigley, Jen StarkMichael C. Place, Jacob Bannon, Phil Hale, Hedi Slimane, Ed Emberley, Banks Violette, Cai Guo-Qiang, Erika Somogyi, Saiman Chow, Arik Roper, Geoff McFetridgeAndrei Bouzikov, Christophe Szpajdel, and John Dyer Baizley. Also, this video has played a large role in my life.

What is/was THE BRILLIANCE!?
THE BRILLIANCE! was a taste-making/news site run by me, Benjamin Gott, and Virgil Abloh from 2005-2009. We posted short articles about everything we found interesting including but not limited to: music, art, food, cars, vacation destinations, weird internet videos, the internet, more about the internet, even more about the internet, and whatever else we felt like talking about. All the posts remain archived and viewable on the site. We also conducted a ton of amazing interviews with people like Futura, Jason Fried, Jake & Amir, Aaron Bondaroff,  Alex Calderwood, Josh Keyes, and lots of others that you can still read here. THE BRILLIANCE! is often considered by everyone including you to be the single greatest website in the history of the internet.

Where can I find NoPattern on social media sites?
NoPattern is on: Twitter / Facebook / Flickr / Tumblr

Where can I find that shirt/hat/jacket/thing you designed for _______? Is it still for sale somewhere or can you sell it to me if you still have one?
Anything I have available for sale you can find at my online store NP&CO. Other things, for example the Burton collection I worked on, I do not have personally available to sell. You can generally find those with a little Google/eBay searching.

Do you currently write for any blogs or magazines? Are you interested in writing an article or tutorial for my blog/magazine?
I occasionally post news on Design Is Kinky. If you're interested in having me write for your blog or magazine feel free to get in touch at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). I am not interested in creating any tutorials at this time.

Do you speak at schools/events/conferences? Are you currently available for speaking engagements?
I have spoken at many schools/events/conferences over the years and very much enjoy it. However, I can only take on a limited number of speaking engagements so if you're interested, feel free to reach out with details to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Can I send you my portfolio/website and get some tips and thoughts on my work?
Unfortunately I do not have the time and energy to do portfolio reviews and offer advice/feedback via email, sorry. However, there are several great sites with wonderful communities like Dribbble and Behance where you can look to get feedback on your work.

I would like to use your work in a presentation for school. Is that OK?
If it is for school or educational use, yes, as long as the work is properly credited.

I'm interested in an internship with NoPattern. Are you accepting or looking for interns?
No, I am not looking for interns at this time.

Who designed this site?
I created the design of this site but it was developed and brought to life by the incredibly talented team at Mighty in Grand Rapids, MI.

I have a question that is not answered here. Can I still email you?
As I said in the introduction to this section, I get a lot of emails with questions. I cannot guarantee a response but feel free to email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Please note, I cannot provide hi-res images of my work unless it is for press in a printed publication.


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