About David Brooks

David Brooks on a surf board in Costa Rica

Hello! I’m David Brooks, an interactive designer, generative artist, electronic musician, and Fantasy Writer from Michigan. During the day I build things as the creative director and owner of a design, app, and game studio I founded in 2010 called Northward Compass. At night I create art and write music as Light The Deep. I also build things like an app suite for writers, an organizational tool for musicians, and a canvas framework for JavaScript. I’m also finishing up the last bit of my first fantasy novel. Details about that are over at Elerien.com.

My Education

Before I started on the web, I attended Spring Arbor University where I studied Spanish. In the last semester of that program I also attended a small Spanish language school in Costa Rica. After graduation, I attended Asbury Theological Seminary where I studied World Missions (Intercultural Studies) with an emphasis on leadership. As you likely figured out, language, and culture really interest me.

How I Got Into Web Design and Development

The truth is, I started on the we by accident. I was building Geocities sites for my bands without a care of how it ought to be done for five years. Then, when I was studying at Asbury Seminary, they were in the process of converting a table-based layout into web standards-focused HTML and CSS. That put them ahead of the game, especially for a large-scale academic institution. But I had no idea what any of that meant. I have Nathan Smith to thank for the hours of time he invested in teaching me how to do things the right way.

After my time at Asbury I took a role at Fry Inc. where I did front-end development work for large-scale eCommerce brands. I wasn’t there long. We moved to Dallas so I could work at Fellowship Technologies on their church management system, FellowshipOne. I learned a lot about JavaScript, back-end development, and agile. Mostly I learned how hard UI design actually is. It was also there that I built ArtisanJS to do generative art in-browser.

Starting Northward Compass

In 2010 my daughter was born and I launched my first web app, Thousand Wires. I wanted to spend time at home and have the flexibility to work on my app so I quit my job and moved to Michigan (then Indiana) to be closer to family. That kept me busy for a couple of years before I joined the team at Artletic.

With the continued remote work we decided to return to Costa Rica for language school. People ask me why I took a role at Artletic instead of sticking with Northward Compass full-time. The short answer is, at the time I was tired of searching out business. I was still in the process of learning how to run a business and it was a bit draining. Artletic gave me the opportunity to work from home, doing all the things I was good at, without having to land new clients every month.

Florida and Disney

The sign at Team Disney - Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, It's Home From Work We Go

I had been working on Northward Compass projects on the side during the past few years, but after Artletic I re-focused my efforts. That was short lived. Six months later I started a role building apps at Disney. I worked with the applications they use to run the parks efficiently.

Taking the opportunity there meant we needed to relocate to Orlando Florida. There I learned how not to hate AngularJS and designed some of my favorite interfaces to date. When my contract with Disney was complete, I transitioned back to working at Northward Compass full-time.


In my Junior year in College I took a black and white photography course. It was most-likely my favorite course in college. I spent ridiculous hours in the dark, developing photos by hand. The things I learned there helped me take better photos during the following years and also set me up for a foundation in design. I have leaned heavily on well-taken photos in almost every design project I’ve ever created.

Mentions, Interviews, and Accolades

50 Graphic Design Blogs

David Airey Nov 2007

135+ Top Graphic Design Blogs for 2012

The Big List of Lists

25 Graphic Designers You Should Know By Now

The Art Career Project

Camtasia Through the Eyes of a Musician: A Customer Interview with David Brooks

Tech Smith Sep 2012

30 Awesome Graphic Design Blogs You’re Not Following

PsPrint Nov 2012

Top 100 Design Blogs To Follow In 2013 [Infographic]

Tech Smith Dec 2012

Speaking Engagements

Your First Web Application, From Design to Launch

Refresh Detroit Dec 2012

Responsive Imagery and Dynamic Art.

Refresh Detroit Feb 2011

A Photo of David Brooks

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