In many ways, the men behind DKNG Studios are living the life so many graphic designers, illustrators, and other creatives dream of. They have a thriving business and get paid to do what they love. They have a steady stream of brand-name clients, but they’ve also carved out time for personal projects. And they have a signature style that the world can’t seem to get enough of.
But how did DKNG Studios get where it is today? Read on to learn more about DKNG’s path and work—and get inspired on your own journey to creative success.
All About DKNG Studios
DKNG Studios is a creative studio that was started in 2005 to provide full-service graphic design and illustration work, including poster design, packaging design, icon design, brand identity development, apparel and product design, web design, and more.
The studio is a two-man operation, made up of Dan Kuhlken and Nathan Goldman, who are based in Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively.
The style of DKNG Studios’ work runs the gamut—and adapts to align with clients’ needs—but it’s generally characterized by a mix of textures inspired by traditional printmaking, simplified shapes inspired by icon design, bold geometric patterns, illustrations rich with detail, and saturated colors.
While the pair have worked with a variety of clients—ranging from the United States Postal Service to Adobe to Doritos and so many more—the bulk of their work is in the entertainment industry, particularly music and movies.
This focus comes from their shared love of music, which is what originally brought them together: As teenagers, the duo started a pop-punk band called “Mas Macho” after meeting at Scripps Ranch High School in San Diego. They had each grown up loving art and graphic design as well, and they started collaborating to create posters and album art for their band.
It was when they went to college in LA that their design collaboration really started to take off. A friend who was working for the historic music venue the Troubadour was looking for someone to make posters for the club. Still avid music lovers, they jumped at the chance and ended up designing over 100 concert posters for nothing more than free tickets. In one DKNG Studios interview, they explain, “It wasn’t really a career at this point, but building this portfolio was the first big step on our way.” Around this time they also started to experiment with screen printing, which would go on to inform much of their work.
Still, they both went on to take other jobs after college—Goldman as the Art Department Coordinator for Veronica Mars and then in the USC Design Studio and Kuhlken for Ed Hardy’s kids clothing line—before starting to build their own studio.
Their big break really came when they won a poster design contest for the band Flight of the Conchords—which sparked the attention of other groups who reached out to the pair for poster design work, including Phish, Dave Matthews Band, The National, and Jack White. (That said, while this path worked for them, they share a caveat in one DKNG Studios interview: “We definitely don’t advise people to do design contests these days, because oftentimes they’re just ways of big companies getting design work for free.”)
Before long, film industry insiders were reaching out to the duo to create detailed posters for classic films, which they ended up doing for Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Home Alone, among others.
Since then, Goldman and Kuhlken have always looked for new ways to expand their skills and shake up their work, often using personal projects to test out new ideas. These experiments have led to assignments ranging from beer and food packaging to designing pins and puzzles, and so many other exciting creative challenges.
Along the way, the DKNG duo have always loved giving back to up-and-coming designers by sharing their path and their process through things like their podcast, The DKNG Show, their multiple Skillshare classes, and behind-the-scenes process videos.
Learn More About DKNG’s Story!
In DKNG’s Live Encore: The Path to Creative Success
Examples of DKNG Studios Work
While DKNG Studios has done a huge variety of work, here are some standout projects showing their talent and breadth. If you love what you see, you can buy some of their work in the DKNG Studios store.
DKNG Music Posters
DKNG Movie Posters
DKNG Packaging Design
Other DKNG Work
Where to Find More DKNG
Want to keep up with DKNG? Follow them below!
- DKNG Studios’ website
- DKNG Studios’ store
- DKNG Studios’ Facebook
- DKNG Studios’ Twitter
- DKNG Studios’ YouTube
Learn to Design Like DKNG!
Illustrating an Icon Set: Design a Cohesive Series