This week we wanted to bring you some thoughts from Minneapolis creative Grant Spanier, a talented individual working across multiple fields. We had the pleasure of letterpress printing and slapping some gold foil on business cards for one of his many ventures, highqlty. The busy designer, writer and director recently launched his new website, so definitely pop over to view his incredible work!
SL: Where are you from, and why Minneapolis?
GS: I’m from St. Cloud, an hour-ish north of here. I went to college in the Twin Cities and have stuck around since. Helluva creative culture here, that’s why Minneapolis.
SL: How and when did you get into designing/writing/directing?
GS: I started writing more seriously as a senior in high school, once sports ended and I had a windfall of free time. I carried this passion into college, but was doing it outside of my major, as a passion. This led me down some creative paths that eventually arrived at the doorstep of a small startup, which is where I started designing along with my writing work. I wasn’t designing by choice, but the startup was booking design work for clients but didn’t have anyone to execute…conveniently I was the only one on the team with a bootlegged (SORRY ADOBE!) copy of the Creative Suite. And thus, I started designing. I quickly fell in love with design and used it to fuel my passion for all things creative.
I knew the culmination of these interests would be film. It used to be a desire to write a novel (still possible), but right now writing for the screen and directing is what fascinates me. The elements of story, design, music, photography and the necessary collaborative nature of filmmaking get me way, way excited.
SL: What is the first project you ever designed?
GS: I can’t even recall the first project I designed ever, but I DO remember the first paid gig I got. I designed the logo + business cards for my roommate’s dad’s consulting company—Blue Ice Systems. My solution was a trendy, obnoxious logotype, complete with some sweet blue gradients, baby.
SL: We would love to highlight a project of yours. What have you worked on that is most exciting to you?
GS: I got the chance to write and co-direct a music video for a super talented artist named Vaski—my first official gig as a director. It was an almost surreal experience to approach the artist about collaborating, pitch my concept (a non-traditional concept, too) and bring it to life. I worked my ass off and poured my heart into this one. I think it’s a great representation of my aesthetic, my voice, and my abilities. I got to work with some of the most talented people in the city and make something I’m really proud of (it’s been viewed over 1 million times, which is a fun milestone to hit)
SL: What and where are your inspirations?
GS: In terms of consuming inspiration: I read, a lot. I read about a screenplay every week and always have at least one book I’m reading. My favorite fiction author is Chuck Palahniuk. My favorite non-fiction author is Seth Godin—who I got to work with in NY in 2013, and who has been a guest on my podcast. Besides that I try to get to a movie every week, or at least watch one at home.
In terms of creating inspiration: conversations and collaborations with talented, passionate people. I host a weekly podcast that gets me into conversations with an amazing array of folks. I also co-work and collaborate with really rad people + clients (for example: Studio Hump Day where I co-work with the homies from VON91 on Wednesdays).
The spectrum of stuff I get my hands into keeps me super engaged—sometimes that’s designing Greenroom Magazine, sometimes that’s podcasting, sometimes that’s directing a music video, sometimes that’s designing an interface for an iPhone app. The project variation keeps me sharp and moving fast.
SL: How has your creative process evolved since starting out?
GS: Hmm. That’s a big question. The short answer is this: I used to believe in a more sacred idea of “creativity.” After years of trying to “figure out” the creative process I now have a much less idealized perception of the process.
I’m more in tune with myself and my creative muscles are in better shape. So my process is quicker, more natural, and less frantic—I know my ability to find solutions as long as I a) GET TO WORK, b) communicate effectively, c) iterate and d) trust my instincts
The one constant piece of my process is writing. Whether it’s design, video production, or something in-between, I organize my thoughts by writing first.
SL: What do you like best about your job(s)?
GS: It’s so nauseatingly cliché.....but I really f**king love what I do and I get to wake up every day and work on things I’m passionate about. I love my independence, I love my ability to learn and grow, I love the opportunity to work with people I care about making things I care about. So, everything?
SL: How would your describe your design style?
GS: Efficient. Confident. Restrained.
SL: Who else in the local creative scene is inspiring you right now?
GS: Ahh. So many. To name just a few:
Brock Davis, Phil Jones, Braden Lee, Jake Woodbridge, Vince Koci, Jesse Draxler, Nora Purmort, Isaac Gale, Tricia Khouteretsky, Tony Franklin, Sarah Edwards, Jake Heinitz, Dschwen, Erin Pederson, A2F pictures, VON91, Roy Son, EGG (Eric Fawcett, Lisa McGuire), Kevin Horn + Kevin O'meara, Colleen Eversman...and there’s so many more people doing so many cool things. I’m surrounded by insanely talented and hardworking humans, it’s so rad.
SL: What tools of the trade do you swear by?
GS: Adobe Creative Suite (especially Illustrator, Story, InDesign, Photoshop, & Premiere), Evernote is incredible, my Wacom tablet is nice, Micron pens and sharpies for lettering, Sanebox/Boomerang for gmail make me kickass at email, TextExpander saves me time. I work on a top notch Macbook Pro Retina, Google Drive, Vimeo Pro. My cameras: an Olympus Stylus Epic, Contax t2, and wide Instax 210.
SL: How can people find you, hire you or work with you?
GS: Well, I use the Internets quite a bit. I’ve got a flashy new site over at grantdoeswork.com.
They can fill out this form to get started →
My podcast is at 10khrs.co.
SL: Anything else you’d like to add?
GS: When your main motivator comes from a sense of self, passion, and purpose, the results will probably be better. Stop trying to compete with, and comparing yourself to other people—it’s a big waste of energy. We can multiply our abilities by partnering with the right people, or we can waste energy trying to “win”—I prefer the former. Let’s make stuff together & make each other better.