At first glance, Hiller Goodspeed’s drawings may look simple, easy to interpret and straightforward, which is part of where the beauty of his work lies. Through his palatable, intentional work, Hiller communicates important messages of self-appreciation and self-sufficiency. His playful drawings have become popular memes for emotional expression and embracing your individuality.
Recently, Hiller collaborated with Warby Parker on a fun project for their Vancouver store launch. Before saying “yes” to their collaboration request, he considered whether it would be fun — and this fun filter is the primary decision-making tool he applies to each potential project.
We chatted with Hiller Goodspeed about his favourite medium (hint: it’s not as obvious as you’d think) and his dream project.
You have a very distinct style that defines your art, no matter the medium. Can you tell us about the process of finding that style and perfecting it?
I made art in a lot of different ways for a long time. In 2010, I fell in love and decided that I wanted to begin working more simply, because it was more fun. I began to shift away from “complex” work and discovered that you can still say a lot with simple drawings and that they look nicer. It took me a few years to get the hang of it but I drew every day and my style slowly emerged from the work I was producing.
Can you describe your creative process? Where do you start, what do you usually have on or around you, and how do you work?
I think a lot before I work, about things I see, overhear, or experience. That’s how I spend most of my time.
The ideas I have for drawings often come from different observations and I have to figure out how to pair them together.
Occasionally the words and pictures come to me all at once, which is a real treat. The physical part of my work doesn’t take long, but it’s the result of carefully distilled thought process.
When I sit down to work I’m usually at my desk in my apartment, listening to music and trying to do 2 or 3 other things at the same time. Working at night is preferable; I’ve always felt most like myself when it’s dark out.
You’ve dipped your toes in multiple mediums, including drawings, posters, collages, digital art, public art, and tattoo. What medium makes you happiest to see as an expression of your work?
I really enjoy collage work a lot more than might be evident when looking at everything I’ve done. I like the technical aspects of it — aligning colours, shapes, and images to form a delicate balance. I think I work best with small drawings; they most clearly communicate what I am trying to say, but collage work has always been something that I’ve wanted to do more of.
What do you do to get out of a creative slump?
I wait for it to pass. There have been months where I don’t draw or make anything at all. I have gotten better about not letting these periods bum me out or make me feel like I’ve lost something, especially since the ideas eventually come back. It just comes and goes sometimes, you know? There’s not much you can do but ride it out.
How has your art changed over time?
I have slowly stopped trying to create art like someone else and have begun to create art sincerely. That’s the biggest change.
Tell us about a career highlight.
Once I saw something I had made in the gutter by a bus stop downtown and I thought it was incredible that my artwork had turned into another piece of regular garbage.
Tell us about your recent collaboration with Warby Parker. How did that come to be, and why did you choose to work with them?
It started with an email. Actually, all my freelance projects usually do. Someone at Warby Parker had seen my capsule vending machine that I have at Lucky’s Comics and asked if I would like to make one for the new Warby Parker store in Vancouver. I thought about whether the project would be fun to work on, decided it would be, and things developed from there.
What’s one dream project that you would love to do or be involved with?
It would be fun to work on a mural, maybe a small one. It’s exciting to think about what that would be like, and what it would look like.
What I want to do is always changing.
I also want to make and distribute a cassette of field recordings that I capture around Vancouver, so that is my own personal dream project at the moment.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Make art for yourself— art that you like that says what you want it to say.
Check out Hiller Goodspeed on Instagram.