Aaron Joel Underwood


Everyday that I am creating, I am still learning. 

Name, Age, Location, Professional Title, Employer

My name is Aaron Joel Underwood. I am a freelance illustrator and graphic designer currently living in Portland, Oregon.

What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?

As I transitioned into being self employed, I have noticed that it is easy to always be clocked on or thinking about work. In order to fully break away, I have to remove myself from my normal day to day activities. I have found that being out in nature, camping, hiking, biking, is a good break from the day to day. This is where I find most of my creative energy and inspiration. Growing up and living in the Pacific Northwest there is an abundance of natural beauty and I find my work being heavily inspired by my physical surroundings. 


Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?

Yes, its definitely hard finding a balance between these two arenas. There are times that all of my energy gets poured into my client work, leaving little time and energy for creative self expression. On the other hand there are times that client work is sparse, leaving me an excess of time to work on personal projects. I am hoping for a day that the balance of personal work and client work allow the bills to be paid and my heart and soul to be creatively satisfied. 

What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?

I am definitely a morning person, so this is where I feel most productive. During this time I am able to complete many administrative tasks that come with running a business and being a designer. But there is something about the evening that is special; this is where I feel I have more freedom and flexibility to try new things and express myself creatively.


What are your creative goals for the future? 

Being self employed and freelance is a relatively new experience. I want to reach and maintain a level of success and excellence moving forward. My ultimate goal would be able to continue doing what I love, which is creating, for a living. Another goal is to start putting out more personal work that I am proud of and excited about sharing.

Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?

I am really excited about a project my wife and I are currently working on called Uplands Wild. Uplands Wild is a collection of found and created goods inspired by the Wild Wild West. We are taking our love for design, the home and the Southwest and creating a product line of original and vintage goods. We are currently in the process of creating the assets that will go into this product line, and are aiming for a fall launch. We are really excited about sharing more from this project very soon!


What scares you?

I am scared of not being able to successfully do what I love which is creating. I hate the idea of pouring my heart, soul and energy into a project/work and it failing. Also…I am afraid of moths.

What does success mean to you?

Success means living a well balanced life, being able to do what I love and be able to provide for the ones I love. It means being able to be driven and find moments for rest. It means to be able to pour my heart and soul into work that I love, but also have enough heart and soul to love those around me.


Why do you create?

Creating is something I believe I was made to do. I have been creatively driven since I was a kid. I remember as a child creating imaginary companies and products and pretending to be a successful artist. Expressing myself creatively is something I have always had a desire to do. This creative drive has led me to be a self taught student of art and design, teaching myself all that I can about this medium. I feel I am still that child dreaming and pretending of what it means to be a successful artist. Everyday that I am creating, I am still learning. 

Anything else you want to add?

I am so thankful I have the opportunity to be creatively involved in many peoples lives. I am especially thankful for the support from my friends, and family.


To see more of Aaron's beautiful work, head over to www.aaronjoelunderwood.com or follow along @aaronjoelunderwood.