Meet : Byron A. Gronseth

Meet Byron A. Gronseth, a twenty-eight year old designer located in Seattle Washington.

Q1. At what point in your life did you know you would be an artist? I have two stories that I feel best describe my creative origins. I’ve been drawing and playing with colors since I was a child, but when I was in third grade, my parents got a call from my teacher because I was reprimanded in art class. We were supposed to draw trees with colored pencils and everyone else in the class had painted bright colored summer and autumn trees. I decided to draw a tree in winter, and it was sad, blue in color and had no leaves, only gnarled branches and exposed roots. Apparently this was against the rules, and my dad had to argue with my teacher at length over the meaning of art, perspective and expression.

My first experience with digital design was when my mom took me to work with her at a government computer technology office. She let me play on her computer while she had meetings, and I opened up Microsoft Paint for the first time. It was a thrilling experience being able to color and draw on a computer screen instead of paper.

Q2. Who has been the most encouraging person in your life? While my parents have always supported my creative endeavors (which I’m wholeheartedly appreciative and eternally grateful) I have to say my best friend Andrew has been the most encouraging when I needed it the most. We have both been in very long-standing creative ruts at different times in our lives, and without prompting, we have kicked each others’ asses into gear at the time we really needed it most. We critique each other openly and honestly and always seek and value each others’ opinion first. We have different styles and different strengths, but generally share the same outlook on quality and have equal passion in the creative world. I don’t hesitate to say this is one of the strongest reasons why we are best friends.

Q3. What inspires you? I have always been inspired by literary and  story-telling or any medium that conveys strong visuals while exploring and engaging the depths of our imagination. I grew up with a strong interest in Greek and Egyptian mythology and under the care of adults who would read the Hobbit and Grimm’s Fairy Tales to me when I was very little. I would watch movies like the Dark Crystal and Legend, the Neverending Story (also one of my favorite books, especially since the main character becomes part of the story – the movie hardly does the book justice), all of which have dark and strongly visual themes. While I still enjoy those films, I have since moved on to even more visually arresting films with strong story-telling themes like The Fall, The Fountain, and Mirrormask. Books such as American Gods and the Sandman series of graphic novels (by author Neil Gaiman) also inspire me by tapping into both darkly visual themes as well as classic mythology. In addition to story-telling, I have an obsession for exploring the mental and physical battles between good and evil.

Q4. What medium still intimidates you? To this day, I still get nervous around color, especially in permanence (paint , marker, etc). My comfort zone is B/W and traditional sketch & ink drawing, so anytime I involve color I get nervous. Strangely, this is also evident in my clothing and style sensibilities, my closet is full of black, gray and white.

Q5. What artistic trend do you dislike? While there has been a prolific return in illustration in most visual media (especially in the pop surrealist scene), I am seriously hating on the 80’s/90’s erratic bright colored, abstract polygonal throwback style that has popped up in the last couple years, embraced and ubiquitously served up by hipster giants American Apparel and Urban Outfitters. I don’t mean the genuine NYC “funky fresh” street style from the early nineties that artists like MIA have brought back in interesting ways, I’m speaking specifically to this awkward and painfully disjointed collection of poor design choices that lacks any sort of unified visual presence in the urban hipster community. Someone please over-write this nonsense with something of value…

Q6. What has been you favorite piece of someone else’s art up until this point in your life? This is a very difficult question, but I will try and be precise. I really have 2 favorite artists of whose artwork and visual style I consistently admire: Edward Gorey the illustrator and Dave McKean the photocollage artist.

Q7. Do you think you have a specific style? What is that style and do you see yourself evolving out of that anytime soon? In my graphic design, most often I enjoy photo collage overlays and manipulation, as well as a strong typographic presence. this describes my personal preference, but of course that visual aesthetic does not mesh well with all businesses or projects. For special cases, my “back-pocket” style is a clean, minimalist approach that still employs strong type design, but often entails stark backgrounds and overall has a much cleaner look and feel. I feel this diversity is both extremely useful as a backup and helps balance my skillset as a designer, until I get to that point in my career where I get to pick the projects I want to work on. but then, don’t we all want to be there?

Byron is currently working full-time as an in-house designer at an internationally recognized security conference organization called Black Hat. In his free time, he has a number of local and regional freelance clients that he works with to build and shape brands & identities, logos, collateral materials, special one-off projects, small websites, basic web production and more. If you’re interested in his work or would like to contact him, visit his site

February 16, 2010