MEET: ADAM VICAREL
Age / Location / Passion
28 / Denver, CO / Snowboarding, trail runs/hikes + climbing. And drinking on patios.
Also stoked about?
Design. More specifically, lettering. I love to pair drawn letterforms, words + phrases with visuals to tell a story that evokes emotion helps really drive home whatever message is intended to be conveyed. Also, I recently got back into climbing after what proved to be a very persistent shoulder injury that was only exacerbated by 2 months spent sleeping in a tent while backpacking through Europe.
Favorite place to get outside?
, Skaftafell National Park or the Fjords in the northwest portion of Iceland. More attainably, my favorite place to go outside Denver is anywhere that my snowboard can follow. The peaceful serenity offered by the mountains on a good powder day is incomparable.
Trail running shoes, a flask, and a large water bottle. Thanks to my mom, I drink more water in a day than most do in a week.
What’s your story?
Born + raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Grew up exploring the Metroparks with which my parents’ home is surrounded. I was further encouraged by stories of my father’s youth. He embraced a similar adventurous childhood that definitely transcended the generation. I received a BFA in Visual Communication Design from the University of Dayton in southern Ohio in 2011, and took a job as an in-house designer. After two and a half years, I felt that I lost the tenacious enthusiasm that got me into design in the first place, so I quit my job, took what turned out to be an eleven-month sabbatical. I traveled through southeast Asia for four and a half months, then road-tripped across the USA.
After this life-altering trip, I moved to Denver on a whim with no money, job or home lined up. I’ve been in Denver for about two and a half years working as a freelance designer, proactively pursuing a career that combines my two passions in life: design and travel/the outdoors.
What’s something dope you’ve done recently or something coming up you’re stoked about?
Last fall I backpacked through Iceland and Europe for 2 months; that was unreal. Coming up, I’m honored to be going to SXSW this year to lead two hand-lettering workshops on behalf of Goodtype and a live mural for Brandcast. I’m also doing a 10-day scuba diving trip in Mexico this April; my travel-homie Scott + I are diving off the Yucatan peninsula + exploring the Cenotes, one of the largest freshwater cave systems in the world. So stoked for this trip.
Who inspires you?
Most prevalently, my father. His humility is indescribable, his guidance and wise words are unmatched. He raised me in the best family I could have asked for with (I hope) a solid moral compass and true compassion for humanity. He + my mother have always supported me. Emotionally and financially. Last year, he picked up skiing JUST to be able to enjoy time on the mountains with my sister and me. What a freakin’ boss!
Artistically, Blaine Fontana is my design/art inspiration for sure. Now a personal friend, Blaine does a fantastic job infusing his passion for the outdoors into his work, which seems to be the beautiful purgatory where art and design meet.
Why handlettering, what is it? Why are you incorporating the outdoors?
Handlettering is the art of drawing letterforms. It’s quite different than calligraphy or type design, but that’s some long-winded nonsense for another audience. I started seriously taking a stab at lettering in January 2014 when I began my backpacking trip in Asia. Prior to my trip, I was working 14-18 hour days for months. It terrified me to think of not designing for the entirety of the trip. During this time I noticed a demand for lettering in the design industry and decided to give it a try.
I fell in love with lettering while I was traveling—which I too fell in love with—and I’ve worked on the two synchronistically ever since. It’s kinda like if you fall in love with a woman while eating donuts; it’s inevitable that you’ll have a weird connection to donuts for the rest of your life. Damn, I love donuts.
Why is what you’re doing with your handlettering + art important?
I strive to push others to intentionally pursue balance in their own lives. It’s so frequent that people present lofty dreams of travel or having some dream career, but they then go back to the same desk at a job that they’re unhappy with and make no effort to see the change they desire. I hope my lettering and the anecdotes of my work push people to make changes and proactively pursue a life they want, not just live the life that they’ve been given.
It’s important to me personally because it gives me some much needed time away from the computer. I oftentimes spend full days sitting at a desk, sending emails or pushing pixels around. To be able to juxtapose that by drawing words for an entire day is an AMAZING divergence from what traditional graphic designers are normally doing on a day-to-day basis. Lettering is important/useful for people, brands, and companies because it allows the artist to breathe a level of authenticity into the project that is unattainable by using pre-designed fonts, illustrations or other graphics.
When you’re not making cool art inspired by the outdoors, what are you up to?
By no coincidence, probably something outdoors. Running, hiking, snowboarding, skating or camping, climbing at my gym, or drinkin’ beers with the homies and pretending I can dance. I love the combination of PBR, tequila and dance floors. Very rarely will you find me just sitting around watching tv or reading. Although I wish I read more. I’m almost always either working or playing and I’m never half-assing either of ’em.
Tell us something that you think is important to remember in the bustle of life?
Family and friends. For many reasons, but primarily to keep you level headed. My family is everything to me. My brother, father + I have a tattoo that reads “family first.” I stand behind that. I love my family more than I love donuts and that’s saying a lot.
I also think it’s very important to have close friends around that you can talk through your issues, ideas and contemplations. Using close friends as personal therapists not only helps keep you grounded, it also helps you talk through your own monkey-mind and fosters a friendship on a deeper level.
Give us some advice on what you’ve learned about balance adventuring + everyday responsibilities?
Shit, this is tough. It’s what I strive to do on a day-to-day basis, but it is NOT easy. For me, it has been to really work when you’re “working” so that you can enjoy play when you’re playing. Stop this half-assed nonsense where you’re sitting at a desk in an office for eight hours a day but only actually doing four to five hours of work. You’re only wasting your own life.
Either be working 100% or not at all. Also, stop spending your money on nonsensical, material garbage. Do you really need a hand-crafted leather wallet with artisanal horse-stitching beads? No. Work hard so that you can afford the life experiences that you desire. Don’t worry about what “everyone else is doing.” – Buying homes, nice cars, slick ass button downs from Anthropology. Know what YOUR priorities are, and stand behind them. Just do you.
What’s your favorite art piece you’ve created so far?
I have two. Number one is the “Be Fearless” mural I created for a Denver-based ad agency. I had only done one mural previously. This piece was deeply satisfying to concept and then see develop into a large-scale reality. Number two is a drawing of this Mary Oliver quote I did for my sister. I love the overall balance of the piece and the message behind it really hits home for me: You’ve got one life; what are you going to do with it? I actually tend to send this or my “Live Curiously” map drawing to people to encourage them to treat each day as a day to do something awesome.
@shortstache. Garrett is one of those “internet friends,” not much unlike yourself, where if I introduced him to someone I would say “this is my good buddy Garrett.” When in reality the only conversations we’ve had has been words of encouragement to each other via social media with the occasional fist bump or woman-with-her-hand-to-the-sid
Coffee, tea or _____?
Thanks for sharing your story with us. Keep creating, pushing + inspiring.
Stranded on Land