us a bit about your background -- what led you into art?
I’m a Nashville based designer/illustrator that has been in the design
industry professionally for 14 years now. I have mostly been working
with in-house design groups on website design and UX strategies.
Just in the past 5-6 years I started focusing on the illustrative side
of things, freelancing under the studio name Straw Castle. I believe the
strength and stability of having a full time in-house position freed me
up to be able to pursue that work, which in the beginning was pretty
When I was growing up, I always wanted to be an artist, I think it was
just important to find a practical application of the things I was
interested in. As I grew older I found commercial and web design was the
best way for me to make a living and give me the freedom over the course
of time to purse my passion for illustration.
us a bit about your patch design and the story behind it.
Recently I’ve been getting more and more into the old tribal Americana
aesthetic. I'm looking to create a style that’s reminiscent of
post-Civil War America. I've always been fascinated by that part of
I love all the old western movies and the themes of soldiers coming home
from war and setting out for the west to make a better life for
themselves. I have this whole narrative in my head; this design is a
part of supporting that story.
inspires your designs?
I’m inspired by everything in life. I live on the outside of
Nashville, TN. There are a lot of rural areas around here where
time has seemed to forgotten. Lots of farmers harvesting their
tobacco crops the old fashioned way.
As the sun is setting red, orange and yellow, beautiful
landscapes of weather worn tobacco barns smoking their seasonal
yield, with their smoke trailing off into the distance. Words
can’t even do this sight justice.
My inspirations come from scenes like these as well as all of
southern Americana’s ghosts.
your studio/workspace like?
I work out of my house. Since I primarily work on my illustration work
in the evenings and weekends and I’m gone all day, I felt like it was
important to set up shop at home with the kids. I want them to feel like
they are important and a part of the process. My little girls will
frequently sit down next to me and draw the anatomical skull cast that I
have sitting on my desk for reference. It’s pretty funny actually.
With that being said, I needed a creative atmosphere so I got to work on
building out a “Hemingway-esque” type study. I have two sturdy bookcases
stretching floor to ceiling, filled with the carved blocks from my block
printing process. The shelves are also lined with books from antiquity
and old 20th century resource materials. Centered between these
bookcases is an enormous taxidermied wild black boar.
I have additional taxidermied pieces as well as skulls from beasts that
have passed on through time. You will also see thick golden embellished
picture frames stretching across the walls displaying pen and ink
artwork much like you would see lining an old staircase in a haunted
your favorite handmade craft you’ve ever made?
My favorite handmade craft would not be a single item, it would
be the whole block printing process in general. Block printing
is definitely taken on more of a focus here as of late. What
drew me to the block printing process was the ability to create
reproducible artwork in a traditional primitive method. Each
print is a unique piece of art on its own.
Finally, if you were a Crayola color, what color would
If you are asking me what Crayola color I would be… it would be
Black. If you were to ask me what color of paper stock, I would
say Black Liquorice. Why? Because it sounds so much cooler.
You can see more of Derrick’s work on his website
or check out his
Etsy store for goodies you can buy, including an awesome
tee of this patch design.