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

David Brooks is the owner of the small creative studio, Northward Compass, based out of Orlando, Florida. He writes electronic and ambient music as Light The Deep, and fantasy stories about a place called Elerien.

© Copyright 2005 - 2019 David N Brooks. All rights reserved.