Jared Tuttle moves effortlessly among four interrelated fields: brand identities, illustration, typography, and graphic design. His favorite work is illustration — “but when illustration can be used for a logo or a brand asset, I have a special kind of passion for it,” he says.
His style is defined by linework and a restrained color palette that evokes a regal, classical feeling mixed with magic realism. “It’s badass yet beautiful, meticulous yet surreal, organic yet graphic. It has a darker side,” he says.
The wide range of inspiration that has influenced Tuttle’s style includes tattoo art, Renaissance paintings and sculptures, and contemporary design. A few of his favorite artists include James Jean, tattoo artist Alexander Grim, and designer Brian Steely.
Nature is another important influence. “Animals and nature are classic subject matter because they’re timeless and unattached to material objects or man-made constructs,” he says. “I like the way it allows for artwork to be without context and open to interpretation.”
The Minneapolis-based artist’s style is easily identifiable. “Primarily, I believe that’s due to my background in traditional media, design, and tattoos,” Tuttle explains.
A BFA and a tattoo apprenticeship.
Tuttle knew early on that he wanted to be an artist, and in high school he was drawn to tattoo art. But instead of going straight into that field, he earned a BFA in Illustration at MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art and Design), where he discovered illustration and design.
“I ultimately ended up in a tattoo apprenticeship after college, but in the meantime I consistently took on freelance design and illustration work,” he explains. “Before long, I’d laid the groundwork for my own business and found myself drifting from tattooing toward a newfound passion and skill for my independent illustration and design practice.”
Focusing on the big picture.
No matter the project, Tuttle always begins with thumbnail sketches to work out ideas and a composition.
“If I start large, I get too into the details and miss the bigger issues,” he says. “Generally, I’ll then put the thumbnail sketch into Procreate at about 15 percent opacity, and on a separate layer I’ll redraw the sketch entirely, while looking for ways to add clarity and contrast.”
“Because of how much refining I do, I like to work with tracing paper and vellum a lot, too,” he says.
Tuttle’s Gold Fever project surfaced out of his need to create something he felt personally connected to.
“Since I’m committed to full-time client-based work, I find it important to reconnect with personal expression so I don’t lose sight of why I create artwork to begin with,” he says.
Flora and fauna have been constants in his work, but here, he wanted to push that subject matter further — into an otherworldly realm: “Everything in nature is connected, but I think society has lost touch with this, so I wanted the series to show the unity and connection all living things have, while exploring a new personal style,” he says.
He introduced gold to give the work a high-end and timeless feel.
Unbounded, the tiger, is one of his favorites: “Because it was the first piece I created in the series — and where I realized I was onto something,” he says.
Dani and Chloe, the founders of T.W.O. Beauty, approached Tuttle to create a brand identity for their naturally derived beauty product line.
“Dani and Chloe wanted something strong and luxurious but not overly feminine — and with a bit of an edge to it,” Tuttle says. “I paired the mark with a modern, stencil-style typeface that felt like a good fit for the beauty industry and also embodied the vibe my clients were going for.”
Developing a brand.
For branding projects, Tuttle likes to start with a questionnaire to understand the goals of the brand.
“Once I have an understanding of what they’re trying to achieve in terms of their business and identity, I move on to research and strategy by developing a mood board with inspirational imagery,” he says.
After showing the mood board to the client and selecting favorites with them, he moves into the design phase.
Tips from Jared Tuttle.
1. Instead of just producing work as quickly and efficiently as possible, strive for excellence in every opportunity.
2. Put the hard work in and actually give a shit. That goes a long way.
3. Start simple and work toward adding complexity and details.
4. Value negative space just as you do positive space.
5. Refine, refine, refine.
6. Take a break, then come back to the work and critique it. Often, you’ll see things to improve that were right there in front of you.
“I always start by drawing in my pocket-sized sketchbook, with pencil or pen,” he says. “I’ll select my top concepts and pull them into Photoshop to clean them up and make quick adjustments before I place the sketch in Illustrator to begin the vector artwork stage.”
Even up until this point, he works only in black and white.
“If it doesn't work in black and white, then adding color isn’t going to change that, and it’s just another variable that could sway the client’s reaction to an option,” he explains.
After they’ve narrowed things down to the best concept, he’ll introduce color options, refine the design if needed, and mock it up on a variety of applications.
Tuttle has been busy recently putting the final touches on a new website.
“Now that it’s finally launched, I’m going to make time to focus on my online store, which will include producing more prints, enamel pins, and maybe some apparel and other merch,” he says.
He’s also working slowly on building a design studio — expected to launch in the next year or so — that will focus on branding and commercial design services.