Posts tagged #resume

Changing Career Focus — Mentoring A Creative Professional

I frequently speak to students coming out of college regarding questions that they may have about their upcoming career. However, it's not often than I get the opportunity to mentor someone that I already believe to be a creative professional. Therefore, when a friend approached me about answering a set of questions, as he is returning to school, seeking a different creative direction I was more than happy to oblige.

What made you choose to become a designer?

Well there’s a funny story to that. I graduated from the Ringling School of Art and Design with a degree in illustration. What I rapidly discovered, as many design students do, is that I was ill prepared to make the proper inroads and connections to further my career. What I found, however, was that graphic design offered more job opportunities

Illustrators are an interesting breed in that we fall somewhere between graphic designer and fine artist. Our job is to digest content in whatever form it is given to us, and then create imagery to tell a story.

I met a woman who needed a little illustration but desperately needed graphic design help. I wasn’t familiar with the current software of the time, which was QuarkXPress. She offered to teach me the software in exchange for a cheap base rate. The faster I got, the more she paid me. I got my chops doing Yellow Pages designs. For a graphic designer, this is the equivalent to probably the worst jobs in the world. Nobody ever sees them, they’re not sexy, and they never win awards.

Nevertheless, what this taught me was a quick understanding of fonts, page layout, differentiating your design to yell the call to action (CTA), and speed. I became very fast and started making some decent money for the time. From there I started to challenge myself and rethink my career path, realizing that I wanted to enter the market as a designer first and artist second.

What advice would you give to a new designer?

Today’s designers are taught in reverse. Software is paramount and foundational understanding of design is secondary. Most schools right now can sell seats by showing a high student-to-career ratio. That doesn’t mean, however, that the students going out have a defined understanding of the foundation of design. Therefore, all students of this New World practice need to return on their own accord and embrace a defined understanding and slow mastery of pillars like color theory, topography, conceptual storytelling, and branding at a minimum.

But today’s designers are no different than I was 20 years ago. If you really intend to get better, you have to be on an ongoing quest to improve yourself. It is a journeyman’s position.

Any books or websites that changed your life as a creative?

As somewhat of a founding father of interactive design in Central Florida, I can say confidently most design shops worth their salt are producing great work and are always a source of inspiration. One of my biggest recommendations for any designer is to “stay humble.” There is always somebody bigger and better than you. And instead of seeing that as a threat, it should inspire you to pursue your own passion and find gratification in the niche you create for yourself.

Here are a few websites to get you started:

Which campaign that you worked on, are you most proud of? – Not simply because it was award-winning, but because it was fun.

I would say my favorite campaign was Audi’s “The Art of the Heist” —

I took a big chance on this particular project. I quit my job as the interactive creative director at YPB&R for the chance to act as the creative director for GMD Studios. GMD Studios’ claim to fame was their work with Haxan Films creating the immersive campaign for “The Blair Witch Project.” Since that time, their development of immersive advertising and alternate reality games has become second to none.  I have played a participant in many of these campaigns, acting as any number of characters as well as atmospheric discussion. But for Audi, I knew I needed to take the driver’s seat.

The campaign was a three-headed hydra of marketing houses:  McKinney Silver was the agency of record (AOR) on the Audi account. GMD Studios would handle all interactive and gameplay entertainment. Lastly, Chelsea Pictures and Haxan combined to become a company called Campfire and led much of the action that played out in film, video and live activation sequences.

Of the campaigns that you feel weren’t successful, what would you do differently, if you could?

Often, failed campaigns were not due to the creative execution, but my inability to get the client past their risk aversion. Every client has a pain threshold, whether that’s budget, edginess of creative concept, and more often an amalgam of both as well as external factors.  As a younger creative director, it was easy for me to point a finger and blame the client. There comes a point in your career where you need to also understand that you were involved in a symbiotic relationship during that campaign, and you need to ask yourself, "How did I fail it?”

Additionally, I’ve often been unwilling to delegate responsibility. If there’s no one to blame but yourself, the conflict is simply internal. When you have larger campaigns and larger clients, you have larger teams and larger problems. That’s when micromanaging comes into play, and insecure creatives have a tendency to defend and compartmentalize a project to death. The day you learn to let other people take the reins on a particular aspect of the project if they can do it better than you – the faster you will be a great creative leader.

Do you prefer to work on the corporate side or agency side? Why?

I have worked both corporate side and agency side. They both have their pros and cons.

Agency side: Working for an advertising agency is like being invited to a Broadway show with the understanding that you are in one of the leading roles. However, you’re unaware that everyone else in the show believes they too are in one of the leading roles. You often have an amazing array of talent that conflicts so much it damages the end product. Nevertheless, when you get the right synergistic group together, creative connecting can be a thing of beauty as well as a high that is better than any drug.

From my perspective, I think one of the biggest pluses for working in an agency environment is that you often work on a number of accounts in a number of ways. Now for some positions such as an account executive, this is not always the case. They may very well be on a single account indefinitely. Nevertheless, creatives often get to multitask between projects and thereby challenge themselves – sometimes to the risk of burnout.

Corporate side: Working for a marketing department is like being invited to a family. They are all dysfunctional, have varying degrees of family members that feel like this the best job in the world and conversely the other side that just wants to get out as fast as they can. The advantage to working corporate is that you get to focus the vast majority of your talents towards the development of the current creative and the knowledge you get to exercise and prototype against anything you think could benefit the business. Granted, a conservative business may not let you too far outside of their defined parameters, but many brands will give you ample freedom and the ability to try a lot of things you may not get to do in an agency environment due to budgetary restrictions.

Other than Photoshop and Illustrator, what other program do you feel are musts for a design student? Why?

I think outside of software applications, design students need to embrace the new world order of analytics and campaign optimization. All students are not prepared to construct multiple variations of a campaign, nor are they prepared to scrap everything when it is not effective. So beyond simple software, must have the fortitude and willingness of a battlefield tactician. If the client doesn’t like this direction, then where do you go? If the client approves the work and the customer doesn’t like the direction, then where do you go? If you go through the campaign completely and the postmortem shows that the return on investment (ROI) was only minimally effective, then how can you convince your client that future work will be better?

Now you read the paragraph above and you think, “Well, Justice, that’s only in the case of an agency speaking to a customer.” But I will challenge that by saying it’s no different than an agency looking at its internal creative and expecting the same results. If they fail, how do you intend to make them better on the next campaign?

Design students of all types also need to embrace the bleeding edge of social media, content marketing, mobile, mobile applications, gaming, their competitors, and the ever-changing technology landscape. There’s a new compression algorithm that decreases a file size far better than a PNG or JPG. Do you know what it is?

Constantly stay connected to your industry and its changes.

Would learning Web design be beneficial to a future designer?

When you say “learn Web design” you’re more than likely referring to, “Should I learn developmental coding?” My answer to this is no. And here’s my reason why. As I said earlier, I am not wired to be the master of all things. If I want to make great products, I need to delegate to those better than me. Therefore, I want to improve myself as a designer and creative lead. I think you should understand how to design for the Web, mobile, and tablet environments, but don’t bog down your thinking down by trying to understand the code under the hood.

How have you seen the industry change in the last 10 years?

You mean, “How have I seen the industry change in the last three months?

As a professional speaker on behalf of my industry, I create presentations in order to explain specific aspects and attributions of integrated marketing. The presentation changes every time, because of the rapid evolution.

 The changes are absolutely countless:

  • Social media
  • Content marketing
  • Mobile marketing
  • Integrated marketing
  • Programmatic media
  • Commoditization of media
  • Design changes
  • UI/UX integration
  • Live event activation
  • Effective cloud computing against all online data
  • Privacy and security
  • E-commerce solutions
  • Content management systems
  • Illumination of bandwidth concerns
  • A variety of different advertising models
  • Countless changes in online languages: HTML, PHP, CSS, MySQL, ColdFusion, Joomla!, Ruby on rails, github, etc., etc., etc.
  • Various models of agency type/solutions

What is the direction of the current creative environment?


We’ve come full circle to a certain extent. There was a time when content was king. Then there was a time when concept was king. Now we have a constant influx of startup models challenging modality on a constant basis. There is no long-standing network or channel that will ever survive the test of time.

What will stand is the need for content. The next decade will be a Renaissance for storytellers, creative developers, and all of the technologies that will deliver them. We will need videographers, photographers, designers, entertainers, and conceptualists like never before. What you have is thousands of empty buckets. All the buckets have great ideas, but if there’s nothing interesting inside of the bucket there’s no reason for me to look at. Let alone utilize the bucket or have any brand loyalty towards it.

What is the one piece of advice that will make me successful as a designer/creative?

Don’t be a Dick. In the end, you still need to sell yourself before you sell your services. If I don’t like you, I can guarantee that eventually you will be swallowed up by other designers and agencies that are better, easier, and more fun to work with. Don’t be a dick goes far beyond just not being cocky.

  • Be fun
  • Be spontaneous
  • Show energy
  • Be humble
  • Be fearless
  • Be understanding
  • Be eager
  • Be respectful
  • Be professional
  • Listen first and then lead
  • Don’t just bitch about problems, bring recommendations to correct them

This is not a question that I was planning to share for the report, but, do you think [REDACTED] has a quality program? I was planning on transferring in there to get my bachelors. Do you think copywriting and marketing is beneficial if I want to expand my creativity and learning?

One of the many reasons you will grow at any school is that you are an adult. You are here to fortify and enhance your career. Therefore, you are going to seek more from any program then a kid straight out of high school. I would ask yourself some questions as well. Are you getting a piece of paper for your bachelor’s degree to enhance your resume? Or are you getting your bachelor’s as an accomplishment for yourself personally or spiritually?

I believe [REDACTED] is more cutting edge when it comes to the progressive nature of the “real world” needs of modern-day marketing. But at least for now I think [REDACTED] has a bit more local clout.  In the end, I think our directors and creative directors are looking for a really hot online portfolio before they look for a piece of paper. If you send me your resume, the first thing I want to see is your work. I want to see if I can make you billable, and want to know how long it will take me to get you up to speed at the level that I feel is appropriate for my brand.

I know that’s not an answer, but it’s probably the best answer I can give.

My end goal is to create and work on projects/ads/campaigns that reach national levels. I want to collaborate with talented individuals.

I've worked for national agencies. I can tell you that there are pros and cons to those as well. Larger agencies are not as nimble and aggressive. Their clients are large and demanding, and because of that the shops are larger and therefore not as personalized when it comes to respecting creative talent. Smaller more niche-oriented design firms are often more progressive, but the tradeoff is that sometimes the work is not as well-known. 

Something to consider.

Addendum:  I think the last little piece of advice I could give you at this point is to take on everything. Just because you’ll seek a creative/marketing education, you need to involve yourself in as many secondary and tertiary levels as possible. Understanding all of the touch points that make up marketing will allow you to grow faster than anything. So while public relations may not seem very interesting, understanding what it is and how it interplays will be essential. Involve yourself in a video shoot and see how it’s done. Listen to a group of copywriters discuss a concept.  Sit behind a graphic designer as they lay out a design – watch the thought process. 

Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions. I’m 44 years old and in the prime of my career, and I’m comfortable saying, “I don’t know if I know what that technology is, can you explain that?” Frankly, I don’t give a fuck if people think that I am not as good as they thought I was because I don’t know the answer to every question. I ask because I want to know. Knowledge is how I am self-serving, and knowledge is how I ultimately benefit my clients, family, and friends.

Resume Dust Be Damned!

If you had a chance to read any business news during the holidays, you probably saw several stories about retail spending being up significantly during Q4. Of course this could be new info to those of you with small children, because you were consumed by the eternal search for more AA batteries in the house, and styling parties for Silly Hair Dolls.
Posted on January 4, 2012 and filed under Education, Employment, Process.

Weapons for Hunting the Elusive Creative Job - v2.0


The Backbone: Not that this is going to come as a surprise but these sites are the first sites you need to work on. Get your resume, contact information and profile up-to-date as soon as possible. Don’t forget to setup alerts based on your search criteria; it’s best to get them sent every morning.

Creative Resources: Here’s the fork in the road. For creatives we need to get our work out there on the “interwebs”, almost as soon (sometimes sooner) than our resume. The following sites are important. These sites act as a place where you can post your resume information and, furthermore, most of them allow you a basic portfolio (for free) where your work can be seen. Some offer “upgraded” accounts, at cost, that allow you to post more work to your portfolio. Understand that not only employers search these sites but recruitment firms (head-hunters) do as well to cherry pick the best talent to pitch.

Social Outreach: Unless you just stepped out of a time machine from the past you’ll know that employers want to know you before they even pick up the phone. Social media sites play a REAL part letting employers get to know you, your interests, and your personality. WORK YOUR NETWORK! works to cross reference your LinkedIn account to see if you know anyone that’s working at posted job. This way you can reach out to that contact and do some critical due-diligence prior to applying.

Project & Freelance Work: There's a growing need for freelancers and consultants of all times in the design, web and advertising market. Once settled in this genre you can do quite well. So, if you’re ready to battle everyone with a copy of CorelDraw and a fistful of clip art I give you the following URL’s. Vaya con dios mi amigo.

Design & Dev:



Just Jobs: The following sites are a mixed bag of freelance and full time positions.

Portfolio Builders: Here are a couple of great sites to build your portfolio on.

Digital Asset Swapping: Interesting concept here if you’re interested in sifting your old comps', code and images. You never know you might even make some cash.

Geek/Design Dork Dating: The name says it all.

Additional Trusted Creative Job Resources:

Get Creative Articles Published:

Sites to post webdesign, CSS and grahic design to promote your portfolio:

Design Blogs Resources & Intel:

The Following Design Blog List Artfully Assembled by David Airey:

  • Design Observer: writings about design & culture
  • Smashing Magazine – a weblog dedicated to web-developers and designers
  • Core77 / design magazine + resource /
  • Authentic Boredom – by graphic designer, Cameron Moll
  • Coudal Partners: a forum for creativity and experimentation
  • CR Blog – News and views on visual communications from the writers of Creative Review
  • Design Notes published by Michael Surtees who tries to see life filtered through design as opposed to placing design on a pedestal
  • Dexigner – popular design portal featuring the latest design news
  • Hicksdesign – Journal of a small creative agency based in Witney, Oxfordshire, UK, authored by Jon Hicks
  • I Love Typography, devoted to fonts, typefaces and all things typographical.
  • Mark Boulton: Design Thinking. Web Delivery. By a designer based in Cardiff, UK.
  • Quipsologies – Corralling the most relevant and creative on- and off-line bits that pertain to the design community.
  • Randa Clay Design – Design, Marketing, Blogging, Branding and all things Creative
  • Russell Davies – incredibly diverse UK-based blog on topics associated with design
  • Speak Up > Design Dialog
  • Subtraction 7.0 –’s Design Director, Khoi Vinh, blogs about design and other relevant info.
  • Swissmiss – tina roth eisenberg | swiss designer gone nyc
  • Typographica. A Journal of Typography.
  • Veer: The Skinny – provides visual elements for use in professional creative work
  • Veerle’s blog 2.0 – Webdesign – XHTML CSS | Graphic Design
  • You the Designer – Graphic Design Blog
  • Logo Design Love: a website dedicated to all things logo.
  • Ace Jet 170 – Found type, print and stuff
  • AisleOne – Design, typography and everything else.
  • Anamorphosis. learn design create
  • Be A Design Group – a blog for graphic designers, created in March of 2004 by Adrian Hanft and Bennett Holzworth.
  • Chris Glass, The Last 10 Days. A creative fella’s journal from Ohio.
  • Creative Curio – Learn, discuss and explore the realm of graphic design.
  • Designers who Blog – features blogs discussing graphic design, web design, illustration, marketing, photography, branding, writing and advertising
  • Design Adaptations | Charity Ondriezek
  • Design is Kinky – a proudly Australian blog on design
  • Design Sojourn | Strategic Industrial Design Blog
  • — Articles and Resources for Web Designers
  • Design View: Articles, Essays and Opinions by Andy Rutledge
  • Elite By Design a freelance and web design community website
  • Fuel Your Creativity – Find your spark
  • Grain Edit – covers contemporary graphic design / illustration, as well as design from the from the golden era of advertising (1950s–1970s).
  • Graphic Define Magazine – focuses on the business of running a graphic, interactive, or web design studio.
  • Ideasonideas, a blog that invites dialogue on issues relevant to communication designers and brand strategists
  • Inspiration Bit – Get inspired and learn from the latest technology, art and design buzz on the Web.
  • Inspiredology – covers everything that inspires us.
  • ISO50 – The Visual Work of Scott Hansen
  • Jasongraphix :: A journal of art, thoughts, and projects by Jason Beaird
  • Noisy Decent Graphics by Ben Terrett, a Graphic Designer in London
  • Positive Space :: The Graphic Design Blog
  • Spoon Graphics – the personal project of Chris Spooner, a UK based Graphic / Web Designer.
  • Swiss Legacy – Graphic design and typography
  • The Dieline – packaging design blog
  • The Serif – Your daily dose of design inspiration
  • Things to look at – plenty of images, and oddly, things to look at
  • Type for you. A blog on typography, by Pedro Serrão, a graphic designer from Porto, Portugal.
  • TypeNeu dedicated to typography, fonts, lettering and typefaces
  • AdGoodness – advertising and design blog from Frederik Samuel
  • Andy Budd :: Blogography – based in Brighton, England
  • BittBox – Homemade vector freebies, design tips, tutorials and bitts.
  • Computerlove – Connecting Creative Talents
  • Creativebits | Apple orientated design community (must register to comment)
  • David the Designer – don’t underestimate the knowledge this man has acquired (and don’t call him Dave)
  • Elliot Swan survived three days without the internet
  • FormFiftyFive – Design Inspiration – the pet project of designers Glenn Garriock and Jack Daly
  • GraphicPUSH – “a sporadically but faithfully updated design blog”
  • Graphic Design Blog – graphic design, freelancing, illustration, advertising, web design
  • Laughing Lion Design : Web, Graphic Design & Illustration Ireland
  • Lealea Design: Blogblog: Design inspiration and introspection
  • Luz Cannon: The Work of David Brooks : Designer, Photographer and Audio Producer
  • NOTCOT.ORG – for your ideas + aesthetics + amusement.
  • SeptemberIndustry | a showcase of the best in international graphic design
  • SonSpring | Journal by Nathan Smith
  • We Made This (It’s Our Blog)
  • Your Brain on Design: A Graphic Design Blog | Leslie Tane Design
  • Binky the doormat – Thoughts on design and visual culture by Daniel Gray
  • CrazyLeaf Design Blog – Web Design and Graphic Design Blog
  • Creative Guy – tips, tricks, tutorials and discussion about Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator for designers running Mac OSX
  • Designer Daily graphic design inspiration and resources
  • Gazelle Creative – by Elizabeth Jackson (a.k.a. Zabs)
  • Gradient dropshadow curve – by Henry Tapia
  • Just Creative Design – personal blog of Jacob Cass, a graphic designer in Australia
  • Outlaw Design Blog – A Graphic Design Blog
  • Reflections – the personal blog of Paul Enderson, a freelance web and graphic designer from England
  • Truly Ace – Graphic Design Blog
  • Tutorial Blog – Design Articles and Tutorials
Posted on December 29, 2009 and filed under Advertising, Design, Interactive.