Interview with freelance designer/illustrator and IDEA grad, Aaron Campbell

Interview with freelance designer/illustrator and IDEA grad, Aaron Campbell

Aaron Campbell is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Vancouver, BC. His clients include DreamWorks, Adobe and Nike Canada and he has over 600,000 project views on Behance!

On how his interest for illustration started shaping up, Aaron writes:

A combination of many things got me interested in illustration, such as the picture books I looked at as a kid, and the video games I played where I explored beautiful environments and interacted with all kinds of well-design characters. The feeling I got from these works of art were a key part of why they intrigued me so much. I always wanted to capture those same feelings, and at the age of 14 I figured out that I could do so with digital art.

On how he learned it all, Aaron writes:

About 90% of what I know is me just spending hours practicing on my own, dissecting other illustrator’s pieces to understand how they work, and experimenting. I started out on tagging forums making banners to go in my signature. I joined teams and art collectives along the way where I got tons of great feedback form the other members. A big turning point in my development is when I went to university and took an illustration and design program known as the IDEA Program [now the Bachelor of Design at Capilano University]. I learned a lot of the subtleties that really help take your technical ability to a whole other level and let me focus more on the story telling and character development in my art.

Aaron's creative process:

Often I like to jump straight into the final pieces quite quickly. I just get tons down on the canvas in Photoshop then make revisions and chip away at it as I develop the stylistic approach more. My sketches are usually very loose and basic in order to leave myself a lot of breathing room since I seem to discover something new and unexpected every time I work on a piece. Planning too much I find leaves little room for serendipity in my work (which is big part of why I love art and design so much).

Book recommendations:

Two books I really enjoyed were “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be” and “Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite” by Paul Arden.


It seems I find some of my best ideas and inspirations come to me while riding the bus to and from work. It’s one of the only times of the day where I have absolutely nothing to do, but just sit there, listen to music and look out the window. Watching all of the scenery and listening to my favorite music is always therapeutic and I find it’s a time where I can really think hard and hash out ideas for projects. That, and lots of caramel macchiatos.

A productive day:

A productive day would basically involve me getting in that perfect frame of mind where I just won’t stop working. Especially when I’ve got all of my projects planned out and just need to execute them. A smooth and quick day without any interruptions to my workflow is ideal.

On today's opportunities for remote design work:

I think it creates a lot of really great opportunities that would otherwise never come into fruition. With e-mail, Skype, Dropbox, etc, it makes it very easy to communicate and collaborate.

On steady work for an agency versus freelancing:

At this point I’m not 100% sure. Currently I’ve been freelancing and have already experienced the quick ups and downs: for a week I’ll be sitting around hardly doing anything, then all of a sudden all four of my clients want their projects done within the same two days. I’m liking it so far, keeps things interesting. If all goes well I’ll ride out my freelance job as long as I can. Working from home is a big plus too – technically my commute to work is about 5 feet.

One the ideal project:

I think my ideal project would be one that would let me exercise all of my skills and interests: digital illustration, creative (branding, concepts, etc), photo manipulation, and graphic design. A project that would work like clockwork from the back-end, and look strikingly beautiful up-front. The one project that has come the closest was the brochure campaign I did for CPAWS with my good friend Mustaali Raj.

See the full article: Interview With Illustrator Aaron Campbell


Aaron graduated in 2014 from the IDEA diploma program (now the Bachelor of Design). The above image, Heights, is from a personal graphic novel project set in the fictional city of Fleetwood, BC. Aaron is a digital illustrator who uses Photoshop to create environments, characters and stories.

For more on Aaron see: or email

Annual Valentine’s Day Card Fundraiser Sale at Capilano U this week!

Annual Valentine’s Day Card Fundraiser Sale at Capilano U this week!

IDEA Open Studio Day for the Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication degree program is Saturday, Feb 24, 2018

IDEA Open Studio Day for the Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication degree program is Saturday, Feb 24, 2018