Despite being born in Shreveport, Louisiana, I’ve lived all but the first two years of my life somewhere around the St. Louis area. I think I was a fairly normal kid, except I was always pretty curious. Curiosity began to generate a need to explore and analyze; I’ve always been driven to find out how the world works. I never really knew that design was for me when I was young. Quite frankly I cared a lot more about dogs and The Legend of Zelda than I ever did about typefaces, packaging, or beautiful signage. I’m pretty envious of the stories there are about design being a lifelong passion, or about young kids being encouraged to ask why things are made the way they are. Nonetheless, I’m extremely excited that I found a passion for it. I’m attracted to design because it’s so damned daunting. It’s like a 1,000 piece puzzle and I’m 4 years old again. I’m challenged every day and each challenge grants an opportunity to grow.
What’s your current position? What’s a typical day like for you?
As of now, I’m a senior level student in the middle of transitioning to a new internship. I’m both excited and entirely too confused to say that I’ll be graduating in May to earn my Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree with an emphasis in Graphic Design and a Web Design minor from Webster University (that’s a mouthful). Needless to say, things are crazy right now. A typical day is a mess of not eating enough, heading off to school to work on my studies, trying to surround myself with the other great designers in my class and spending just about the entire day there; sometimes just catching up on projects and other times I’m there for the conversation or critique that will happen inevitably. The best days are the ones that give me enough time to forget about projects and challenge my understanding of design through research. Top that off with spontaneous ping pong matches and a few cans of soda, then take away a few hours of sleep and you’ve got me in a nutshell.
How do you feel about working in St. Louis and the Midwest?
Excited. It seems like I’m making connections or learning something new about the design community here every week. When I began to ponder this question about a year or so ago, my answer would have been different—but my mentors have helped me to understand what a good thing we have going here. I think AIGA Saint Louis’ Design Week really started to open my eyes to this.
What’s the most satisfying part of any design project?
There’s this moment (it happens infrequently) in certain projects where inspiration hits pretty directly. Well, the most satisfying moment is just a few seconds after that—when you realize that something is absolutely going to work. It’s that triggered moment where you wouldn’t dare pull yourself away from your sketchbook or your mouse and keyboard.
Tell us about one project you remember the most, good or bad
A project doesn’t come to mind, but a confession does. When I was really—really—young and first started having the chance to scribble and spray paint the canvas of MS Paint I really adored Comic Sans…I guess I have to explain that. I used to enjoy rummaging through the typefaces on the system, especially when it meant encoding messages through Webdings and telling my brother to highlight them and see what it said in another typeface. When I wasn’t encoding messages I used the forbidden one because I thought Comic Sans was cool and playful, just like me. I used it on a lot of my scribbles. Don’t worry; I feel different now.
When was the first time you knew you wanted to work in design?
It was my senior year of high school. At the time I was exploring my passions and trying to figure out if higher education was even in my future. At first, I thought I wanted to pursue music, but I got it into my head that I could combine my passions of art and technology if I pursued graphic design. That assumption was pretty far off the mark, but I’m glad it made sense at the time. In my senior year I started spending each morning at a technical school that taught “Graphic Communications.” I quickly learned that design is a lot more than what I anticipated. From that moment on I was hooked.
What skill sets will be required a creative in 2016?
Although it’s not a skill, the best attribute for a creative today is hunger. You’ve got to keep looking at what’s next and how you can grow. As everyone knows, our world is becoming evermore digital. Instead of just adapting our skills to that, why not also look into how we can humanize contemporary design? Recently I’ve been infatuated with the processes of industrial designers. This breed of designer encompasses a lot of what I find to be important to design. Understanding the relationship between human and design and having a passion to learn will be key in the coming years.
What roles are in the ideal creative team?
All you need is a group of like-minded creatives from different backgrounds. A slew of amazing things can happen from there.
What kind of music do you listen to?
If I’m working on design or trying to be productive in general I’ve been gravitating towards El Ten Eleven. It’s a great band if you just need rhythmic ambience with just the right amount of inconsistency. Otherwise If I’m rocking out it’s probably Jack White or Weezer.
What would you like to tell future designers?
You’re starting on something great. There’s a lot of depth to this world. Welcome.
Connect with John
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