Visual Arts

Graphic designer Phil Normand finds success in an evolving industry

You can find art all over town -- not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.

"The thing is, I don't usually hang my work in coffee shops," says graphic designer Phil Normand. He doesn't like being labeled, and it's no wonder. Normand, who started out doing puppet theater in 1970s, has done it all; he's been a cartoonist, artist, painter and designer. And when it comes to graphic design, he's seen it all, too. From drawing ink cartoons for Hanna-Barbera Studios to launching a web design firm, Normand's key to success has always been to evolve with the cathartic ease of a cuttlefish.

See also: Optic Allusions from Colorado native Linda Gleitz

"I could see where everything was going, so I tried to keep up with the technology," Normand says, explaining his "checkered art career."

After a decade as a puppeteer, the jack-of-all-trades slowly transitioned into graphic design, where he did commercial work. Before long, Normand was teaching at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. "That was when Phil Steele still owned it, and they were over on Ogden," Normand recalls. He taught production, "which is obsolete now," he says, and offered archaic classes in layout and lettering for sign painters.

Another decade passed, and Normand found himself at the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News doing promotion before transitioning into the advertising department and eventually taking over as art director. A few years later, around 2002, Normand was freelancing again, and today he owns his own graphic and web design business, Normand Design.

Normand says he's seen "continual change" in the graphic design industry over his career. "For five hundred years, printing didn't change much," he says. "But since the '80s, the whole biz has changed radically." To keep up, Normand's trained himself to use new software as it became available. "I came up using a drawing board, a knife and ruby-lith," he remembers. (The latter was an adhesive film used as overlay for color print.) Continue reading for more on Phil Normand and his artistic endeavors.