July Member of the Month: Corey Helling

Please tell us about your current position.
I am a Senior Art Director at FalkHarrison. I handle a little bit of everything, but the majority of my time is focused on illustration and branding.

What’s a typical day like for you?
My day officially begins when my daughter wakes up. We might eat some yogurt, watch a few Mickey Mouse shorts, or have a quick lightsaber battle before going our separate ways for the day. I get to the office around 8:30, grab some tea and begin nailing down my objectives for the day. Today, my goal is to knock out two editorial illustrations. Other days, I might be sketching logos, writing copy or making comps for a meeting. Every day is a little different.

How do you feel about working in St. Louis and the Midwest?
I’ve only worked here, but I can say that St. Louis seems to have a pretty incredible ecosystem in place for designers. We have brilliant educators who are teaching hard-working kids to create wonderful and meaningful things, who in turn inspire others to value design. It feels cyclical and natural. The talent here is just bonkers. Look at what Almanac and Cheree Berry Paper are cranking out. There’s obviously something working here.

What’s the most satisfying part of any design project?
This is so hard to explain, but for me it’s gotta be that moment when everything clicks. When a concept and its execution line up perfectly. When you look at something you’ve created and your mind goes completely silent with confidence because you realize you’ve made something that can speak on its own. When it doesn’t need you anymore. It’s definitely a moment that I, and probably most designers, don’t get to experience often because we work in the real world and it’s full of deadlines, budgets and opinions.

Tell us about one project you remember the most, good or bad.
There was a branding project I was the lead creative on. It was for a really demanding client. Emails were flying back and forth at all hours. I was at the office at all hours. Not getting up to pee. Kerning type at 1am. Hating everything I made. It was extremely stressful. I planned to quit almost every single day. For some reason though, I stuck with it and now that I’m able to look back, I realize that the entire process taught me so much that I’d probably go through it again if I had the chance.

When was the first time you knew you wanted to work in design?
I remember this pretty vividly. It was my second year in college. I was an elementary education major and they placed me into kindergarten class to do my student teaching. I walked through the doors of the school and immediately knew, this was not for me. It felt instinctual. So I went back and decided to focus on something I knew I was always good at — art. It wasn’t really a confident move, I kind of just stumbled into design and fell in love. I feel pretty lucky actually.

What skill sets will be required of a creative in 2016?
Execution and production skills matter, but I’d say the most important skills to have in 2016 are the same as they’ve always been. Know how to think and create differently. Know how to listen. Know how to defend your designs. Know how to ask questions. These are just fundamental skills I think any designer should have.

What kind of music do you listen to?
I tend to gravitate towards music with a good story — I like Andrew Bird, Alabama Shakes, Sufjan Stevens, Bahamas, Belle and Sebastian to name a few. Also — a good podcast. Radiolab is wonderful.

What would you like to tell future designers?
If there’s one bit of advice I would give, it would be to keep a perspective. Yes, design can change the world. But remember that there are people out there that are doing far more important things — saving lives, teaching our children, solving real crises. Try to be a part of that somehow.

View Portfolio Website: coreyhelling.com

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By AIGA Saint Louis
Published July 1, 2016
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