For this week’s industry spotlight, we’re looking into one of dance music’s most reputable names in the graphic design / logo game. From pushing the brands of names like HUCCI, Slander, and Kayzo to doing freelance work with up and coming acts, Chadwick Makela has become one of the most sought after graphic designers amongst DJs and producers for his unique artistic style and top quality work, which can take an aggressive approach or more of a soft or soothing vibe. We got a chance to talk to Chadwick about what it takes to be in the graphic design game in today’s dance music scene.


How did you get into graphic design? What was your journey like?

I got into graphic design fairly naturally. It just seemed like a natural progression and became a culmination of my natural talent mixed with various studies in painting, drawing, ceramics, and architecture. My journey was fairly average, sprinkled with a hint of legal trouble and a double dose of denial to the design department at my university to light a fire under my ass and really reevaluate my direction and drive in life.

Who are your artistic influences? Why?

This is a toughy, because I can’t really put a name to any specific influences. I try not to get too involved in what other people are doing so my voice doesn’t get muddled in the process. Shit, I think the best answer for this would be the internet as my biggest influence… Haha. Some of my favorite graphic artists and people that are killing it right now though are Beeple, Samuel Burgess Johnson, and HK Covers.


Does music influence you artistically? If so, who?

Music 100% influences my art. My client base pretty much hits most genres of music and listening to the specific genre always puts me in the mood to make appropriate artwork for it.

Can you talk a little bit about how the creative process works for you? What gets those creative muscles moving?

Man, nature really refreshes me creatively. Living in Washington, I’m blessed with beautiful and inspiring landscapes by just walking out the door. I always try and make time to take advantage of the outdoors and I think whenever I come back from backpacking I always feel the most driven.
Kin Yau Photo

Credit: Kin Yau Photo

Coming from the creative side, what are some of the best ways you deal with writer’s block?

Little bit of an overlap with the last question, but if the outdoors don’t cure my writer’s block then new music or new toys always do. The feeling of new software to learn is definitely motivating. And new music to listen to definitely is the icing on that cake.

How has your view of the electronic music landscape unfolded over the years?

My view of the scene has probably unfolded pretty uniquely. Coming in as a fan and turning that love into a career. I feel like I have a fairly interesting perspective being a creative in this industry but not the creative that everything sees, kind of like the water boy of the industry… Hahaha! Always try to make sure all my clients are tip top and ready to present themselves the best way possible.


Where do you envision yourself in 5 years? What will it take to get there?

In 5 years, I think it’d be dope to have a whole team with me. Obviously all being the best of the best though. It would allow me to take even more ambitious jobs and collaborate with like minded artists, relieve some of the stress of having a dozen projects open at once, and because of those reasons, the final product would be even more amazing.

Any advice for aspiring graphic artists? What would you tell your younger self if given the chance?

I have so much advice for younger designers but I think there are two big things they should remember. Ira Glass said it best, but if you don’t like what you’re creating right now, don’t give up. PRACTICE your craft and your talent will match your taste. And the second is never undervalue or let someone take advantage of you. DONT WORK FOR FREE! You have something other people want, and I hate seeing new designers create amazing work and not seeing anything but a lame shout out for it. Like yeah… shout outs are cool and all but shit how is that kid supposed to take that shout out and reinvest in himself? How is he supposed to get that new tablet or get the newest version of that software he wants with “likes” on Facebook?
Ape Drums Photo Credit: Kin Yau Photo
Downloadable desktop backgrounds from Chadwick HERE!