If you were in college in the late 80’s early 90’s, then you are old enough to remember some of the evolutions in technology that many of us take for granted today. The Macintosh computer, email, internet, compact disc, and desktop publishing were all in their infancy or were futuristic technology. At the same time, in an art college in Savannah, Georgia, my classmates and I created marker renderings on drafting tables to illustrate our designs. The color laser printer and computer were still not a practical tool for designers yet. Within three years of entering the professional world post-graduation, the world accelerated as computer programs, networks, and the internet replaced many of the traditional methods we all learned to use back at The Savannah College of Art and Design.
I believe that we were the lucky generation of designers. We were fortunate to have learned “the traditional” way before the world became digitized. The process of thumbnails, marker-comp, then mockup was a progressive one that provided us with many instances to refine, rethink, and develop a good idea into a great one. Today, because of tools like the Adobe Creative Suite and stock photography, designers can be tempted to skip the progressive process of old. One such designer who has never abandon that process is a former classmate of mine, Todd Gallopo.
Todd has built his career, design studio, and reputation on a foundation of clean, traditional processes, keeping true to his methods and keeping his mind open to be a continuous learner. He is a designer to the rock stars of our day. Check out his work on his design studio’s website at Meat & Potatoes Design and Branding. He has a Grammy Nomination for Best Recording Packaging, and as far as I am concerned, his entire body of work is award-worthy.
The Same But Different
I find it interesting that we both have similar career experiences and work processes, even though our careers took us in different directions. We both started our careers in big cities, found mentors who were willing to teach us, and the habits we learned in college provided us a foundation for success. It was great to catch up with Todd during his interview. I will not let thirty years go by again without speaking with him in person. It was stimulating to geek out with him when discussing typography, color, and design. If you have a friend or classmate you respect and appreciate like I do Todd, make sure you keep in contact with them, they can be a great source of inspiration and validation.
I think you will find some great takeaways in today’s podcast with Todd. Even if you are not a designer, the principles he discusses apply to any career path or industry. I know you will enjoy it.
After reflecting on my interview with Todd, here are the three action items you can put into practice today to help you get a good start:
Be Confident and Learn More: What you learn in college is just the foundation and a beginning to a lifetime of learning. Continuous learning is how you develop yourself and your craft every day. Start by exploring the roots of the industry or career you aspire to pursue. Learn the history of it and find someone who has a lifetime of experience doing it. Seek them out and ask them how they did it. Without much effort, you will add value to yourself by knowing “the ways it used to be.”
Ask For Feedback: I can think of no better way to improve than to ask others to critique my work. I can think of no scarier way to demolish my ego than to invite others to critique my work. Todd and I sat through many a college critique, and we both carried on that process into our professional careers. If you are searching for a job or shifting gears in your career, have others provide feedback on your resume, portfolio, or LinkedIn profile. It is the best thing you can do for self-improvement and to ensure the best information and examples of your work are appropriately communicated.
Reach Out: One valuable lesson I learned today is this: If you respect a classmate, make sure you keep in touch with them. Not just on social media (although that is a start,) give them a call. If you are still in college and have built valuable relationships with classmates, follow my advice. Create a recurring five-minute meeting in your calendar. This meeting is to remind you to call or reach out to them every two months or so. Even if you only shoot them a text or email to say hello. The relationship you have developed can be rewarding in the future, do not waste it.
Not all rock stars are on stage. Many are in the background grinding out the work, day in and day out. They follow time-test techniques and processes that are timeless. Find those rock stars in your career and learn from them. They will push you to be a better version of yourself. Todd is a rock star; that is why when a rock star needs something designed, they turn to him.
I appreciate feedback of all kinds, so please email me any questions or feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great week, and remember, it doesn’t take a lot to get a good start; you just have to start. Thank you.