Each of our 2019 Ascenders spoke with us about their design inspirations and aspirations. Here is our interview with Daniel Brokstad, a young freelance designer/art director based (for now) in New York.

What schools did you attend?

I took half my design bachelor at Norwegian school of visual arts, then the last two years at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.

Did you have a teacher, past employer, client, or colleague who was instrumental in your career?

I think I’ve learned a lot working at Sagmeister & Walsh, generally and specifically within typography. Although I had already been working a lot with lettering before and made smaller illustrative fonts, I made my first-ever working font for an S&W client. It ended up being for a very big client. I have then designed several projects with custom fonts of various nature for projects, and each has been a learning process, requiring me to take on a new typographic challenge. I got the chance to learn a completely new skill set in typography, while I kept on exploring and creating custom lettering for many projects.

Did they have any specific advice/words of wisdom that you remember?

No specific words, but rather a methodology of how to approach projects and constantly challenge the design being put out.

Lucifer Sans type design specimen.

Which of your design projects are your favorites? Why?

It always changes over time, but my recent favorite is Lucifer Sans. It’s my first commercially released font, and a side project that I’ve been working on for the past two years. The font itself takes inspiration from Scandinavian geometry and minimalism, mixing it with a healthy dose of black metal attitude. Nine weights and widths, multi-language support and two additional stylistic sets – making it a very versatile font. It’s a passion project, where I really took the opportunity to expand on the type specimen to show the attitude of the font in its full display. I’m very happy about how it turned out and for all the positive response I’ve been getting.

What’s your worst design experience and project? Why?

At one point, I was working on a packaging design project where I would get called up every morning to be told about the client’s demands, which they expected to be updated and delivered by midday. I was also working on a custom type treatment for the packaging. I had to update the font, redo the branding, and apply it on different packages specs within just a couple of hours. Needless to say, ridiculous demands made the entire process rushed. Another studio we worked with presented it to the client. They seemed to accept many of the client’s demands that continuously changed the design for the worse. It was a nightmare.

Where do you work now? In a studio, independent, other? What’s a typical workday like?

I just finished up my contract at Sagmeister & Walsh, where I worked full time for several years. Currently, I’m working as a freelance designer/art director in New York City while figuring out what exactly I want to do next. A typical workday for me usually starts with a strong black coffee and some good music. Now I work from home, but have previously been able to work remotely, so I’ve spent a lot of my time for the last couple of years traveling while working. I continued to have very busy and long days, but it was refreshing to change the country and setting as often as I did.

Cover for The New York Times Magazine, referencing the Women’s March.

What are your hobbies besides typography or design?

Would answering “illustration” be cheating? I’ve always been very fond of technology and gadgets, both in looking up how things work and doing some first-hand tinkering. This same curiosity also blends over to my interest in movies, where I’m interested in how they’re made, especially movies from the past that use practical effects in intriguing ways.

Lastly, I’d say traveling, which might sound very generic, but I mean it to the fullest extent of exploration when traveling – traveling alone, staying away from tourist zones, meeting locals, learning about their culture, worldview, norms, food, and so on.

Do know any of the other Ascenders personally? If yes, whom ?

Sadly, I don’t.

Do you have any favorite designers and/or artists? Who are they?

Going for one of the classic artists, my favorite would be Salvador Dali. I was fascinated by his work since I was very young, and used to stare into his paintings in a book I had, trying to find all the details and hidden messages. Something captivated me with these surrealist worlds he created and in the immense details.

Designwise, I’d say Armin Hofman and other Swiss designers from that era, because they created excellent typographic designs that still hold up today.

Twenty prints inside the annual report designed for Zumtobel, an Austrian lighting manufacturer.

Do you think you have a design philosophy or methodology? If yes or no what is it?

I’ve always been a believer of working hard and being brave in your designs. Be your own worst critic. If you continuously push yourself forward, improve as you go along, strive to do something good, and work hard to get there – people will notice… and it will pay off!

Now that you have had some time to think about it, what does the award mean to you?

I hope it will contribute to helping push me forward, and gain more exposure, new contacts, and opportunities that come these new connections.

Instagram:@danielbrokstad
Twitter: @danielbrokstad
Facebook: @danielbrokstaddesign

To see the list of all the 2019 Ascenders, click here.