Noa Emberson is a Graphic Designer, Illustrator and Photographer from Maui, Hawaii. He had a Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree in Graphic Design from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His talent is evident in the range of work he has done (my personal favorite is his ‘The Little Things” series). He is currently working on a new “Visual Mixtape” series.


Thank you so much for letting us have this interview! Here are my questions. First off, we’d like to know more about you. Can you tell us a little something about yourself? What influenced you to choose the creative fields as your career path?

My name is Noa Emberson and I was born and raised (mostly) in Hawaii, except for a few of my younger years spent overseas with my family in Brazil, Ecuador, and the Philippines (dad was a shrimp farmer). Mom, on the other hand, was an artist and got me interested in drawing and painting at an early age. In high school, I discovered digital photography and, more importantly, Photoshop. After a brief stint of computer science courses in college I decided coding was not for me and I decided to switch to graphic design and haven’t looked back since.

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How does designing influence your everyday life? And does your environment influence your designs?

Well, I work in house as a graphic designer by day so I’m constantly playing with type and image. That’s what pays the bills. While the projects that land in my lap aren’t always the most inspiring, it always gives me an opportunity to practice my typography and layout skills. If you can find inspiration in the small projects that come your way, finding inspiration in the big ones will be a snap, at least in my experience. At night is when I take on freelance work, or work on personal projects and this is when I’m able to spread my wings and do the types of projects that I’m truly interested in. In terms of environmental influences, working as a graphic designer in Hawaii is rougher than it seems! The will power needed to not play in the sun all day instead of working can be draining! I swear that people are more productive in places with snow outside their windows… Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not complaining.

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Do you draw inspiration from other artists?

I am constantly scrolling through my Google reader for inspiration. My inspiration folder that I save images to is starting to get a bit out of hand. I need to find an intern or something to categorize the thousands of images I have saved over the years. Haha. That said, I’ve always enjoyed the saying that goes something like “looking at design is not the same as designing” or something like that. I believe I saw it on a poster someone made that is now buried in my inspiration folder. Anyway, like many people, I can fall into the rabbit hole of looking at all the pretty images other people are making and not getting busy myself. It’s important to find the balance between finding inspiration and actually working. In terms of specific creatives that I most look up to at the moment would be Scott Hansen, Wolfgang Tillmans, Paul Rand, Chip Kidd, Dieter Rams, David Carson, and the list goes on and on.

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You do illustrations, graphic design and photography. Does your work have a common theme or a signature style that link them to you as the designer?

It’s true. I’m part designer, part illustrator, part photographer. At the end of the day, I just like to be creative. Whether it’s with a mouse, brush, or lens I’m trying to figure out how to maximize my creativity and push myself to try new things. I think this can be seen in the body of work supplied here, it’s all over the place! While I tried to limit the projects shown to the ones that I most incorporated Photoshop in (since this is a Photoshop blog), the truth is I am most interested in combining raster images (Photoshop) with vector (Illustrator) and type (InDesign). So I’m constantly switching between these programs to get the most out of what each specializes in. I feel that I am too early on in my career to be limited by a signature style or common theme. I have so much more to learn first! Instead, I’m trying to spend my time doing a wide range of work, which I hope in time will help me develop a unique style of my own. At the end of the day, I just want the work that I produce to be of the highest quality possible and to make sure that it is able to stand up to similar projects in the field.

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