Hailing inspiration from cowboys, ancient architectures, patterns and textiles.

Circling the themes of modern western and the 18th century art movement, Vienna Secession, each of Aage Vetter’s designs carry a sense of humble sophistication. Of course this gives off the illusion that his work is effortless, but that is far from the truth. Through a series of trials and errors, analog and digital edits, Aage’s illustrations carefully come together commonly with rich, earthy tones or deep blues.

His work produces a subtle and creative approach for a softer angle in marketing jobs. Before settling into DDB, an advertising agency in Chicago, Aage was given the opportunity to intern in New York at the acclaimed advertising companies Pentagram, Grey Group and Sid Lee as well as Fashion House Chanel. “[He] will say it was by far the most quiet workplace [he’s] ever been in.”.

Although full-time at DDB, Aage has been receiving more and more freelance jobs and as long as he is continuously improving and changing his artwork, Aage says “I think i’ll be really content.”.

How’s life?

Life’s been great.

What are you currently up to?

I’m currently working full-time as a designer at DDB in Chicago, trying my best to keep practicing illustration on the side. Recently I’ve had a lot more freelance illustration work coming in, which has been fantastic.

Is freelancing the end goal?

Freelance just very recently started consistently coming in for me, so I don’t want to criticize that in any way, but I just really enjoy practicing and feeling myself get better. I would love to find more success, maybe have a show, even pursue freelance full-time if I can eventually, but whether that happens or not won’t really drive my decision making.

You interned for Fashion house Chanel, how was that?

It was really amazing, I still feel so lucky to have had that opportunity. I was officially the “Print Intern” but I ended up working on projects in a ton of different mediums. I did some instagram stories, animations, a book, and a few print ads. Great location, wonderful people, I could go on for a while.

Does Chicago have it’s own style?

By the end of the month I will have been here for a full year, it’s went really fast. From what I’ve seen though Chicago has a lot of style, in every sense. I’ve really loved keeping up with John Zabawa and Cody Hudson’s work since even before I started school, I think they’re defining a really interesting portion of the city’s style.

Before Chicago, where were you?

I was born and grew up in Tampa, FL until just before high school. Then I lived in New Jersey, graduated from college in Baltimore last year.

How did you develop your personal style?

It’s funny to think that I’m starting to develop a sort of style, it wasn’t really intentional. I’d say it comes from trying to emulate different artists and media styles that I look up to, so a lot of times it feels more like I’m just copying other artists than anything. I still will spend time trying to see how closely I can re-create works that I really enjoy, just to practice. I learn a massive amount that way. I’m definitely still learning and developing a lot, and I have a long way to go in terms of skill level, but I can feel myself improving by the day. 

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I could talk about inspiration for days. Tons of music, lots of other contemporary artists, designers, photographers, and a huge number of historical works. For the last few years I’ve definitely looked most at the Vienna Secession as a whole movement. It covered design, illustration, textiles, furniture, typography, architecture, everything. My interest in that area started with Egon Schiele, back in middle school I think. I really believe, compositionally at least, that he was just as much of a designer as he was a painter, especially if you compare his work to contemporaries of the time. More recently, I’ve been digging deeper into Koloman Moser, Peter Behrens, and a few others. A lot of the printed work follows a really strict and restricted colour palette, typically 2-3 colours max. That’s one of the primary rules I put on myself when making my own work, It really forces me to be smarter with how I use colour and define forms.  

You tend to work with earthy reds and browns or a darkish blue, what is the allure with these colours?

I don’t know if I can explain exactly why, but I’ve always been really attracted to warm and earthy colours, even warm, dark blues. They give off the feelings and vibes I’m trying to achieve, they’re almost comforting. Easy on the eyes, not too abrasive.

Is there something you’d like to create that is outside of your style?

I’ve always wished I was better with oil painting, as generic of an answer as that is. I love the warmth and effect that comes with it. I took painting classes in school, but I always changed my mind too frequently and overworked the canvases. Working digitally is much more forgiving towards my process, so I think it would be pretty hard to go back.

If you’re work is digital, what is the process of getting that faded, watercolour style you have?

My work is primarily digital. I build it out with the intention that it may be printed at some point, but add textures as the last step to avoid printing everything I make. I recently got myself some of the True Grit Texture Supply kits from Andrew Fairclough, another great inspiration, which have been a huge help. I take pictures of textures I find around and use those too. I’ve found more often than not that getting a more natural/printed look just takes a ton of layers and textures subtly working together.

What’s your favourite medium to work with?

I do still make some work using charcoal, which I love, but I will almost always go back in and retouch digitally anyways. For the vast majority, I’ll start with a pencil sketch and then move into digital to push things around until they look how I want. 


Cover image and inset by Aage Vetter

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