Anthony Blair-Borders is Donordigital’s web designer, a role that is integral to many of the client projects throughout our agency. Anthony joins the team with many years of experience in advertising, digital design and art. Donordigital’s blogger-in-chief Michael Stein asked Anthony a few questions.
Michael: Describe your advertising background working as an art director and creative.
Anthony: I began my career in print design, illustration, and storyboards. My evolution into the digital space began when I decided to make my own online portfolio and I subsequently taught myself HTML. I quickly realized that knowing how to code added a brand new, marketable skill set that was in high demand. And, as I expanded my developer’s toolkit, I began to recognize that design for the web is a completely different beast from print design. Print is largely about working with static graphics that interact with an audience in very specific ways, but design for the web is dynamic; it moves, grows, shrinks and flows based on ever-changing content and ever-evolving technology. The web is also about user experience and interactivity. Needless to say, this was all very exciting stuff to learn about. And it continues to evolve and present new challenges all the time, which for me is pretty exciting.
Michael: Your bio says you’ve won some awards.
Anthony: In 2007, I was working on a series of enterprise-level direct mail pieces for a telecommunications giant. These were really expensive, complex pieces that were going to CEOs and corporate heads and featured all kinds of strange materials like vinyl and metal and were often folded together with the complexity of Origami. The particular piece in question was for walkie-talkie service. While concepting, I was inspired by Eric Carle’s children’s books The Very Quiet Cricket and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. When opened, the piece chirped like a walkie-talkie (and consistently startled everyone in the agency it was so loud) and worked as a flip book with a call-and-response on the left-and-right flip panels. No matter what panel you flipped to, the result was the same: there was a problem, but our client’s service got the job done.
Michael: What interests you about working at Donordigital,?
Anthony: Traditional advertising always left me feeling a little flat. I loved the work and making gorgeous things, but I hated that huge amounts of my time were spent selling products and services that I very rarely cared about. But I love working with non-profits, because at the end of the day I feel like I’m using my skills and talents for something worthwhile. So far, I can truthfully say that I love working with all of our clients — though I have to admit that PETA comes up with some really interesting projects, especially during the holidays. Secret Santa and PETA Presents were both big fun and big challenges
Michael: You bio says you often donate artwork and illustrations for various local charities and events.
Anthony: Years ago I had an opportunity to provide illustrations for a Couture for the Cure fashion show and sketch art gallery sale. I was asked to work for a milliner who made all of her hats on the fly without working from sketches, so I was basically tasked to make sketches of her hats for the art sale. But I was inspired by the quirkiness of her hats and so I drew them being worn by whimsical, faerie-like creatures. The hat designer was pretty perturbed that I didn’t make straight-up fashion sketches, but they turned out to be very popular and I sold all of them. The best part of the experience was getting to take part in the fashion show and the whole process. It was also my first gallery show, so that was exciting as well.
I’ve also worked multiple times making posters and T-shirt graphics for benefit concerts for OneAtmosphere and SF Climate Challenge. I’m a bit of a music nerd, and I’ve always had a fondness (well, obsession, really) with concert posters and album cover art, so getting to make posters is great fun.
Climatepalooza 2010 with CAKE Concert Poster
Michael: What other passions and hobbies inspire you?
Anthony: I’m a fine artist in my spare time. As an artist, I draw inspiration from a wide array of sources, from traditional painters like Paul Klee and Max Ernst to lowbrow artists like Joel Sorren and Jeff Soto. I also grew up with a big collection of comics by Jean “Moebius” Giraud, who was a huge influence. I also find inspiration in nature, architecture, fashion, music, science fiction and fantasy literature, comic books, pop culture, video games, personal experience… just about everything. I soak it all up, purée it in my subconscious, and pour it back out. I guess I’m the artistic equivalent of Jamba Juice.
The Guitarist, acrylic on watercolor paper, 2007
Right now, my big focus is on my family. My wife and I have a 1-year-old and I spend almost all of my free time with them. Watching my child grow and develop has to be one of the highlights of my life. I love music. I’m one of those guys that used to work in a record store and has big opinions about bands, producers, and composers… and I used to be real snotty about it, too. I’ve mellowed out quite a bit in my old age, thankfully, and I’m less cranky about which Beatles album is best (the correct answer is Revolver). Finally, I’m really into science fiction and fantasy literature and comic books. I’m also big into video games, though since I have a toddler at home, I don’t get as much time for them as I used to.