We had the good fortune of connecting with David Ritt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David, what role has risk played in your life or career?
To me, taking risks is the only way to grow. Getting out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself. This can look a million different ways. For some people, posting a photo on Instagram is a risk. For others, taking a risk means doing something that puts their life in danger. It all depends on the person and how you calculate your comfort level. In my career, I’ve developed a habit of accepting projects that I have no idea how to complete. I learn best in a hands-on, chaotic environment. So what better ways to develop skill sets than these high-pressure situations? For example, I accepted a project a few years ago that involved animation. I had never animated anything before, but I took on the project and put myself in a situation where I had no choice but learn and grow. This has been a pattern in my life for a few years now. Taking on projects that are way over my head, and spending hours on YouTube learning new things. I’ve built a career out of this. I don’t have a degree in graphic design, but I’ve developed enough of a skillset over the years to be able to do it professionally. The key is knowing you’ll never know enough. Always be learning and practicing and challenging yourself to be better. Take on the projects that scare you, you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
During one of my summer marketing internships in college, I told my manager I knew graphic design. To say that was an understatement, is an understatement. I had a free version of a design software that I spent a few hours here and there clicking around and making rudimentary things with. But I really had no idea what I was doing. Once I had real world design projects that came from this internship, I had the opportunity to really learn. I spent that night, and many nights after teaching myself the fundamentals of design, the basics of the software, and just scrolling through Dribbble to find inspiration. I certainly wasn’t very good in the beginning, but I got better with every project. Over time, design became the bulk of my role at the company I interned with and was offered a full-time job doing a mix of digital marketing and graphic design. I had never thought about making art until a friend of mine, Lauryn, asked me to design an album cover for her boyfriend, who is also my best friend, Brennen. I had never tried to make anything like this before but was obviously up for the challenge. I presented two options. The one they didn’t choose was actually my favorite. So I decided to sell it as a print. It sold pretty well, so I made it in a few more color ways. Those also sold pretty well, so I tried to make a series of them. This was my first attempt at an art series, but people seemed to like them. Soon after, I applied for an art show at a local brewery that would let me hang my art in their building for a month and I also got to design a few cans for them. I got accepted. But there was a small issue. At this point I really only had 3-4 prints in my art portfolio. I had about 3 months to come up with enough art to fill a wall, about 14 pieces. So I got to work! Since then, I’ve been commissioned to do some album covers, logos, merch, and gig posters for bands and musicians. A dream come true. My end goal is to be able to continue working with musicians to bring their art to life visually.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ah man. There’s still so much in this city I haven’t been able to explore. Suggestions are always welcome! I always love a late night visit to Forest Room 5. Something about drinking a beer in a teepee gets people excited. Definitely love jumping around the different spots in RiNo, specifically Ratio and OMF. Ironton Distillery has amazing drinks and a fun patio. But I’m also a sucker for a good dive bar. Pre-COVID, I’d always check the show schedules for local venues to see who’s playing. Love going to Larimer Lounge, The Ogden, The Bluebird and the other smaller venues in town. I’m also a huge fan of Number 38 which just opened in RiNo this year. Really anxious to get back to these places and see live music. Most of my family and friends visit from the East Coast below sea level, so the altitude adjustment is extra tough on them. We typically take the lowlanders on a hike at St. Mary’s Glacier because in my mind, it’s the best “bang for your buck” in terms of the amount of work it takes to get to some amazing scenery. It also happens to be the place Elle and I got married last year due to our primary plans being cancelled due to COVID.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My wife, Elle, is my Creative Director. She’s always the first person to see anything I create, and she’ll let me know if it’s working or not. I appreciate that honesty so much. To have someone in your corner that isn’t going to bullshit you or blow smoke is invaluable. Having a supportive partner in general can make or break a creative career for someone. That goes for entrepreneurship too. There are always going to be some late nights, bad moods, and low points. But hopefully it all becomes worth it in the end. So thanks Elle! You’re a legend. I also have a rad circle of creative friends. We pass projects off to each other when one of us is too swamped or someone else would just be a better fit. Sending work off to my friends is probably the most fulfilling part of being in a creative career.
Ian St. Pierre for all photos.