I’m a lawyer!


I'm a lawyer!

No I’m not.

I could read a few books on law, go sit in on a court session, and have some business cards printed up. I could call myself a lawyer and maybe even fool you. You might even hire me to handle your divorce for you.

But that would be CRAZY, right? You want your divorce lawyer to know law, to be up with trends and the issues of the day. Same with your dentist, doctor, plumber, realtor, bartender, or even your chef.

So why do we stand for a bunch of folks who run around calling themselves graphic designers, who were never educated in the field?

A computer and software knowledge does not a designer make. Listen, I got my BFA in graphic design and photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where I won a merit scholarship my first year there.

I went on to acquire an MA in professional media practices from the School of Journalism at SIUC. My final paper was on how graphic design has evolved to encompass both the print and digital world, and how designers can best present their client’s info on both platforms.

So I’ve got the education. I can proudly proclaim to the world that I am a professional graphic designer. But that’s not all! I have YEARS of experience designing, teaching, practicing, critiquing, learning from my employers, mentors, and yes, even my clients.

What brought this on, you ask?

I’m looking around and seeing a lot of self-proclaimed designers tout their wares as being the CHEAPEST. I’m gonna save that rant for another day. For now, let’s just all ask ourselves what we want in a creative director or graphic designer. Isn’t your company, service, or political platform worth presenting as well as possible? And don’t you want the person doing that to be the most highly educated, ethical professional available?


Really? Why wouldn’t I?


Really? Why wouldn't I?

The question, posted as an AIGA LinkedIn discussion: “Would you still be a designer if we never progressed to digital design?”

Such an odd query. It suggests that eventually designers would have tired of the profession had it remained based in hand skills. Don’t get me wrong, I love InDesign and Photoshop and the gadgets we use now—the tools that have replaced T-squares, non-repro blue pens, rubylith and those hulking Lucy machines. Truly, it’d be difficult to be a garden variety graphic designer these days without using a computer. Computers are fast and precise, and allow us to produce more rapidly.

But I was good at making things by hand, and I enjoy working by hand. So why wouldn’t I take every opportunity to work that way?

The other thing that bugs me about the question is the focus on software. Contrary to what some folks seem to believe, a person who knows InDesign does not a designer make. Graphic designers are highly trained in color theory, layout, typography and all the elements and principals of design. It’s also about the IDEAS, folks. Being able to make something in a software package is a given these days…it’s a bare minimum.

Here’s an image I created this week for a local musician, Nathan Diller. We’re running a contest tied into his video cover of “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic. We’re asking folks to visit his facebook page, like him, and then guess how many stars are in the photo. We will name a star after the person who comes closest. So go give it a try! You can find the contest here: https://www.facebook.com/nathandiller?fref=ts

Such fun putting this concept, and this image together…literally moving all the little stars around, playing with color and shape and line, and photographing the results. It felt more like play than work. And isn’t that the best we can hope for in our chosen profession?

It’s all about the campaign.


It's all about the campaign.

I just wrapped up a job I’m really excited about, for the sixth annual Hands Together in Flatrock Music and Arts Festival. Like many jobs, it started smaller than it ended. I was hired to design a poster and a T-shirt for this annual festival held in a very diverse neighborhood in Nashville. The design was to utilize a hand motif that’s been used previously, and reflect the diversity of the area.

I did a bunch of brainstorming and arrived at a place that felt appropriate for this burgeoning neighborhood. It’s a vibrant place, with lots going on. I sent a rough to my client for approval. He liked it. So together we worked through the approval process for the poster. It went smoothly, and after they were printed, my client got very positive feedback from sponsors and people in the neighborhood.

I moved on to the shirt design, which initially was only going to be a couple of colors. Because of the success of the poster, my client was able to find some money to print with more colors. Hopefully, this will translate into sales at the festival!

It was also at about this time when he decided to advertise with Nashville’s weekly arts magazine, the Nashville Scene. We did a quick renegotiation, and I was able to carry this project all the way through to completion. I’m proud of the way it all works together across sizes, formats, and color platforms. I’m also glad to work with a client who trusts the process and was with me every step of the way. Thanks, TC Weber. It was a fun gig and I hope to work together with Flatrock again next year!