Brandon Duvall is the creative director of style magazine, VICE. The charismatic Canadian describes what he does as: “I do my best to make cool things.”
How did it all start for you?
I guess it was being interested in cool things. It comes from a naive curiosity. I come from a small town in Canada, I wouldn’t even describe it as the suburbs of Toronto, its a suburban town where Toronto is the nearest city. I think coming from there and going to different cities I had a naive take on things. If you grow up in London or New York, nothing is as interesting, as you have grown up with lots of cool stuff. So I have come here with a curiosity for people, cultures and cool stuff. Interesting stuff.
Did your parents do anything similar to you?
I can think how they would be similar, but also very different. My parents are doctors. I work in a creative field, but I can imagine there is a creative genre within that field as well.
What was school like?
Pre-school was awesome, this actually does bring back a nostalgic memory of being in pre-school. It was Hallowe’en and we were doing arts and crafts, and I just put stacks and stacks of stuff in the middle and the teachers said: “you really went to town on that one!” When you are a really young kid there is no social manoeuvring or politics, which I tend to ignore anyway. I was moved around quite a few schools growing up. I went to a boarding school for ski-racing, it was a national academy. Then the best thing about university was being in a fantastic city. I went to college in Montreal, which is one of the best cities in the world – it is an amazing, free, creative space and I was introduced to loads of awesome cultures there.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
Loads of things really. I like experiencing culture, djing, making music and going to parties, they are all an important part of my life. I am good at fun and have been training in it my whole life.
How would you describe your business style?
Empathetic. When people look at business they think win or loose, but when you look at empathy and see what other people want, that for me is really fun. And also making cool things happen and having fun doing it.
What was the defining moment in your career?
There wasn’t a moment, I think I just gradually make better and better things.
Are there any of your piers that you admire?
Largely what I do, as much as I enjoy it, is a compromise. It is an intersection of commerce and creativity. It facilitates you being able to make things, but at the same time you have to actually make it happen. So I admire people that are really single-minded and sacrifice without having to compromise. Friends of mine that have decided thats what they want to do and focus on that one thing I admire.
Who did you admire when you were growing up?
I never had any idillic figures in my life, I was never gushing over a celebrity. I admire lots of things and creative thinking.
Were there times you thought you wouldn’t make it?
Yes sure, always. I think life has different chapters, but when I tried to make the transition away from night-life-party-dude-guy, into more serious creative industries, I made a leap. you leave one world and you are in-between two places, so you are one foot in one place and another in another.
What do you think you’d be doing now if you hadn’t have gone into magazines?
If I hadn’t gone on to do what I’m doing now I would probably be at some amazing party somewhere. Like I am at a really good party now, actually – so maybe it is the same thing. [Laughs].
Do you have any early memories that you can share with us that are tangible to the profession you are in now?
Probably designing that big construction paper for Hallowe’en in pre-school.
Whats next for you?
That is the hardest question. I never had a singleminded thing that I want to do this thing or that thing, or achieve this goal. What I want to do is maintain the curiosity to do cool things. To maintain the curiosity and naivety to continue doing what I do. To never loose that imagination and become jaded to learn new things.