Graphic Design Journal
Inside the Creative Director Role – Occupational Interview
In the following interview, 63 Visual Creative Director Patrick Carter was asked to share some of his experience in his creative career path, including early life, education, building a business, and beyond.
What was your educational path?
I’m fortunate that I have always known I wanted to pursue graphic design as a career. This allowed me to take the appropriate educational path early on, such as taking drawing and art classes in high school, and efficiently choosing the right prerequisite classes as a freshman and sophomore in college. For college, I opted to get my AA at a community college as this was more affordable and was a bit easier to work full time while going to school. I took as many summer classes as possible as I was able to complete these more quickly. Once I had my AA I was able to enter the Graphic Design program at the University of North Florida and focus on earning my bachelors degree, a BFA in Graphic Design on 2005. I continue my education by participating in AIGA the Professional Association for Design, and using online programs, YouTube, and Google to learn new software and techniques.
Have you always been into art and design?
Yes, as I mentioned previously I have actually always known I wanted to be a graphic designer. This started at a young age when I loved drawing and coming books. This later developed as I evaluated the design of toy packaging and surfing magazines. When I was a teenager, I worked at an Office Depot copy and print center which allowed me to develop my technical skills, and I would help customers with their marketing projects, as well as make posters for local punk rock shows. All of this, while elementary, allowed me to develop my skill set at my own pace for my future career.
What does your typical work day look like, from waking to falling asleep?
Typically I will wake up around 7am and have coffee, check emails, and begin working from my home office. I prepare my kids for school, and once I take them I head into the gym for usually about 2 hours. The gym is near my office, so after the gym I will go into my office and work for the rest of the day – either until I get my kids, or if I have made arrangements for them to be picked up I will work until about 6 at the office. In the evening I will sometimes continue to work on projects or emails, and typically end the evening by watching a movie or a television show, or at times will meet friends for socializing.
Your company offers many different services, if you could pick one thing to specialize in, what would it be?
I really enjoy the flexibility and variety of working on lots of different projects. The services I offer focus on everything that is visually associated with a brand, including logo design, print design, web design, and more. I feel like if I only focused on one area it may get a bit boring to me. So I guess I could say I would focus on branding, but that is somewhat broad. 63 Visual is already a boutique brand development studio, but I suppose if I could focus on one segment it would probably be logo and apparel design.
What skills are critical for you to possess in order to succeed at your job?
It is important to me to have a wide skill set, since I take care of all of the necessary duties for my company. These skills include being task oriented, organized, disciplined, creative, and business minded (taxes, sales, bookkeeping etc.) In terms of creative skills specifically, these include a deep knowledge of typography, illustration, page layout, user interface design, and technological skills such as coding.
What are the best books you have read that relate to you and your career? (Or any thing else if you don’t read, podcast, talks, etc)
One of the greatest and most classic books I always recommend is “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. This is one of the most famous sales books of all time and has a lot of relationship building skills. A new classic in terms of graphic design is Aaron Draplin’s book “Pretty much Everything.” This is a really solid and impressive book of almost his entire portfolio up to the date of publishing. I am very into self help books, so I could go on and on about business and life skill books, but there are a ton of great ones out there. One of the most valuable assets I have found is attending design conferences and workshops that allow you to learn and build your skills while building new relationships with people in the industry.
What hobbies or projects do you do on your own time?
By far my favorite thing to do is surf, and to add onto that, internationally traveling for surfing. Other than that, I like to work out at the gym, ride my bike, and socialize with friends and family.
If you look back at your collection of work and the business you built, what is the thing you are most proud of?
I’d have to say it is the work I have done for Wicked Barley. The company approached me in about 2013, a couple of years before they opened, which allowed me to create their brand early on and I still work with them to this day. Basically anything that is related to their branding I have touched, and it’s really cool to see an entire brand working together in a cohesive way. They are a fantastic client that understands the importance of branding and we fully trust each other in a working relationship which is great.
What advice would you give someone one who wants to pursue a career in art and design?
I have a lot of advice to offer, but if I could offer one piece of advice it would be to get some type of formalized education in design, work very hard and make sure you are passionate in it, then obtain an internship and eventually a career at some type of design studio and advertising agency. The reason I suggest a path like this is it incrementally allows you to learn the skills and then apply them in a real world situation.
What role does social media play with your brand and do you use it to seek out opportunities?
I approach social media as one of those things that is just kinda there, but it is also necessary. It’s kind of like branding in a way in that you cannot totally quantify the value of it by numbers, but it does provide exposure and validates the company and the work. I primarily use Instagram which I find to be valuable for the design industry because it is primarily image based. It is very effective in curating relationships and staying top of mind for current and prospective clients. I actually recently deactivated my Facebook because I felt like it had less value for the type of work I do. Social media is definitely important though, and something that I don’t think should be ignored.
How do you keep track of jobs as they come in? How do you stay productive?
My bookkeeping software, Freshbooks, has been extremely important in this regard. It helps me manage invoices, estimates, expenses, clients, time tracking, taxes, and more. In terms of staying productive another tool that is necessary to my day to day work in a very simple todo list web app called “TeaxDeax.” This is where I add all of my projects and things I need to do in order to make sure I don’t forget anything. As soon as I have a task that needs to be done, I add it to this app to ensure it doesn’t fall through the cracks. Generally speaking I find it is best to be productive whenever inspiration strikes. I may not be productive all day everyday during the work week, but I will always be doing something in evenings and on weekends and holidays to ensure everything that needs to be done gets done.
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63 Visual Design Company
602 Shetter Avenue
Jacksonville Beach, Florida 32250
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