Graphic Design is a very competitive field. As an artist, you are asked to solve many different problems that the client might have. anything from getting attention from their target audience to reinventing them completely. In my own words I would describe Design as creativity and critical thinking rolled into one, which is in most cases difficult to do.
As a freelance designer, you spend many hours working by yourself. You sit on your computer through the whole creative process and hope your making the very best decisions for your client. This usually is not a problem until you run into that moment you become aware that you may not be going in the right direction... this is a scary place to be working with tight deadlines and trusting clients. this is why every; artist, illustrator, designer, photographer needs allies
In College I met some of my future competition and also some future mentors. I knew if I was going to be the best I could be, I was going to have to be better then everyone around me. So I scoped every assignment for what I thought was the best and found my "rival". I was going to out do him in everything because I was competing with him.... secretly. Despite my best efforts I was losing, his work was always clean and refined, while my work, suffered from unfocused creativity. I constantly tried to out do him in every assignment, yet it never seemed to be enough.
College was over and I decided it was best I burry the imaginary hatchet. We became good friends and he continued his greatness. He refined his work and kept on task even past college. he learned everything he could and spent hours in further learning. He became very efficient with the core programs and became very skilled in typography. He thought very critically about his work over every detail.
To this day I owe a lot of my skill and success to this graphic designer. He and I have worked on many projects together. Where in turn, I have learned a lot about the critical thinking end of our work. He has helped me through countless creative processes and helped me through many design problems. Due to his critical eye and attention to detail he has helped me create all my best works. and now Im proud to let you in on a super secret graphic design interview with my friend and colleague, Jamie Vetter.
1. You work for a pretty prestigious company (Agency MABU) how did you get there?
A few years back when I was freelancing, I was working on a few projects with a good friend of mine. He contacted me about an opening with MABU and where looking for another designer to join the team. Really excited and thrilled, I quickly reviewed my portfolio and made some much needed updates. Thankfully I did, because of my portfolio I was able to land the second interview and get the job. I guess the rest is history.
2. You’re an amazingly detailed designer, everything has its place. Your stuff is structured yet simple. Tell me about simplicity. Why is this so effective or why is this not simple to do?
Simplicity is not always the least amount of content in a design, but fulfilling the need of the design to keep true to the message and then end user. While in college, my professor gave our class a branding project. Our task was to design a logo and stationery package. Without much thought or effort, I produced a graphic that “looked cool”. Feeling pretty pumped, I showed my professor my awesome design. Expecting him to say "Wow, great work!" Instead he challenged my thought process. He wanted to know what the concept was and what the message was? Feeling pretty bummed, I couldn't give him anything except "it looks cool." Chuckling a bit, he gave me a speech. He said, "every thing we do, as designers we need to be thorough and meaningful. Without a clear message we won’t be able to communicate effectively."
He helped me to think through my creative process. Provided me with ideas to give the project only what it needed and keeping the fluff for another day. As designers, we owe it to our consumers to tell the story clearly while getting to the point quickly. Otherwise they will get lost and nothing will come of it.
3. What does a normal day look like in the life of a graphic designer for a marketing agency?
Besides getting my freshly brewed cup of coffee for the morning and before jumping on the next great design, my day consists of some “not-so-creative-but-necessary” administration tasks. Such as updating my to-do list, deciding what the days priorities are and making sure all my time spent on projects has been documented. When all is said and done, I start my first project for the day.
4. What are some goals of yours you hope to attain within the next 5 years?
It will be interesting to see what the industry will be like in five years. Wondering if the digital world will be spear heading the industry. I would like to keep myself current as much as possible, while staying true to myself as a designer. Trends keeping up with the technology and how much involvement designers will have towards it.
I have a lot of options that can play out when referencing goals. As a production designer, I hope to be better at my job technically. Meaning that I should be able to produce work quicker and more efficient. In addition, professional development is a great goal, attending a design conference or workshop. Working and collaborating along side industry professionals while learning trends and discussing big topics ideas
5. What advice can you give to aspiring graphic designers?
The advice I would give to an aspiring designer is to always keep learning. Push yourself to do better as a designer. The worst thing you can do is to be complacent.
6. What is your favorite font right now?
Hmm, that's a hard one. It all really depends on the mood, atmosphere and environment. Whether it’s a clean Oldstyle or great structured Slab Serif, a nice clean font with the kerning and leading will set perfectly. If I would have to pick one font family, I would have to choose Futura.
7. What is the best and worst part of what you do?
I’ll start with the bad. I would have to say the worst part of my job is working on a project that is not turning out. The technical side of design sometimes gets in my way when executing concepts or when a concept is just off. Although, I can put a positive spin on this; meaning right when things are going wrong. You get this "ah-ha" moment and everything seems to get back on track.
As for the good. I would have to say that moment when you get excited for a project. Being able to come up with the creative side and executing it always feels good. Knowing, “I made that” while in the hands of many people is pretty cool too.
8. What qualities make a job exciting to work on?
For me, something with big type and great photography always excites me. But specifically, branding is my passion. I always get excited when I get the chance to work on a new brand for a company or organization. Asking the questions and coming up with the conclusion visually is always a fun time.
9. When you are having an unmotivated day, how do you get out of the slump?
I use others work to help with motivation while I’m in a slump. I've always found looking at others work while deciphering their strategies and processes always seem to help. Identifying why they did what they did, figuring out the technical process of the concept. Once I have an understanding or have searched through enough. I’m usually reenergized and rearing to get back in the game. In addition, vacations are always good. I have the ability to leave for a while throughout the year and focus on something different. When I get back I'm usually pretty focused.
10. You have worked on local newspapers, logos and identity design for big deal clients, what are some you’re most proud of?
Recently, I was proud to work on some cultural pieces for the National Museum of American Indians (NMAI) and National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) in Washington DC. Last year, NMAI hosted a Native Nations Inaugural Ball where I was lead designer in producing the collateral materials that supported the event. In addition, helping NCAI help produce their annual reports and budget requests for the last few years.
11. What’s something else you would really like to work on?
I would love to work more on a brand identity for a new restaurant or start-up businesses. Doing anything and everything that will be needed to present the company appropriately. Including the collateral materials and presentation of their business environment.
Designer & Illustrator