In every child’s life arrives a moment when he realizes there’s a Man behind the Dad, a unique person who can, in kid terms, do cool stuff. Riley Cran’s epiphany struck when he was four and hankering for bats.
“I remember following my mom around the house with a piece of paper and a pen, asking her to draw Batman for me. One day she was busy working when I asked and told me to get my dad to draw Batman instead. I remember thinking, ‘Ha, good one, Mom. Dad can’t draw,’” Riley remembers.
“When I handed him the pen and paper, he drew the most perfect Batmobile I’d ever seen. In a completely different way than my mom would have. I realized at that moment that both of my parents could draw, and that I should probably learn how as well.”
Riley learned, and when his teenaged band needed posters, he produced. One poster gig led to another, to clients and cool side projects (The Lost Type Co-Op) and a design shop that recently doubled in size when Riley hired designer/cousin Cade Cran (dribbble.com/native). The cousins rent studio space in the same Vancouver building as David, Riley’s Batmobile-penning dad.
Riley grew up graphically, spending his childhood in a print shop surrounded by cardboard boxes full of t-shirts bearing his parents’ designs. In contrast, David grew up in a family of boys who become accountants, lawyers, and soldiers. His father, Riley’s grandfather, founded business after business after business. The theme of his childhood was travel.
David spent his first 20 years on the move, from Australia (where his elementary school still used inkwells!) to Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. His serial entrepreneur father hired teenaged David to create logos for his ventures. After this early branding work, David headed to art school, prompting his dad to ask, “Will there be any dancing?”
While intending to become a filmmaker and sculptor, David graduated art school a print maker and photographer. He visited the graphics and typography department only “to talk to the pretty girls,” including Margaret, who became his wife, business partner, and Riley’s mom.
The couple ran a design and print shop in downtown Vancouver, supplying nearby ski resorts with t-shirts. Capitalizing on their location in “Hollywood North,” they also entered the tv and movie props business. David created fonts and designed fake logos for such shows as Wiseguy and 21 Jump Street, using a series of computers that belongs on the Who’s Who of desktop history (Commodore PET, Amiga, the first Macintosh). Today, he’s working in the same freelance design universe as Riley.
While the two work separately, they often bounce work ideas off one another and occasionally collaborate. Both have a flair for the vintage, with Riley giving early inspirational credit to David’s antique tin toy collection and David crediting his age. In an interview with Conor O’Driscoll/One Minute With, he notes that while his work is called retro and nostalgic, “my influences simply come from the graphic images and pop art that I grew up with.”
When asked to pick a favorite from his son’s Dribbble portfolio, David evidences his appreciation for the mid-century North American. “The Christiana Motel project that Riley did just makes me laugh. It looks like a real motel from the ‘50s. If only they were designed that well back in the day.”
Riley chooses a shot of his dad’s that reminds him of his dad’s gift for grouping seemingly unrelated objects.
“I really like Dad’s Earls Best project. My dad had this tendency when I was growing up to arrange the items in our house into these perfect little arrangements and pairings. A Pez dispenser, an 8 Ball, and some plastic army men. That shot reminds me of something he’d do, leaving the pickle jar in exactly the right spot, so the light hits it in that perfect way.”
When not talking shop, father and son can be found sharing a beer, rocking out, building space-mobiles (“watch out Elon Musk,” warns David), or zipping around in a ’73 MGB, getting what David calls matching “son burns.”
Dribbble wishes a Happy Father’s Day to David and Riley, and to all our Dribbbling dads, daughters, and sons.
David Cran is a Vancouver-based designer, illustrator, and master screen printer. His professional passions include vintage-inspired typography, iconography, and branding. He can be found at dribbble.com/davidcran, davidcran.com, and @davidcran on Twitter.
Riley Cran is a Vancouver-based designer specializing in identity, packaging, and illustration. He is co-founder, along with Tyler Galpin, of the Lost Type Co-op. He can be found at dribbble.com/xelent, rileycran.com, losttype.com, and @rileycran on Twitter.