Brian Eyler

Experiential Creative Director

LEGO Create Your Escape

Interview by:

Whitney Mokler 

April 15, 2020

W: Historically have you found yourself feeling the most creatively fulfilled by the work you do professionally or outside of that?

 

My answer to this is a bit of a yin-yang, and requires a tiny amount of backstory. I’ve always felt the need to do something creative. I’ve always loved to draw, take photos, experiment with audio and video, write short stories, build websites, mess with computers, and work with groups of friends to create things.

 

If I am being honest, I became a designer because I wanted to be an artist, but I was too afraid to just be an artist. It is incredibly hard to start out as an artist. Design for me is an opportunity to pay the bills, while also letting me invest in myself. 

 

In the beginning, I felt like if I had the resources to invest in myself, I could have more freedom to create something uniquely me and something I’d appreciate sharing out into the world. 

 

What I learned is it takes time, and lots of effort, and you don’t exactly wake up one day and say to yourself everything is awesome, “I did it!” Even though I do recommend trying to do that if you can, but let’s be real, sometimes things are hard and challenging. Being a designer is all about solving problems, and to be blunt, a lot of time can be spent solving corporate companies problems. Sometimes these companies don’t completely jive with your truth or culture,  and you might try your very best to make some compromises, especially in the beginning of your career - to just build your experience. Experience isn’t just the work though. It’s building a network of not only good designers, but good humans. The cool thing about finding the good humans is you probably won’t have to work very hard. These relationships seem to build over time if you open yourself up to having them.

Back to the answering: Have I found myself feeling the most creatively fulfilled by the work I do professionally or outside of that?

 

I’ve had days where I want to quit this career and start a cookie business. I still might totally do that at some point. There have been soul crushing moments and heartbreaking days, as well as some of the happiest and most fulfilling days I’ve ever had. It’s good, it’s bad, it’s a lot, but it’s something! I think regardless of what your something is - as long as it makes you mostly happy, maybe it’s not so bad. There are moments when I look at my corporate design work, and I do think, “How cool was it that I got to be a part of this?” Those moments of appreciation, to me, can make it all feel worth it. 

 

Like many designers, I am most creatively fulfilled by the work I do on my own accord. Some of that work could be called professional, but it’s kind of whatever to me. For instance, am I a professional designer, or photographer? Kind of, yeah, but when I think of it that way I don’t get as excited about it. Being a professional was never my goal. 

 

What excites me is just doing expressive things and seeing how people might be affected or impacted by what I create. That is kind of why I became more focused in Experiential Design. Experiential Design involves working with collaborators to dream up interactive journeys people can connect with in some way. Sometimes I do get to do this professionally, and I am appreciative of that. I didn’t graduate thinking I was going to be an Experiential Designer. That sort of simply happened over time, and I directed and adapted myself into that based on my interests.

W: What types of design or art do you partake in to fuel your need for creative outlet?

 

B: The most important thing for me is to always seek balance and stay inspired and motivated. It’s an ongoing process. Things I personally love are doing research on pinterest and pinning up photos. They aren’t photos, they are baby ideas, and sometimes they come together to form more ideas. So to sum it up, I really really like making mood boards.  I do it for fun and I think I will take that developed skill with me in whatever I do in life. 

 

I said a few moments back how I am trying to seek balance. I do that through yoga, gardening, listening and curating music playlists, going for a bike ride or a hike. Fortunately right now, I have some time to hit the reset button and get back to basics. The basics being finding more of a balance of doing the things I love to do - for my self growth, professional, and personally. I don’t think enough people understand how important this balance comes into play in our career. Also, if we are imbalanced, how can we be expected to perform at 100% creativity levels? We can’t, it just doesn’t work that way. Breaks and creative outlets are not only important, but fundamentally necessary!

"The basics being finding more of a balance of doing the things I love to do - for my self growth, professional, and personally. "

W: How do you find your creative drive impacted by times of high stress? Including right now as we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?

B: I have personally had challenges and high stress in my life and career, (hello panic attacks + anxiety!) In recent years, I have got this mostly under control with a combination of medication, therapy, physical activities, and meditation. I learned I was putting in way too much effort in the beginning of my career. A fresh perspective and emotional well-being needed to be a higher priority on my list of needs. So... I’m getting there!

 

My career journey has recently changed as a result of COVID-19. I had been working as a Senior 3D Designer/Art Director at an agency here in Portland since July 2019. Since COVID hit, me like many others have now found themselves laid off or furloughed. (The term ‘many others’ is also kind of an understatement - I would say 90 percent of my friends are now filing for unemployment or laid off at this current moment.

 

So, wow. This can be a terrifying right? But it can also be a challenge and luckily as designers and we are used to challenges. We are talented problem solvers and who knows what we can come up with given enough time, right?

 

Since the quarantine and since being laid off a few weeks ago, I do have uncertainty in the future, but there’s also a lot of other feelings going on. In the past when I was laid off, I took it personally, my feelings were hurt and might have felt like the sky is falling a little bit. This time though, I was more prepared and I planned for the possibility.

 

I am balancing my time right now doing a little marketing and connecting every day, and also preparing simple meals, taking lots of breaks, and enjoying the outdoors. I am grateful to be healthy right now and feeling the most creatively inspired I’ve felt in years. I do think a little bit of this is because when I see the world in crisis my instinct is to try to be the very best version of myself I can be and try to help in any way I can, even if it’s in my own weird creative way.

W: What are 3 tips you have for finding creative inspiration/outlet when in isolation or a high stress environment?

    Remember being a kid? Wasn't that fun? Do things that the kid version of yourself would be happy doing. Listen to that little voice sometimes and go for it.

 

    Get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself in whatever way you can - without putting too much pressure on yourself. Some days it’s ok just to do nothing if that’s what you feel like you need. The important part is to keep moving, stay active and healthy, and take some time to selfishly enjoy yourself.

 

    Your perspective is everything in difficult moments. There are many things we wish weren’t happening to ourselves and others. One way of trying to cope with this is instead of focusing on those negative things, think instead about the things that are going well, and maybe the opportunities you might have now that you didn’t have before. What are some things that you do have control of that you could work or experiment with? I strongly believe the power of positive thinking can manifest positive things to happen.

"I strongly believe the power of positive thinking can manifest positive things to happen. "

W: If you could create any project right now with unlimited time, energy, and resources, what would it be?

 

B: With unlimited time, energy, and resources I would fund a team of brilliant scientists to discover breakthrough technology that would allow us to have an unlimited source of renewable energy, used for good only, that can be distributed throughout the world. I would fight for social inequality and social change, and maybe have a little coffee shop and bake cookies.

Maybe I’d keep on making, maybe be featured in photo books or magazines with my creative content. I’d actually do a lot of the things I am currently doing or want to do. Time is valuable and now I have it and I am very grateful and creatively energized..

 

I recently created www.somethinggood.space as an outlet for me to showcase content and storytelling.  It makes me happy to just create and have the freedom to create.

 

Eventually, I will have to figure out my next steps and I make progress toward figuring that out, but I realize I can’t figure it all out instantly. So many of my buddies are in the same boat as I am and we are here for each other. It will just take some time, effort, rest, and a healthy dose of love, appreciation, and gratitude for all the things we have. Also some creativity, coffee, and cookies might help.

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