David Harwell

graphic designer
Location: Los Angeles, California

All images are copyrighted and strictly for educational and viewing purposes.



How did you become a designer/artist?

I remember buying my first camera when I was thirteen with money saved from mowing the neighborhood’s lawns. A year later, I built my first enlarger from a recycled slide projector. I studied professional photography for two years before embarking on a six month long trip to Australia with the intention of becoming the next Frank Capa, which never materialized. Upon my return, I began an internship at Publicis Conseil, France’s largest advertising agency. There, I realized it would be more fun and lucrative to manipulate reality rather than simply documenting it. I then enrolled at the now defunct European campus of Art Center College of Design, in Switzerland. I moved to Los Angeles in 1991 after graduating and have been designing and animating graphics on the West Coast ever since.

Where are you from originally?

I was born and grew up in French speaking Switzerland by Lake Geneva. Switzerland is better known for its precision and spotless sidewalks rather than its artistic prowess. Three national languages (French, German and Italian) have nevertheless made the Swiss the masters of cross-cultural communication. They may not be the most creative conceptually, but they are the most efficient at getting the message across. I moved to Los Angeles in 1991. I have also worked and lived in Seattle and San Francisco.

What are you doing now?

Trying to cross the bridge from practitioner to entrepreneur. A doer at heart, I am obsessed with getting every detail just right, which can be time consuming. Learning to let go and look ahead. Reinventing one’s self doesn’t only affect the person changing. One of the challenges when starting a new company is to not alienate existing clients, reassuring them neither the quality nor the care they have come to expect will be affected.

What are your plans for the future?

Although I love the opportunities available in the US, I do long for the endless kitchen table conversations I used to have with my really opinionated European friends. Every thing seems so goal-oriented, US side, not enough process. Would love to be so successful as to be able to do most of my work on a laptop from wherever I choose to lay my hat. Mexico does indeed seem like the best of both worlds, the proximity, desire and need of the American know-how combined with the traditions and joy for life of the Old World.

What American artist inspires you most?

Andy Warhol, Nature photographers David Liitschwager and Susan Middleton, Dennis Hopper’s photography, William Klein (Photographer.)

What unlocks your creativity?

Mountain biking the hills of Southern California. My best ideas always come on an incline. Can’t wait to get back and put them to test, which makes me pedal faster. Good for the mind and the cardio.