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June Member of the Month:
Paul Bussmann

Written by
AIGA Saint Louis
Published
June 2, 2016

About Paul Bussmann

I’m a husband, proud father of three, business owner, educator, photographer, and designer. A graduate of the University of Michigan, I began my career in Chicago. My roots eventually called me home to St. Louis to join Fleishman-Hillard where I established and led the firm’s branding practice. In 2005, I established the brand communications firm, Paul Bussmann LLC.

Please tell us about your current position. What’s a typical day like for you?
I lead a brand communications firm that serves corporate and nonprofit clients. I’m a practitioner who works in the trenches alongside clients, colleagues, and collaborators to make things happen and get things done. I wear a variety of different hats in this role. One day might involve preparing a discussion guide for conducting discovery interviews, another might include triggering a camera shutter, and the next might include twisting Bézier curve handles to hone typographic details.   

How do you feel about working in St. Louis and the Midwest?
I’m very proud to call St. Louis home. Our community is brimming with talented people and resources and there’s healthy competition in play to keep us all on our toes. From a business standpoint, our central location and time zone is conducive to fulfilling our mission of serving clients from coast to coast as well as those in our own backyard. 

What’s the most satisfying part of any design project?
Working closely with people whom I respect for a purpose that I believe in has proven to be an effective formula for creating mutual and enduring success. 
    

Tell us about one project you remember the most, good or bad.
We led a rebranding program for a century-old nonprofit organization that was undergoing transformational change. The timing for the brand launch synchronized with the date of their annual fundraising gala. As a way to give back, we hired a jeweler to craft an 18-karat gold necklace featuring the new logo. We then donated this keepsake to their live auction. It was a delightful surprise for our client, a memorable way to further support their cause, and a fun way to connect on a very personal level with their supporters.

When was the first time you knew you wanted to work in design?
In 7th grade I learned calligraphy from the Benedictine monks while attending Saint Louis Priory. At the time, I didn’t realize a foundation was being poured for a life in design. Ultimately, my tipping point was when I interned with the late Michael Tripoli during my senior year at John Burroughs School. Mike was a remarkable leader, a gifted and energetic designer, and a mentor to many designers of my generation. His enthusiasm and encouragement cemented my decision to pursue a design education and a career in the design profession.

What advice would you give clients?
Define “what” you seek to accomplish, but engage your design team to solve the “how”. You’ll be rewarded with inventive work.

What skill sets will be required of a creative in 2016? 
Listen to and care about the people around you. 

What kind of music do you listen to?
My default setting on streaming services is Josh Ritter who is tethered to artists such as Jason Isbell, Lucinda Williams, and numerous other singer-songwriters. However, if I could listen to only one artist while stranded on a desert island it would likely be John Prine who blends story, wit and humanity into his music in the way Paul Rand did into his design. 

What would you like to tell future designers?
Design purposefully and articulate meaningfully. Combine substance with style.

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