INTERVIEW | David Bromstad

It’s been 11 years since David Bromstad took the world by storm when he won the debut season of HGTV’s Design Star.  We had the opportunity to speak to the Miami local, picking his brain on his path to success, finding out what inspires the designer and what led him to be the multifaceted artist we see today.  

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Art Hive: I want to start from the beginning. I know that you were first introduced back in 2006 when you were the winner of the debut season of HGTV’s Design Star. Was there a moment that you can remember when you knew that design and creativity would play an important role in your career path? Where did you think your journey would start? Was there a single moment in your life where this interest peaked for you?

David Bromstad: This is going to sound super cheesy, and super typical and basic, but it was when I saw The Little Mermaid. I think I was 14 or 15, and I’ve always been a Disney fanatic. Ever since I could open my eyes, Disney was a huge part of my life; some of my most amazing memories are from when I was three in Disney World. The Little Mermaid really got my curiosity peaked, but Beauty and the Beast is what sold me forever. So those two movies, because they were back-to-back movies, influenced me for different reasons.  The Little Mermaid just sucked me in because it was so fantastic and the story was so beautiful, and Beauty and the Beast because it was so technically fantastic, and I think I was at a stronger point in my artistic career and mind that I could really go, “I want to do that.” I wanted to be an animator forever but that was just like “okay, that’s it, I’m going to school for this, this has to happen.” That was probably the pinnacle. I always knew I wanted to be creative, but I just didn’t have a lot of amazing support from my family; we grew up lower middle class, and when your son is super creative and weird like I am, it’s scary. You know, it’s like my parents loved me and I had a wonderful childhood, they just wanted me to be secure, and being an artist, especially back in the 90’s was not the thing to do.  Being an artist today is expansive with social media now, it’s insane.  It’s a different world, it’s like you can be anything. These millennials are fantastic; I love their freethinking. It’s really interesting to see.  Anyway, it took some convincing for my father; he said, “you need to go into computers” and I said, “there’s no future in computers!” Then he saw my artwork and he was like, alright, this kid’s got some talent; let’s go for it. 

AH: Living in Miami Beach­—are there any spots that you frequent to pick up on design ideas or maybe draw inspiration from? 

DB: The ocean. I have a little craft pad studio right on the ocean, with a view; it has the view, the most amazing view, and that is my biggest inspiration. I sit there and stare, soak in the rays if I want to be toasted alive, but I usually get a lot of creativity from just walking around South Beach. I’m a swimmer so I go to the public pool to swim, and I try to do it at least 4 times a week. Walking through South Beach is just so unique; I try to take in things that I’ve never taken in before like interesting architecture, and all the different colors, and how unique this place is. Every place that I visit is special to me, no matter where it is, I try to draw inspiration for why this town happened to be and try to find the good points of it. 

AH: Speaking of design, do you draw inspiration from the Art Deco design? Is that something you like?

DB: No [laughs]! I do love it, and appreciate it, and I know we have the most concentrated Art Deco buildings in the country, and that’s fantastic, but to me this is ‘Art Deco Lite’. Art Deco to me is like New York, Paris; those are some serious Art Deco moments. I love it down here, it’s very unique, but I can draw my inspiration from a piece of garbage that I see. I’m like, “Look at that pretty color combination! It’s trash, but it’s so pretty!” 

AH: That’s the great thing about being an artist; you can see beyond the trash. Besides your surroundings and life in Miami, is there anywhere else you look for a dose of inspiration?

DB: I look in magazines, but Pinterest is my go-to site if I want to be inspired. There are creative people being creative and pinning the most fabulous things, and nobody needs glue anymore as far as looking for a pretty picture; they can just go onto Pinterest and everyone’s already done it for you. It’s the best thing in design that’s happened in the last decade for sure.

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AH: I’m sure you know that the new Pantone color of the year is Greenery. Do you have a way to suggest integrating that color, and how do you integrate it into a home, for example, without it overtaking your life since a new Pantone color will be out the following year?

DB: This is where accents come into play; most of the Pantone colors are accent colors. They are fashion colors, not interior colors that are suggested, they just happen to fall into interiors in the next few years but it’s not generally that way. The only one that’s kind of fallen at the same time in fashion is that pink blush color; it’s in fashion, and in homes, and in everywhere all at the same time, which is so rare for a color, especially for a pink shade like that. I love it; it’s in my home so I wear it every day. It’s one of my obsessions because I love pink, but Greenery is definitely a color that is for accessories: for throw pillows, a throw, like a blanket, something minor that you can change out. It’s a fun fresh color, and if you notice, this is the first time I’ve seen them do this because usually they show just the Pantone color, but this time they are showing the Pantone color and also 8 different colors that go with it, so it doesn’t look as horrible as it is. I don’t love the color, but I don’t really love any of the colors that come out. They have done so much research though, they don’t just pick this color because; they go all over the world, they go to every single continent, they look at what manufacturers are doing, they look at what’s really coming in from the ground floor, and the research is amazing, so I trust them. 

AH: As a designer, are there some trends that you absolutely hate that you wish would go away? 

DB: Chevron needs to go away. I mean I love chevron, but it’s everywhere and designers are so over it, including myself. It’s got to die, but the American public just loves it; it’s kind of like the brown-blue combo that is still around from 20 years ago. It’s amazing that chevron has become a staple, kind of a classic, which happens sometimes when design trends don’t go away – like pineapples! They need to go away, but they don’t. I’m developing a product line at the moment and they told me, you have to add pineapples. When trends don’t die, they turn classic, which is a great thing! So we are never going to see chevron go away completely, because people love it, they eat it up; it’s modern, it’s hip, but it can be very traditional at the same time. It’s got that “it” factor that’s going to last for decades, if not centuries.

AH: Besides everyone knowing you’re a designer, you are also an accomplished artist.  Is there an art genre or medium that you love and often turn to when you do your artwork?

DB: I think I go more towards pop art, like a subject matter on white; I love it and that’s just kind of my go-to thing because it challenges me.  When painting something graphic, it is very difficult to make it look clean and crisp. I love that; I love the technical aspect of it. Although I do love painting and doing something in 15 minutes, that’s not what I really enjoy. I love the detail in a painting so I definitely tend to lean more towards pop art, especially because it looks so fun in every single style; it can look great in a contemporary house, a modern house, a traditional house, a country house, it can look good in a lodge, and it just transcends and can bring humor into a space that’s serious or needs a little uplift. That’s my go-to because I love happy art,—so pop art! 

AH: You’ve done a lot of collaborations in the past with a variety of brands. Are there any design collaborations you have coming up?

DB: I have a collaboration with Tuesday Morning. I’m developing a whole furniture, accessory, and rug line that comes out in September so I’m super excited. It’s going to be fabulous! And obviously because it’s at Tuesday Morning, which is an off-brand marketplace, it’s very affordable, and the product is so sensational, I’m in love with it. They will be sold at the big Tuesday Mornings, but I’m hoping to have a collaborative list on my website of which Tuesday Mornings will be carrying my product.

AH: What advice can you share with others when it comes to reaching your level of success?

DB: This is one of my favorite questions to answer. If you love what you do and you’re good at it, you have to stick with it. So many people get caught in the trap of money. “Yeah, I’ll go into real estate as I’m trying to become an artist” is really great for some people, but most get stuck in the corporate life because they are making money. I say struggle­­—struggle until you can’t struggle anymore; take out some loans, ask mom and dad for money, but you have to have a passion for it. I didn’t have a job going out of college; it took me a few months to find something and it wasn’t something I enjoyed, but it was something slightly in my field. I left that because it was sucking me dry as a creative person, and I lost all of my benefits at Disney and took a job where I was getting paid by the hour. I took that risk and have been constantly taking risks like that throughout my career, and it has paid off. I stuck with it and I didn’t listen to my dad.  He said, “What about insurance? What about retirement?” and I said, “Dad, I’m fine, something is going to give.” It was coming and I didn’t know when it was coming, but I was doing something that I love. I was creating art on my own terms; obviously I had clients, but that was fun. I was just as happy before I became whatever I am now; I was thrilled even though I was struggling because there was always a goal. I had to stick with it —that’s my biggest thing, stay with it and struggle a little bit; it’s ok, you have to pay your dues, like with every job. For me it was 10 years, which goes by so fast when you’re trying to make it. There are some people who want to be artists so bad, but they’re just not good at it. You have to realize your talent, and you have to realize if you have talent; that’s a key phrase for me, if you’re good at it and you love what you do. I’ve seen so many talented artists, especially from when I went to school, that just got stuck in that money thing; they’re like, “oh you know, I have to pay bills, I have all these student loans”, and now they’re doing exactly what they did outside of college, and that’s not being an artist, which is very sad.

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AH: Is there anything we’ve missed that you’d like to share with our readers?

DB: Even though I’m an artist and designer, I’m also playing a real estate agent on my television show, My Lottery Dream Home, which airs every Friday night. It’s doing extremely well, and it’s funny; it’s probably the most successful show that I’ve had. It is killing it in the ratings and competing with a lot of big shows; a few weeks ago it was ‘top five’ in all cable networks, so we are doing well, and although this is not a creative venture for me, it’s a different type of creativity for me. Being a good host is just rounding out my brand of having some longevity in the television world, which is a whole different type of creativity that I am exploring at the moment. It’s a lot of fun and I’m having a great time. When I first got onto TV, I was like oh gosh, I’m on TV, it’s my first year, we need to develop a brand, we need to have furniture, we need to have paint, and my agent goes, “slow your roll, this is a marathon not a sprint, no one is going to back you, you’ve only been on TV a few months.  You have to be on television for at least 5 years for them to even think that you’re going to become a brand with them.” Now that I’m celebrating my 11 years of being on HGTV, it’s crazy, it’s wonderful, but also feels super strange that they let me do this for so long, but it shows that I have longevity, which is really great.  

FOR MORE ON DAVID: 

  • Instagram--@ Bromco
  • Facebook--@ DavidBromstadTV
  • Twitter--@ Bromco 

This article was originally published in Art Hive Magazine | Issue 23 | Fall 2017

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