1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
Hey there, I’m Harold Apples from Kentucky. I’ve been involved in the arts all of my life, I even went to an art magnet high school that got me thinking of a career in the arts at an early age. College found me taking the traditional design/art student route, while at the same time pursuing music with friends.
If you’ve ever been in a band you know how much traveling and performing can teach you. I think everything about being in a band directly affected and immensely helped my design career— You have to learn to work well with others and compromise on an outcome that you want to remain proud of; you learn that if you’re not pouring yourself into everything you do and letting that shine through then no one will give a crap about your work, and you learn above all how stinking hard you have to work to make good things happen and to get noticed. Almost all of my favorite designers have been in bands and I don’t think it’s a coincidence.
Fast forward and after 10 years of doing the band thing semi-full time I settle down > put the band on indefinite hiatus > move to Austin Texas > get married > take my first proper job at an agency out west in Denver > get burnt out on agency life > consider leaving agency and working with my hands > take a job at a whiskey company in Kentucky > transition to a job in Tennessee with Lonely Planet > had a kid > moved into a more managerial role at my job > got back together with the band to finish our last record > started illustrating at night to reconnect with my passion… and here we are.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
I’ve always been in love with design from the golden era of the ad world. Flat corporate symbols that have been belabored over until everything is balanced and purposeful is my jam. I’m also in love with painting and I think that love of texture influences my work. Often even in my more illustrative work, there is a sense of geometric construction right alongside thick texture and grit.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
Honestly at the moment… photoshop. I used to paint and make linocuts, which I love, but at this stage in my life, I need something that I can break out right after the kid goes to bed, and just spend a few hours putting spit and polish on a piece. I’ve been using photoshop since the first addition of layers… so it just feels like an old friend.
4. What is your artistic process like?
I typically make a few quick sketches that I’ll trace in illustrator, or honestly just dive right in and start making vector art. Once I’ve settled on a final layout for a piece and feel like shapes aren’t going to move much more, I’ll then hop into photoshop and start painting over shapes using a Wacom and custom photoshop brushes that are dialled into just the right style I prefer.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
Very much inspired by the old and new. The masters like Saul Bass and Paul Rand had such a simplistic style, that would get to the underlying concept for a poster or business symbol so instantly, that it’s hard not to still find inspiration in all of their classic work. But I’m also really inspired by the new generation of designers, who have started their careers with amazing tools like the Adobe suite and are pushing execution to places that my generation didn’t. More specifically, firms that I follow and appreciate include Heads of State, Invisible Creature, Print Mafia, Tad Carpenter, good ole Draplin.. the modern classics.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
Well like most designers I completely critique the aesthetic of everything. Which I think, you could argue, makes me less happy, because good design is hard to come by. Does this mean being a designer leads to an unhappy life? I need to hear a Radiolab episode on this topic stat!
7. Where did you study?
Got my BFA at Western Kentucky University. We’re the school whose mascot is a big red blob…. Named Big Red.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
NO WAY to working at an agency, that’s a young man’s game. I’ve had my fill of working 90 hours a week on projects I can’t stand. I don’t want to totally knock the agency life though, more often than not you get to work on amazing projects with great perks and you get to work with people that are passionate about the industry. But these days I’m more interested in trying out my entrepreneur hat, possibly selling branded products featuring my artwork apart from my day job (which I love) at Lonely Planet.
9. What about in ten?
Ten is hard… I haven’t lived in the same town or house for more than 3 years since high school so I stopped trying to predict my future years ago. But I’ll try. How about owning my own storefront in a small downtown square selling products from my lifestyle brand.. and coffee. That sounds good to me.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
I have ambitions but I don’t consider myself an ambitious person. I want to make a living making art that fulfils me that brings home enough cash to allow my family to have food that isn’t full of preservatives and for my kids to have an unobstructed and fun childhood, anything past that I’m going to consider a luxury.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
When I’m happy: Eggs Benedict while traveling in a new cafe with great coffee.
When I’m depressed: Totinos Pizza Rolls… man they are so good in an evil way.
12. Favourite book?
Gonna pull a Jon Cusack here and say Cash by Johnny Cash.
13. Favourite genre of music?
I’ve played in lots of bands from metal to post-rock, jangly indie-rock to straight-up country. But I can say without a doubt that the early Blues is my favorite moment in music in history. I’m obsessed with it. I’m even compiling a book of photographs I’ve taken of dead musicians headstones. I firmly believe that most modern music flows directly what was established in the early days of the Blues.
14. What are your hobbies?
Apart from art, now that I have a son, I would say just generally being outdoors. We want to ensure that he really experiences the world like we were able to (not completely absorbed in technology and screens) and so whenever we can we’re hiking trails, going for walks, taking weekend trips to find waterfalls, anything to help us stay connected with our humanity. My largest struggle with this hobby is that I live in the south, I’m overweight and I sweat like a friggin pig. So it’s an uncomfortable hobby, but I’m really enjoying watching our son become more and more fascinated with nature.
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
Honestly apart from art, I’m not 100% sure how I would have a lucrative career. I’m not savvy, I’m not fast talking and I’m not charismatic. I think I would have to work with my hands. Before I did art full time, I worked in a coffee shop for a few years, maybe I would go back into the service industry. “Yes sir, thank you, sir… would you like a muffin with your coffee?”… Yeah, I think I could do that.