Mel Climer’s earliest experiences with art include drawing in elementary school. He said that during those days, he would draw the wheels on his friends’ car drawings in exchange for black sheets of paper so he could do more car drawing.
Clilmer is one of the professional photographers whose art was curated for the Denison City Hall “Art in the Hall” exhibit.
“I’ve always wanted to be an artist… and a herpetologist studying reptiles… but I grew out of that,” he said.
Now as a professional graphic designer, he gets to take his love of art and make money instead of more materials to create art.
“I guess I was heavily influenced by TV because I remember loving the design of the Monkees’ logo, the oval Batman logo, and I loved how Darrin on Bewitched would draw up concepts that were pitched to clients for their advertising,” he said.
Climer answered a few question about how he has used his love of art to create the masterful life he envisioned.
Q. How and when did camera work fit into the graphic design work you do?
A. While working on a design degree in college, I also studied photography. During my senior year, we designed an album cover for the school of music. I realized then how important it was to have good photos to work with.
Right out of college I got a job at Garrett Metal Detectors’ corporate office. I was tasked with creating an in-house art department and soon discovered they had all the gear for a full photo studio… 4x5, medium format, and 35 mm cameras; studio lights; everything. I immediately started setting up to shoot in-house for product shots, ads, covers, packaging, etc.
Q. How did you get interested in graphic design? How did you learn to do what you do?
A. I liked the idea of someone paying me to create art. I didn’t want to risk creating fine art pieces and have no one buy them. I was open to being an illustrator, creating logos, designing ads and all so I got a BFA in advertising design from the University of North Texas.
Q. Earlier you made a comment, “Every design, photo, and illustration is created with a healthy dose of positive goodness.” What is your motivation behind your design work?
I have always tried to be positive about my work and life in general. While I was at Garrett I started freelancing on the side. After having a dramatic Christian conversion in high school, I really had a heart for churches and ministries so I focused there when I started Climer Design. Even now some of my best clients are ministries that I’ve worked with since those early days.
Q. What do you do to boost your creativity? Why is being creative important to you?
A. I am constantly drawing inspiration from what others are doing in art, film, music… everywhere. It’s been said “You can’t create in a vacuum.” I get ideas and inspiration constantly from what I see and read. I was raised with music and I’ve played drums since I was a kid. My dad’s vinyl collection was a wealth of inspiration from the music to the album cover designs. For years I’ve been fascinated by the design and fonts of old signage so I’m constantly photographing vintage neon signs. Those images have made their way into several of my designs.
Q. What is your favorite design or accomplishment?
A. Always the next one! I rarely finish a design and feel like I couldn’t have done it better. I’ve worked on Denison’s Doc Holliday Saints & Sinners Festival since the first year and I love creating the graphics and layouts for that. The Music on Main designs are always fun to work on too. The label projects I get to do for Homestead Winery and the other wineries they are associated with is a nice challenge. Ivanhoe Ale Works’ labels give me an opportunity to do some hand illustrations which I don’t get to do as often as I’d like.
Q. Is there anything else you would like people to know about your art, photography and design?
A. Good, professional design is an investment in your business, organization, or event that will set the tone for everything you do to promote it. It’s usually the first thing people see. If your logo is goofy looking and your advertising materials look cheap then it’s hard to get people excited about what you’re doing.
Mel Climer has done numerous graphic design projects for Denison Chamber of Commerce, the city of Denison, and Denison Arts Council amongst his many clients. Mel Climer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Climer Design, check out www.climerdesign.com.
Mary Karam is a freelance writer for the Herald Democrat.