WHO: Trevor Van Meter a.k.a. HeyTVM
WHAT: Artist, Cartoonist, Animator
WHERE: Wilmington, NC and @HeyTVM
WHY: To honor that spark!
BIO: Trevor Van Meter is an award-winning artist, illustrator, and animator. TVM’s background includes illustration, animation, toy design, and game design. Trevor enjoys creating art, apparel, and animated gifs & shorts that he publishes on social channels under @HeyTVM. Trevor lives with his wife, daughter, and son in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Why a career in design?
Let's just say, I was not awesome at school. Ultimately, I think this comes down to interest level and effort. I was always interested in drawing and creating. If I wasn’t swimming, skating, or playing NES, I was drawing. Creating for a living always seemed like the natural progression of things. It is just who I AM.
What does good design mean to you?
I’m personally at my best when I honor my spark, and when I get in touch with that 8 year-old kid who created strictly for the love of creating. I’ve worked very hard to develop a style that rides the line between graphic and illustration. This is the space I live to play in. A lot of work I see is so “buttoned up.” I personally like to see designs that celebrate imperfections while keeping an eye on a professional presentation.
Who are your influences?
I try not to give into nostalgia too much, but the truth is 8-bit video games, 80s toys, skate art, and memes influence me...a LOT. I have always been interested in a loose line, and a strong sense of contrast and linear composition. My influences range from Shel Silverstein to Mike Mignola, the hidden tricks of Claude Monet to the stark, vibrant colors and lines of Jim Phillips. There is no one genre of influence for me. I pull influence from anything that moves me, but mainly, I get in touch with the 8 year-old TVM.
How do you want to affect the world of design?
I’m not really thinking about the design world. I’ve learned my energy is best spent on being of service to my audience. When I was fresh out of school, all I cared about was the illustration and design world. I just had to win awards and get recognition because then I could get more work. After years of focusing on the wrong things, I learned that in order to have the most impact on my life, I had to better understand what it was I actually wanted.
I’m not interested in the design world, art world, or any of that. I just want to create, and hopefully make a connection with the people who like what I’m doing. All the extra is just commentary. I want to make great work, but I’ve learned it has to be on my own terms.
What do you do with design to help change the world?
I am a purveyor of positive vibes. First, you have to “keep an eye on your paradise” because this world is constantly knocking your path. You can rock HeyTVM while you pursue that paradise, whatever it may be.
Secondly, you have to “remain chill until”. You are your response to the things that happen to you in this world. Improve your response, and you will improve your life.
Finally, we were all "made to fade". For dust you are, and to dust you shall return. Stop walking around like you have 1000 years to live. There IS an ultimate deadline here, so you might as well GO FOR IT! Whatever “IT” is.
What advice do you give to future Creatives?
I want creatives to know that a creative life is totally possible. I’ve watched so many creatives get washed out before they even really try. Many of the creatives I’ve met decided not to show up, as if they are waiting for permission or someone to come to their rescue. I’ve never been in a situation where it was a good idea to hand the reins over to someone else and say “I’ll just focus on the creative stuff.” I’ve had to learn this the hard way...many times.
You hold your answers and those answers are only found in motion.
You can’t steer a boat that’s holding still. True creative growth comes from pain, suffering, and failure, and it is not just creative growth. True strength and beauty comes from the same place. I know there are huge rewards for those out there who are truly creative. Creatives don’t have to constantly be taken advantage of by the “do nothings” with a budget. I would like my brand to be an example to creatives who are unsure of themselves. Proof that if you get to work and show up with a WILL to succeed that you can live a life of your own design.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind 'Be Positive'?
I don’t point at people and say “Be Positive.” That is followed by an eye roll so hard you can hear it. However, I do encourage people to seek the positive. Closed minds can’t see the way closed hands can’t catch. An open hand can reach, grab, climb, and hold. Your brain works in the same way. If you open your mind to seeking the positive, you attract more opportunities and people who would otherwise be turned off by a negative state of mind.
I’m also more responsive to that quiet inner voice when my mind is in a positive state. You can’t be both positive and negative at the same time, in the same way you can’t be moving in two directions at once. To not control your thinking means you are being pulled to the negative. That’s the default. It’s like gravity. To move towards the positive takes constant reminders, mindfulness, thrust, and of course hard work.
Follow Trevor on Instagram: @HeyTVM