Written by Hannah Saulters | Photographed by Frank Farmer
David Morgan has witnessed an industry in flux. Currently a wall-covering designer with the Carrollton, Ala., based firm Rainbow Creations, Morgan began his art career at a time when Â India ink and tracing paper were the norm. “Now everything is digital with Photoshop and Illustrator,” he says.
Although technology might have changed since Morgan’s first design job as an editorial illustrator at a local newspaper in Beaumont, Texas, his approach to art remains rooted in his experience as a studio painter and graphic designer. Initially studying journalism at Louisiana Tech, he soon recognized his need to study studio art. “I’ve always drawn and made art for as long as I can remember, but I never saw it as something I could do for a career,” Morgan says. Despite the seeming unpredictability of a career as a designer, Morgan has worked consistently since his time in school and encourages future generations of artists to do the same.
“Learn to draw,” he recommends. “Expose yourself to a variety of types of art and design. You can appreciate an artistic technique without actually enjoying doing it.”
Morgan counts himself as fortunate to have studied with teachers and peers who challenged him and cites their influence as one reason for making it in the design world. His interest in arts of all kinds allowed him the flexibility to foster both his talents in cutting-edge graphic design as well as his aptitude for more traditional painting. He also notes that being a stay-at-home dad when his now 15 and 12-year-old children were young was a rewarding way to be involved with his family while still giving him the flexibility to work from home.
A Jackson transplant, Morgan began working for Rainbow Designs upon moving to the state for his wife’s job. His first projects were borders, smaller pieces lining the tops of walls below the ceiling molding. But the scale of his designs has steadily grown from working on 18-inch high pieces to 18-foot tall patterns.
“Working on a larger scale is more fun,” says Morgan. “You want the design to look really clear and sharp from across the room, but with more visual and tactile elements as you approach it. The best design almost disappears because it works so well within the space, but as you get closer, you see its complexity.”
Rainbow Designs uses both traditional screen printing and digital printing methods, giving their clients a range of options for customization not only in the graphics themselves but in their texture and reflectivity. Although most laymen would call what they design “wallpaper,” in fact most of the wall coverings are printed on vinyl or canvas, because these textiles tend to be more durable than standard painted walls. They also allow for use of objects like glass beads to catch light or other elements that build in texture.
The dynamism of each project keeps Morgan interested, collaborating with clients to develop a design that reflects the spaces architectural integrity as well as its interior design. Of his own style, Morgan calls his aesthetic “clean and contemporary,” making already spacious ballrooms and conference rooms at the Houston Marriott Marquee, the Louisville Omni and the Seattle Sheraton hotels seem even grander. Although most of Rainbow Designs clients are corporate hotel chains, restaurants and businesses, including Holiday Inn and Macy’s Department Stores, Jackson residents can see their work at the First Baptist Church Daycare Center, which showcases a woodland scene by Jacksonian painter Don Jacobs digitally printed on a vinyl covering.
While Morgan is devoted to his design work, he has aspirations of returning to painting as well, hoping to pursue some of his personal passions further. For fear of missing out on family fun, he doesn’t look forward to holing up in the studio in quite the same way he did in school, but Morgan is eager for a change of pace, to deal once more in brushes and paints than in styluses and screens.