Deon Mixon: Designing With a Purpose

Aug 20, 2019 | Detroit Designers

Deon Mixon is an multi-talented creative who enjoys solving problems through his work. He recently designed a new flag for the City of Detroit and has been gathering support to replace the current flag with his artwork. This initiative is just one project that the graphic designer, author, and poet is launching to solve a problem in the real world and design with purpose.

An Early Start

Mixon’s creative journey began in his youth when he developed an interest for sketching. With the desire to better his skill, he practiced drawing the two things he knew well. “My dad worked at Ford so I would draw cars,” he said. “Once I got into anime I would draw different characters from popular cartoon series such as “Yu-Gi-Oh!” and “Dragon Ball Z”. This gave me a chance to practice and get better at doing freehand drawings from there.”

A sketched piece of art. (Photo: Unknown)

on designing with a purpose

As a Graphic Designer, Mixon believes in art that speaks for itself, art that speaks to others, and art that knows how to listen. “My goal as a designer is to solve a problem and communicate visually,” he said. “Every work of art communicates in some way to yield satisfaction from its audience. Whatever you create, it must make a connection to those who are witnessing it; otherwise, why does it exist? Everything has a purpose.” 

Mixon speaking at AIGA Detroit’s [AMP]lify Series. (Photo: The Creative Armory)

FAVORITE ARTISTS and SELF-MADE Work

When asked about his favorite artist and piece of self-made work, Mixon stated that he has more than one. “My favorite artist is God because He is the creator of everything. My favorite fine artist is Marcel Duchamp of the Dada movement. His work made us think about what art really is. If I’m trying to get people to think I reference him because I feel like I’m on his same wavelength.”

“My favorite piece of work would have to be the new flag I designed for Detroit. It’s for a real cause and something I believe in personally. I created it for my senior thesis at Western Michigan University. My board game, which will launch at a later date, is also a favorite piece because it teaches people about design. The flag makes me proud as a Detroiter, and the board game makes me proud as a designer.”

‘Detroit Rise Flag’ (Photo: Deon Mixon)

Design Eye Board Game (Photo: Deon Mixon)

On handling client projects

There is no textbook that teaches you how to be the perfect designer, especially when taking on projects for different clients. Mixon broke down his approach to tackling client work and how he trusts his instincts in the creation process. “I think about the project on a larger scale- where its going to live, and how it fits the client’s culture and aesthetic. I listen to what the client wants and ask a lot of questions. I try to get as much intel as possible” he said.

Note taking supplies. (Photo: Tim Gouw)

“When designing, I just go at it. I sketch to come up with ideas other than my original thoughts. I create and edit at the same time until I get to the finished piece. I have strong intuitions about design and I normally follow them. When I need reference, I study work from other designers and studios to see what their approaches are. The faster I can do my creative process the happier my clients are, but I have to do it right.”

Advice for Young Artists

During our discussion, Mixon offered advice for up and coming artists. “Be passionate talking about your work and confident in your ability. That attitude will be influential to other creatives. If you’re not excited about your own work, people may think you don’t care and they won’t want to hire you. “Lastly, don’t be afraid to create something that may not work. Trial and error is OK,” he said.  

(Photo: Deon Mixon)

Current Projects and Future Plans

At present, Mixon is running a petition to replace the current flag of Detroit with his new design. To learn more about the Detroit Rise Flag, visit the website here. Future projects for Mixon include writing the 4th installment to his book series, the Lethal Creed Saga, and launching his ‘Design Eye’ board game.

‘Detroit Rise Flag’ project presentation (Photo: The Creative Armory)

Lethal Creed Saga Book Series (Photo: Deon Mixon)

“The game will teach players about the six most essential disciplines of the design industry which are branding, print, packaging, web, experience, and motion design. The goal is to get youth interested and educated in design so they hopefully find a career in it,” he said. “I take pride in my work because my projects not only affect the real world, they also solve a problem.”

(Photo: Deon Mixon)

(Photo: Deon Mixon)

What is your favorite work of art by Deon Mixon? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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