Observer: Adi Goodrich | Art Director
Native Shoes Adi Goodrich

Observer: Adi Goodrich | Art Director

Adi Goodrich is a Los Angeles based Set Designer and Art Director. Goodrich work continues to liberally push past cliché design motifs. She has worked with the likes of Wieden + Kennedy, Target, Apple, Adult Swim, Pizza Hut and Toyota just to drop a few names. In her latest project she worked with Native Shoes on their Spring 2014 campaign. She has made her passion for design her life’s work. Adi spoke to AMMO about who inspires her, how she defines beauty and why she started designing.

AMMO: What is your AMMO?

ADI GOODRICH: My AMMO is time. There is such a fleeting feeling in all of this. Like, “When am I not going to be cool anymore?” That’s a real thought; I’m going to be old and younger kids will be cooler than me, I often think about that. Time also affects the way I work: prepping for the future to be able to sustain a comfortable future life, making sure I’m being responsible and creative at the same time. Time makes me hustle. Basically, I want to make as much as possible in the best possible way for as long as I can. I was hit by a van when I was young, leaving me with a permanent back injury. Everyday my back is in pain, one of these days I think it will get in the way, in the meantime I’ll make a bunch of cool shit until I’m not cool or until my back gives up.

A: How do you define beauty?

AG: Hmmm.That’s funny, It’s a very different thing to me, since I make aesthetic spatial decisions everyday. Beauty, to me, is something that combines multiple elements in a composition seamlessly. When everything in the ‘frame’ makes sense, I guess. Intention is important and story is important. If you can pull off an image that is intentional I think that’s beauty. If something is grounded in a story and can stand on its own against pop culture or a fad, I think that’s what makes a good image. If a piece of art is riding on a currently hip factor solely, I think it won’t stand the test of time and be memorable in the history of imagery. It’s got to be smart, it can’t be all fluff. That’s beauty. It’s being smart.

A: What’s your favorite color and why?

AG: I like Vermillion, I hate purple. I don’t know why it’s my favorite color. But this question brings up the importance of color for me. I once took a class at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in color. The first day the teacher walked in and said “This will be the last color class I teach after 50 years. I took over this class after my parents taught it for 50 years.” That’s 100 years of color knowledge! It was the best class I took in school. We had the Color-Aid packs of 314 colors. We would have to lay all of them out on the table and stare at them for 8 hours. The teacher said, “You can’t be taught color, you have to know color.” She would make us find the perfect opposing colors, vibrating colors…we would have to do all of these really odd, super nerdy colorist tests. I LOVED it.

A: Tell me about your latest project Natives Shoes? How did you decide to work with this brand?

AG: The latest project with Native Shoes was their Spring/Summer 2014 catalogue. I worked with the creative director, Mark Gainor, art directing it. We concepted a story about people having an outdoor picnic with a surrealist twist. I hired Stephanie Gonot, a super talented still life photographer (and one of my closest friends) to shoot the catalogue, so the imagery of people became still lives in themselves. I also hired Jimmy Marble to direct the video portion of the campaign. Using our existing sets, Jimmy also worked with the ‘still life’ aesthetic and made the most beautiful videos, while adding a punch of humor, as he always does. Native contacted me about the project. I really respect Mark Gainor and Shawna Olsten over there. I like their collaborative vibe, their mission and their ‘get-it-done’ energy so I thought it would be an amazing fit with me and my team.

A: What do you find most rewarding about being a set designer and art director?

AG: I think what’s most rewarding about being a set designer and art director is that you get to make art for the public. Really, it’s not something for a tiny group of people to be excited about. When I gave my dad, who is a repair-man a Native Catalogue he understood it. My grandma sees a Target ad I worked on and says “Oh, that’s nice, Adi!” It’s cool to be making things that your peers can relate to as well as a middle-aged mom in the Midwest.

A. What have you learned from your work thus far?

AG: Being a good businessperson is just as important as being a good creative.

A: Where would you like to take your career within the next 5-10 years?

AG: I want to continue to grow. I want a larger studio that is all white and very clean. That’s my geeky dream. I want it to be so clean, so white, so organized. I want to work with my friends. I want to be able to pay everyone well and to feed them good food. I want to be calm and patient and to maintain the hustle.

A: How did your father’s work in the architectural preservation/woodworking business inspire you?

AG: I’ve always been building. My entire life, it didn’t inspire me, it really just made me who I am. There was no other choice to do anything else. Be a nurse? No way. Make things? Of course.

A: What’s been one of the most rewarding projects you’ve worked on thus far?

AG: Art directing for Native Shoes pretty much culminates into the best project. I get to concept with an amazing brand, and I do the set design. I hire my ultra-talented friends in video and photo to make work beside me. It doesn’t get better than that.

A: What advice would you give to someone trying to pursue a career in set design and art direction?

AG: Find an old man or woman to teach you how to use tools and respect people. There’s something to learning from a generation who’s seen it all. They have the facts. Glean from them.

A: Who is your favorite artist and why?

AG: My favorite artist is Matisse, without a doubt. You can see in his effortless lines all of the years he spent painting. His dedication shows in the simplicity of the work. Sometimes, it’s so simple it hurts to look at. I think there’s something to knowing how to stop when you’ve got enough to tell the story, and that guy’s got it. Also: Paul Klee is a baller.

A: What type of music do you like?

AG: It’s a crazy mix. Here’s what Spotify tells me I listen to the most: Lil’ Wayne. Gucci Mane. LCD Soundsystem. Wings. Hall & Oates. Nofx. Hah!

A: If you weren’t working in set design and art directing what do you think you would be doing?

AG: I’d probably be an art teacher for little kids. My sister is an art teacher, I think we could both do each other’s jobs and do just as well.

A: What is one of your favorite places to go?

AG: I like going home to Chicago. The guys are all real guys, they have a lot of heart and are tough at the same time. They let their moms set them straight and they find joy in working. The girls all know how to fix their cars, they walk a mile in the freezing cold and wait a half hour for the bus to pick them up. At night they cook amazing meals for friends. People don’t mess around. The food is down and dirty. Summers are hot and locusts are in the trees making that unforgettable sound. My family is insane and so hilarious. That is definitely my favorite place to go. I miss it everyday. Some of my a-list people are joining me out here and we have a little Chicago crew now, which is great. My brother just moved here. He’s one of my best friends and it’s pretty cool to have him here. Also, my best Friend, Eric Johnson is here and we get to work together everyday. #familystyle

For more from Adi Goodrich visit her site,

For more from the Native Shoes Spring 2014 collection, click here.