What do you think is the most important skill to have in order to compete in the graphic design field?
This is a question that everyone asks and I find it at times a difficult one to answer. The answer also changes depending on who I am talking to. I think that when I first graduated I would say it was the ability to take criticism of your work. While I still think that this is an extremely important thing, I would now say the most important ‘skill’ to have as a designer is the ability to work in a collaborative environment. No matter what you do in the design industry, everything you ever work on will be a collaboration, whether it be a team at your studio, or your client, nothing you do will not have someone providing some form of feedback. So I think that is an important skill.
There are a few other skills I think are extremely important, and also help you in your collaboration. Time management is key, if you can’t juggle multiple projects, and stay on deadline, then neither can your team. Communication can be the difference between a client making a good decision and a bad decision, or your design team hitting the mark, you have to be able to say why you did what you did, or communicate the needs of the project to other designers in order to succeed. And, finally, their is the ability to adapt your style to needs of the client or project. A product geared towards women fifty-five and older shouldn’t look like it was designed for 18 year old men. Sometimes compromises need to be made in your personal style to create a successful design.
What do you take inspiration from?
Everything. But no seriously, everything. Whether it be a color palette from a photograph to a design style used for a product package, I find it everywhere. It tends to really get influenced based on projects I am currently working on, but I am constantly on the lookout for interesting designs, interfaces and user experiences that work and that don't work. I have also found that I have been learning more from things that fail than from things that succeed. Sure, everyone knows the experience of un-boxing an Apple product is clean, simple and well designed, but what about their competitors, how do they do it and what makes them as successful, or less successful, this generally leads to better ideas on how to succeed, but not just be another ‘me too’ product. The other thing I like to do when looking for inspiration for a specific project is look at things in a completely different market space, designing for print? Look for inspiration in the digital realm, and vice versa. Competitive (same market space) and comparative (different market space or medium) research can lead to more differentiated concepts.
What products or designs have really impressed you lately?
Well, we have been doing a lot of packaging recently, and I have seen some really sweet designs during our research. One of the ones that sticks out to me is the Beats line of headphones by Monster. I think the branding is well done, and very consistent across the products, from the packaging to the in store POP. Also the packaging fits the price points of the product. The expensive Pros package feels like a $400 product belongs in it while the lower end $100 tours maintain the feel of high end even though they use different materials. Also they didn't miss any details in the product that ties it all together, from the red cables to the laser etching its all a cohesive brand experience. I think they really hit the mark.
I was born in Silver Springs Maryland in ‘78. I have lived in Oklahoma, Maryland, Delaware and Florida. I am a Graduate of the Ringling School of Art and Design with a BA in Graphic and Interactive Communication, with a minor in Photography. I have been a member of the ROBRADY team for almost eight years and am currently the Graphic Design Director.
Fun Fact: I was taught to throw a football and play chess by a midshipmen in the Navy that my family sponsored when we lived in Maryland. I throw a decent football and I have a terrible late game in chess.