Design Links: A Chain of Creative Inspiration, Part 13


Editor’s Note: This is part thirteen in Emily Potts’ inspirational series, Design Links. Every other week she features three artists whose work offers fresh, fun, and stimulating creative inspiration. Each artist picks the next link—someone who personally inspires him/her. Check out the twelfth part in the series, featuring Claire Marie Vogel, Sarah Palmer, and Brock Davis.

Brock Davis is inspired by …

Michael Cina

He inspires me because of the way he effortlessly fuses the classic disciplines of organic art with digital art. He is a brilliant abstract painter, designer, and typographer. I first discovered his work a few years ago when I stumbled upon many of his striking album artworks for Ghostly International. His work is visually striking yet decidedly restrained and painstakingly simple, relaying a masterful understanding of composition. With so many superfluous bells and whistles available for designers and artists to experiment with in the digital age, Michael’s minimal aesthetic proves that if you know how to make the most out of less, it truly can be more.


Michael created some incredible artwork for Matthew Dear’s Beams album. The work fuses his strengths as a painter and typographer, resulting in a design that feels both classic and modern. When I first saw this work, I was inspired by the organic feel of the piece. It reinforces how effectively classic art forms can enhance the sterile feel of digital and how the two can complement each other. Work like this encourages me to keep getting my hands dirty and stay connected to organic art making.


Michael’s album design work for Spectral Essentials is one the first pieces I was drawn to. Driven purely by typography, the design is a clear lesson in simplicity. It looks effortless, but every aspect of the composition is clearly crafted and meticulously thought through. This piece inspires me on many levels, and reminds me of the importance of paying attention to the details, especially with typography. The words themselves are the art.

Michael Cina is inspired by …

Hamish Muir

His work has spanned over four decades and he is still going strong with amazing and relevant work. You can still see and feel his hand in the design, which gives it a warm and tactile feel.


Hamish started working with Paul McNeil to create a series of typefaces. I love that they have been producing large format posters to celebrate the release. The posters are as good as the typefaces they created. I took down my Wim Crouwel poster over my desk and replaced it with this.

Are you a killer poster designer too? Be sure to enter HOW’s Poster Design Awards


Earlier in Hamish’s career he worked under Wim Crouwel at the Museum Boymans-van Beuningen in Rotterdam with a couple other guys under the moniker 8vo. They created 40 catalogs and 25 posters for the museum in the span of five years while also producing 8vo magazine and a number of other projects. All of the work is visually striking and varied in style, bridging post-Swiss and Dutch graphic design. This poster is a great use of space and typography. There are a couple of more posters from this series that are equally amazing.

A new start by Emily Potts …

Carolyn Sewell

In the past few years, Carolyn Sewell has been making quite a name for herself as a lettering artist and illustrator working for prominent clients, as well as focusing on personal passions, like her year-long “Postcards to my Parents” project which gained her some notoriety and changed her focus from graphic design to hand-lettering. Her visual note-taking is what attracted me to her—the way she graphically interprets people’s words and drawing out impactful statements.

1015_Cover [P].indd

I love what she did for this cover of Milwaukee Magazine. The contrasting hand-painted lettering is interconnected and perfectly fills the canvas, allowing plenty of breathing room for readability, while the masthead pops off the page.


This poster works so well on so many levels. The execution of the American Eagle, regal as it is, carries cans of SPAM across the country for the SPAMERICAN Tour 2015. The SPAM food truck traveled to 12 American cities, serving up special dishes by local chefs, and each stop had its own limited-edition poster. Sewell’s rendition, with her nod to the Presidential seal, serves her city well.

Tune in next time to see who inspires Carolyn Sewell.

T8185 (1)Delve into the vibrant history of contemporary illustration with Fifty Years of Illustration by Lawrence Zeegen and Caroline Roberts. Whether you want to learn more about the flagrant idealism of the 1960s, the austere realism of the 1970s, the superfluous consumerism of the 1980s, the digital eruption of the 1990s, or the rapid diversification of illustration in the early 2000s, get an in-depth look at the historical contexts pertaining to the important artifacts and artists of the illustration industry in the latter half of the 20th century. Get it here.

One thought on “Design Links: A Chain of Creative Inspiration, Part 13

  1. Mira Edorra

    Hello Emily Potts,
    I am a regular reader of your Chain of Creative Inspirations article. Your design, your words, your plan all are impressed me so much.
    I am very thankful to you that your inspirational articles are very helpful for me.