Mark Hilverda

Who designs this stuff?

Varve Studios is the creative freelance home of Mark Hilverda. With over 25 years of online design experience and capturing memories, I’ve never been more excited about the convergence of technology, art, and the human experience.

Design, science, illustration, history, coding, photography, writing, and marketing. These aren't separate, unrelated fields. They're complementary. They all work together - beautifully.

I creatively merge these skills and subjects to build compelling web platforms, visualizations, and online strategies for your organization.

Creative background

I first became involved in online design over 25 years ago. This was an online world without the World Wide Web and without web browsers. BBS sites were the precursor of websites and email was far from instantaneous. As a result layouts were often designed using standard character sets. These primitive restrictions led to inventive ideas and careful consideration of layout and design.

This early interest in design allowed for continued growth in both the technical and artisitic aspects of online design. Each passing year my imagination feels more free as the web and related design tools continue to grow. My current work takes advantage of these latest technologies while integrating classical and modern design elements.

Comet Hale-Bopp
Comet Hale-Bopp against light glow from nearby city (Spring 1997). One of my last traditional film photos before diving fully into digital photography. Note the fantastic secondary blue gas tail that accompanied the yellowish dust tail.

My first serious interest in photography originally stemmed from a love of the night sky. I would spend countless hours capturing the stars, nebulae, planets, and comets while learning a bit more about the vast universe we inhabit. I started adding people in the images and things became even more interesting. This expanded into other areas and my professional photography services now focus primarily on portrait, event, product, and design elements. However, I am still known to escape into nature on occasion with my camera and tripod.

Coaching others in photography is one of my most rewarding activities - I truly enjoy seeing the excitement of others using their new knowledge and techniques to capture stunning images. Enthusiasm seems to be contagious, which is why I encourage others to focus on their interests and share what they are truly passionate about. This energy can have amazing results in photography and also in all areas of life.

pencil drawing of Batman
Pencil drawing of Batman from one of my decades old sketch books. Comic artists were a big influence on my early illustration styles.

Drawing is a natural outlet for getting one's ideas and imagination into a tangible form. I've been fascinated by illustration since an early age and influenced by the work of many from classic comic artists to stunning modern digital painters. Illustration adds the ability to fully control the visual creative process and communicate ideas in ways no other media can provide. My current work is focused on logo design and scientific & historical illustrations, but I continue to absorb illustration in subjects as diverse as ancient neolithic art to fantasy and sci-fi (and yes, I still enjoy a good graphic novel).

About the name

Creating a unique business name can be challenging and I often get inquiries about the source of inspiration for naming Varve Studios. I have a formal education in geoscience which provides some of the technical background essential in web development, but is also a source of design inspiration from the beauty and patterns found in nature.

Varves are one example of patterned beauty in the natural world and they also tell a story. A varve is a layer of sediment that forms annually, often creating alternating dark and light layers. Similar to tree rings, these can be used to tell us about past conditions in the environment and how much time has passed. The alternating patterns and stories they reveal are the inspiration for Varve Studios' logo.

varve deposits
Varve deposits attributed to Glacial Lake Missoula, Montana, USA. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

As a lifelong learner, I have also more recently earned a degree in Classical Studies allowing the opportunity to focus on art and archaeology from past civilizations. This provides ongoing insight and appreciation into the styles and approaches of master artisans who have influenced so much of the design world today.

I am most appreciative of the past and although education is one aspect of the creative and technical process - experience is arguably the most important. Having worked in interface design, marketing, education, web design, scientific research (field, lab, and analytical modeling), computer programming, and illustration, I am fond of Varve Studios allowing me to harness these different skills. Creative digital design is the arena where my interests, education, and experience all fuse together enabling true creative freedom.

Interested in working together?

Contact Varve Studios