SNDLOU: Introducing Andrew Nilsen

Andrew Nilsen
Andrew Nilsen

Courtney Kan: What is your current position?

Andrew Nilsen: Currently, I am working for myself as a freelance illustrator, designer, and art director and working towards an MFA in Illustration through the University of Hartford (grad. July 2014).

CK: Can you share a little background on your career?

AN: I’ve worked in quite a wide range of positions within the design field before landing in publication/editorial. I worked in France for Salomon Sports (2003) doing graphic for skis, helmets, poles, and bindings.  I’ve done environmental graphics and exhibits while in Salt Lake City (2004), working for Infinite Scale Design Group, who designed all the visuals for the 2002 Winter Olympics. I’ve worked in New York (2004) for a boutique firm doing packaging and brand licensing. San Diego (2005-2006) was branding and web design work along with teaching design at San Diego State University. Sacramento is how I fell into the world of editorial, taking a part-time editorial designer job at the Sacramento News & Review and Reno News & Review (based in Sacramento). They promoted me to art director and I was there for about three years (2006-2009) while teaching digital illustration at Sacramento City College. Before landing at SF Weekly, I had a brief stint at an event marketing firm doing everything from trade show booth graphics, websites, motion graphics, way finding, audio and video editing … you name it. I jumped back into the publication world when I took at the AD position at SF Weekly. I was there from January 2010 to January 2013.

CK: What topic will you be speaking on at SNDLOU?

AN: I will be speaking about how I art direct (as I’ve heard I’m not normal, apparently), particularly what I did to be creatively efficient and efficiently creative – trying to uphold high standards when you don’t have much support, working with editors, illustrators and whatnot. And a little bit about when all that fails.

CK: Why are you excited about speaking at SNDLOU?

AN: I am excited because I love sharing/exchanging information about why and how people work the way they do. I am an open-source kind of person and events like this are a great opportunity to learn more about the why & how other people are doing what they do. I wish I had more time to go to the other presentations!

CK: What inspires you?

AN: What inspires me? Are you crazy!? Where do I start? … I think inspiration can be found in anything, but my main things would be music, nature, technology, conceptual illustration, old motorcycles, geometry, and circus.

CK: What is one piece of advice you have for SNDLOU attendees?

AN: Here’s some advice: don’t ask me for advice! I think my best advice would be to take more risks in life, in all aspects of it, not just in design. And learn to be ok with failure. It’s part of the process so, the more you fail, the faster you learn.

CK: What are you personally looking forward to at SNDLOU?

AN: I’m looking forward to getting face time with talented people I’ve only known through the digital world, drinking some good bourbon, and being in the Midwest (ok, South?) during the fall (I’m from Akron, Ohio and went to school in Cincinnati). I’m also looking forward to slurring my speech to properly pronounce Louisville.

To register for SND Louisville, click here.

About Courtney Kan

is a designer at The Washington Post and the editor of

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