10 Questions: GO media

Location: Hartford
Duration: 10 years
Key Players: Chad Turner, Jameson Luasiewicz, Jason Cheshire, Steve Malloy
Key Clients:
UConn Athletics, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Hartford Restaurant Group, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Nutmeg State Federal Credit Union

When/how was the agency born? In 2004, Chad Turner and Jameson Lukasiewicz started GO media out of the spare room in Chad’s house. Chad being the designer at the time, and Jameson’s background being in sales, both had experience in marketing – it was a natural fit. Art Director Jason Cheshire had worked with them at the Hartford Advocate in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, so it’s probably safe to say the idea had been brewing for some time before 2004. Why do clients hire you and not another agency? There are plenty of great agencies out there. When someone hires us it’s because we’re the right fit. When our ideas gel with their goals and vision we get hired. Sometimes that’s not the case and that’s ok because, when that initial chemistry happens, it usually means we’re going to get along great on a personal level. That enhances the collaboration while keeping the stress to a minimum. What makes your process unique? We’re an open office. Meaning, there are no cubicles. We’re barely sectioned off into departments. And that’s how we collaborate. A good idea can come from anywhere and anyone at any moment. So having an open office encourages constant open dialogue. Plus, we believe there are no bad ideas, so everyone is encouraged to share their thoughts during a creative session. These small ideas can ignite something in someone else and it steamrolls from there. It has proven extremely effective for us. Why Connecticut? Chad and Jameson are both Connecticut natives. That sums it up. Describe your ideal client. Trusting. Open-minded. Knows the value of marketing and the work, time and effort it takes to produce the level of work they’re expecting. Describe your ideal employee/team member. Passionate to a fault with their only redeeming quality being talent. Right now we have to kick people out of the office at 8 and 9 o’clock at night. Practically pry them away from their computers with a crow bar. We don’t ever ask them to stay. They work hard because they’re passionate. We couldn’t ask for any more than that. How do you “give back”? We belong to a great small community; the Park Road District in West Hartford. We work, eat and live here. Therefore, we try to support it as much as we can. We’ve joined their committees and associations and try to contribute as much as we can to improving the neighborhood. Who are your favorite partners/vendors? We’ve been using a number of vendors for years now, even back to the Advocate days. Some here locally, some out of state. Having known them for so long makes it incredibly easy to get work produced. Where would you like the agency to be in 5 years? In 5 years, we probably don't want to be that much bigger. We’re a family now and we’re very careful whom we bring on board. We’ve been lucky, in the fact that we have some really great people here. If we can keep that streak going, wherever we are in 5 years will be a good place. What is unique about the culture of the agency? The physical space? The majority of us have never been involved with other agencies, so that makes us unique. We’ve figured out what works best for us as we’ve grown. And what works best for us is always being improved and refined. As far as the physical space - we’re dog friendly. We currently have a new golden retriever puppy in the office named Molly Jane and a few other dogs that visit periodically. We’ve built some of our own furniture to fit our space and we have a rooftop deck where, y’know, we like to have an occasional beer together.

10 Questions: Danny Mendoza

What do you do and where do you do it? I have a perfectly ambiguous title of Digital Creative at keiler in Farmington. It represents my desire to be involved in various projects, across multiple disciplines. But the majority of my time is devoted to art direction for interactive products. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? My family's support. I honestly feel that they would of been supportive of anything I set my mind to. The first time I considered advertising as a profession was in high school. I signed up for a technical program in my home town of Hollywood, FL. That's when reality set in that I could design and create things for a living. It gave my self-expression a focus. My father played head-hunter and I was working part-time at an agency my sophomore year. What makes me stay is the potential for creativity and the common need to do good work. What is your single favorite portfolio piece? It has to be the most uncommon. I worked with the Connecticut Sun WNBA team for several seasons. Aside from designing their secondary logo I had the privilege of designing their court. The actual court they play on, the greatest stage and honor possible outside of a mascot re-design. The process was unique. I was researching wood stains and looking at a lot of anamorphic type projects. Eventually I decided against the anamorphic stuff for the fear of inducing vertigo and nausea. I remember an overwhelming sense of disbelief until I saw the floor being painted. All that floor needs now is a championship banner hanging over it. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? Relevant. I hope that in 10 years businesses continue to see the need for good design and creativity every step of the way. Being positively optimistic, I would like to be celebrating the public launch of another service. Who/What are your biggest influences? The kind of work that makes you jealous and turns your stomach. What do you wish you did better? In terms of immediacy I wish I could code better. It's the one thing that holds me back from developing apps and services stored up in the cache. It would help cut that ten year plan down some. Imagine if coding became an industry-wide goal. What kind of services would we be able to dream up? Why Connecticut? Why not? It's a beautiful state. My wife and I decided to move up from Florida to be closer to her family. Seasonal changes are a plus. And professionally speaking, I've been really lucky to work with some of the best people I've ever met in the industry. It would have been great to work on the CT Tourism project and gotten to know the state better. Seeing that go out of state was the first time I felt insulted as a local. Still, I'm sure any agency in the state would have done a great job. Who are the best creatives you’ve worked with? Too many to name. But in the early days of my career I'd say I learned the most from David Stewart, when we worked together in Fort Lauderdale. David played the multidisciplinary game well with creative direction, design and illustration. His Peruvian ceviche was amazing too. Currently I work with an insanely talented, energetic, and resourceful bunch. I have a high level of respect for Lucas McHale's ability to view a project from unique points of view. That's the kind of thought process that erases blind spots and helps the work get better. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? I love my family and I'll never be able to properly express the sanity they provide. As for hobbies, I'm still window shopping. Fishing has its moments when I'm not filling a boat with bluefish. Photography matters more now with our son growing up fast. I love to cook and hate to ruin a meal so there's passion there. It's hard to stay outside of this field because of how symbiotic it is so I tend to include technology as a part of business. I like the possibility of producing something that improves life. Art and design can do great things for humanity but that layer of tech multiplies the effect. What do you know now that you didn’t know then? Technology is moving so fast, you could ask me this question every quarter of the year and get a different answer. I didn't know the industry would see so many new channels spring up, but I know we can't afford to ignore or become oblivious to them.

10 Questions: Bahador Pazoki

What do you do and where do you do it? I’m a Creative Director at Primacy, where I work with some of the most passionate and nicest people I’ve ever worked with. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? When I was growing up, my family moved around a lot… to different countries, cities, etc. It was tough making friends, so I would spend a lot of time drawing. I would copy the illustrations from these really cool encyclopedias from the ’60s. Ironically, it was those same drawings that helped me make new friends, since I couldn’t speak the language at that time. So I guess my inspiration to pursue art as a career came from an early age, where I realized that I could create something others would appreciate. That alone is a very rewarding feeling to keep anyone inspired. What is your single favorite piece in your portfolio? I love the work that I collaborated on with Catalyst Studios. It’s just simple work for a good cause. In a very small way, it might have helped someone achieve a better life. The guys at Catalyst are truly talented and a source of inspiration to me. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? I would love to have my own business in the next 10 years, or do something equally as courageous. I really admire people who take a chance at life and try to be something greater. My goal is to try and create an environment where other people can have the opportunity to contribute. I guess that can be achieved at a place of business or in the classroom. Who/What are your biggest influences? “Complexity is the lack of simplicity…” said Alex W. White, my college professor. He kept drilling that into our heads and he was ruthless. I didn’t like him much at the time, but I believe that he taught me some of the most valuable lessons that a designer can have. I find myself repeating a lot of his teachings to the people that I now mentor. What do you wish you did better? It’s funny, because I wish that I was less emotionally involved with my work, but then again, I feel that it’s the passion that makes me want to do better work. Why Connecticut? I’ve lived all over the World, but I’ve lived the longest period of my life here in Connecticut. It’s truly home to me. Besides, it comes down to creating good work and that’s always more important than the location of where it’s done. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? I’m currently working with some of the best creatives that I’ve ever worked with, but I have to also acknowledge Paulo Melchiori. He taught me a lot about the industry and he is one of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with. His best advice to me was to do work for myself. There is no one else who is going to be as critical about your work than yourself. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? As an art director, I’m always looking for new work that’s out there to inspire me. I’m finding new sources of inspiration in music and dance. It’s not even the music that I like, but the idea of how music can be such a powerful tool in what we want to communicate. Or how dance can help with editing techniques or styles. What do you know now that you didn't know then? At every stage of my career I think I have it figured out, only to find out later how very little I knew. I’m comfortable right now thinking the same thing, but I know that I’m probably wrong.

10 Questions: Tom Lewek

What do you do and where do you do it? I'm a Graphic Designer focusing on web/interactive, brand identity and collateral design. I work as a freelance Designer for groups like KRD, Digital Surgeons, Care Networks and other small agencies in the area, as well as a variety of companies and individuals around the world. I've also done work for Unilever, Edenspiekermann, Mastercard and a handful of exciting startups over the past 9 years. Currently I'm traveling the world with my wife Kathryn who is an opera singer, but we do have a home base in a quiet sea-side community in southwestern Connecticut. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? I've always been an artist, but getting into design was purely out of necessity — I have an Illustration degree, but soon after college realized how difficult it was to find consistent work. So I interned as a designer/graphic artist and quickly immersed myself in all things design to get up to speed. Come to think of it when I graduated from RIT, I rarely used a computer for my work. Things changed quickly. I instantly fell in love with type design and typography, and methodologies for working on the web. Design was a perfect fit — my inner geek gets excited about organization, processes and anything scientific or mathematic that can help create better outcomes. I stay in it because, for any designer worth their salt, it becomes not just a career but an obsession. There's no turning back. What is your single favorite portfolio piece? One of the first responsive web sites I designed while working at KRD was for author Jay McInerney. It's always a blast to work on another creative's site and especially so in this case since Jay is such an acclaimed novelist and a very public figure. There's so much personality we could inject into this project that can't be done with other sites. It's also my favorite because of the challenges we faced as a team, and the amount I was able to learn and grow as a designer in the process. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? I'd like to return just a bit to my artistic roots — drawing and painting, and creating more tangible art. Possibly design a typeface and write more often. I think the goal for me is always more creative freedom in whatever capacity that comes in. I'm certainly happy to be traveling the world just as I am now, and enjoying life. Who/What are your biggest influences? Designers like Michael Beirut, Erik Spiekermann, Jason Santa Maria and Jessica Hische — agencies like Paravel, Weightshift, Ptarmak and Happy Cog — type design studios like H&FJ, Mark Simonson, TypeTogether and HVD Fonts. What do you wish you did better? Design more efficiently in quicker iterations. Agonize less over the tiny details all of the time. Work harder on discovering creative and effective ways of communicating design ideas to others. Why Connecticut? I moved to Connecticut after my wife and I finished up college in Rochester, NY. She grew up here and I grew to love it for its proximity to the Long Island Sound, to NYC, to nature…along with its great history and energy. It fits our lifestyles perfectly. Who are the best creatives you’ve worked with? There have been many, and I've learned a tremendous amount from everyone I had the pleasure of collaborating with. If I had to pick one point in time that had a huge impact, it was shortly after college when I interned for Mark Brickey & Beth Manos at Hero Design Studio. Their work ethic is incredible and they set a great example for me when I was just starting out, of what a designer should be: energetic, passionate and out-spoken, witty, driven, with a love for both the art-side and the business-side of things. Mark and Beth are design entrepreneurs with personalities and attitude that you don't come across every day. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? Long-distance running, opera and music in general, cognitive psychology, history, and travel. I'm partial to Bret Easton Ellis novels, punk rock (and all of its sub-genres), and campy horror movies. What do you know now that you didn’t know then? How to better stay focused, optimistic and motivated amidst everything else going on — all of the distractions of life and the world around us. Overall, just being able to establish a good balance of work and life.

10 Questions: Rebecca Brayman

What do you do and where do you do it? I'm a graphic designer and currently freelancing. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? I had artistic tendencies from a young age and could always be found singing in school choirs, painting, taking photos or writing poetry. My path to graphic design took root as a teenager creating art with Adobe Elements and led to my first big project — a fan website for actor Hayden Christensen. It was mentioned in a New York Times article, which was very exciting and made me realize that my work could actually reach people. Design is an outlet conducive to my thought process as well as an emotional need to satisfy my curiosity and be a creator. What is your single favorite portfolio piece? My single favorite portfolio piece is Michele Boyd’s website design. Michele is an LA actress and web celebrity best known for her role as Riley in Felicia Day’s popular online web series, The Guild. She is also co-creator of Team Unicorn, a girl geek group who produce and star in their own web videos. I enjoy her work so I posted a redesign of her site on Flickr and she actually contacted me about implementing it! What I normally did for design exercise became a real project so this piece has become quite sentimental. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? I want to be happy, healthy, confident and still brave enough to be fearless. I’d also love to have a design studio with my sister who’s a very talented artist. We already have the name picked out. Who/What are your biggest influences? Nature, music, fine art, science, literature, emotions. Currently loving the work of Lana Del Rey, Charmaine Olivia, Eight Hour Day and The Darling Tree. What do you wish you did better? Web programming. This is something I plan to change over the next year. Why Connecticut? Besides the beautiful autumns here, Connecticut is where I grew up, went to college and developed many personal and professional relationships. It’s my home. Who are the best creatives you’ve worked with? Everyone I’ve worked with has been amazing, but I greatly admire Rena DeBortoli, Kathee Speranza-Ryan and Edvin Yegir. They helped me learn and grow during my design career so I’m very grateful to know them. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? I love to sing, write poetry, travel, practice yoga, play video games and eat lots of dark chocolate. What do you know now that you didn’t know then? To embrace my imperfections and fears. I may never be able to completely remove them, but I can control their influence to allow more positivity and freedom in my life.

10 Questions: Eva Weymouth

What do you do and where do you do it? I am the owner/art director/graphic designer at E.K. Weymouth Design. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? As a freshman in high school I loved all my art, sculpture, design and photography classes. My high school and college art teachers entered my work in design and scholastic art competitions. Forty design awards and twenty five years later I still love anything artsy. What keeps me in this profession is the joy of working with non-profits and foundations, and making life a little better. What is your single favorite piece in your portfolio? "Seasonal Sensations" is a promotional piece that I designed with illustrator Karen Boyhen; it contains rose petals, torn maps, lace fabric and seasonal recipes. The piece appeared in a hardcover art book entitled, “Designers’ Handbook of Booklets & Brochures.” I love the mix of different papers, textures, illustrations and found objects. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? I hope to still be doing some exciting design work, but I would like to expand the graphic design studio to include graphic and art installations. Art and design to complement business environments and their branding. I even have a welder in my garage for creating metal sculptures, with the help of my husband and design engineer Carl Weymouth. Who/What are your biggest influences? Local design influences included the work of Adrienne and Jeff of Pollard Design; they had once lived on the east side of Hartland, while I on the west. I also enjoy the work of Peter Good, Will Wondriska, and Sean Kernan. And I admire the pioneers of design, Ivan Chermayeff and Milton Glaser. What do you wish you did better? Letting go... There always seems to be one more concept I’d like to work out. Why Connecticut? Connecticut is a small state with some big talent. I live on six wooded acres in northern Connecticut. The nature is breathtaking and inspirational. Who are the best creatives you’ve worked with? I’ve worked with writer Rhea Hirshman, marketer Amy Robinson and photographer Gale Zucker for almost 20 years, along with many other independent, smart, talented and creative women. (And some men.) What are your loves/passions outside of this field? I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years; I have a passion for CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). I love growing, picking and cooking with organic foods. I was a community outreach coordinator/volunteer for 5 years as well as a political town committee member volunteer for 5 years. My greatest passion is being a mother to my wonderful 14-year-old son. What do you know now that you didn’t know then? An enthusiastic client makes for a successful project.

10 Questions: Response

Location: 9th Square, New Haven
Staff: 20
Duration:
11 years
Key Players: Managing Partner: Carolyn Walker; Partner: Paul Lavoie; VP Strategy: David Klineberg; Creative Director: Terry Lush; Director of Client Services: Kim DeMartino; Director of Technology: Bryan Bielefeldt; Teresa Dodson, Managing Director, Silicon Valley
Key Clients:
Logitech, McAfee, NETGEAR, Vudu, Stanley Black & Decker (brands include Stanley, Stanley Fat Max, BOSTITCH, DEWALT, Black & Decker, Porter Cable, and PROTO), Sportech (Winners), University of New Haven, Waterbury Hospital, WordLock

How was the agency born? Response was founded in 2002 by Peter Franz and Doug Conner with Stanley as the first client. In 2005, the founders brought on Carolyn Walker to head up the Sales and Marketing efforts for the agency. The agency steadily grew and acquired new clients including Logitech, BIC, Yale School of Medicine, Star Brand Imports, Pitney Bowes and Assa Abloy. Carolyn Walker was named Managing Partner in 2007 and in 2009 purchased the agency from the founding partners and brought on Paul Lavoie as partner. Since 2009, the agency has grown from 5 team members to our current staff of 20 and we have acquired many new clients, including McAfee, NETGEAR, Vudu, WordLock, Sportech, University of New Haven, Waterbury Hospital, Westerly Hospital, Cisco, and Yale University. Why do clients hire you and not another agency? Our strategic, creative and account services are just as good as or better than any IPG, Omnicom, WPP or Publicis agency for a fraction of the cost. What makes your process unique? We don’t necessarily have a unique process, but we do have incredibly talented people with unique ideas that deliver great results. What we focus on is delivering a “great experience” to our clients. For each client a “great experience” means different things, however these are just a few tenants of getting it right: • We communicate well with our clients. • We immerse our team in our clients’ business. • We get things done quickly. • We build long lasting relationships. • We work well with other partners and agencies. • We are strategic. • We are focused on delivering results. Why Connecticut? We are from here. We also think that being in Connecticut allows us to better compete with the “big boys” in NYC and Boston — because our clients don’t have to pay for an expensive rent, just great talent. Describe your ideal client. To describe our ideal client is to look at our current clients, like Logitech, McAfee, NETGEAR, Vudu, and Stanley Black & Decker. These are all companies that are progressive, innovative, value-minded, smart, creative and appreciative. Our clients have become great partners and friends to us. Describe your ideal team member. We are a small team, so hiring the right people is critical. They have to fit in with the culture here. Our most successful team members are those that are self-starters, not afraid to raise their hand if they need help, creative, egoless, fun, appreciative, smart, and confident. How do you “give back”? We give back in many ways. We’ve partnered with the United Way of New Haven in a program that supports local education programs. We are highly active within the GNHCC (Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce). We also hire interns from many local universities, including University of New Haven, Quinnipiac, and Yale. Who are your favorite partners/vendors? We have worked extremely hard over the past 10 years to find the right strategic partners. These partners, like Mediassociates, PCL, RTO, and others are ones that have values and a work ethic that is similar to ours. Where would you like the agency to be in 5 years? We have spent the last year putting the right people in place to grow our mobile (creative and programming/development) and video services (creative, production and syndication). So, we see ourselves leveraging our internal talent and being a much bigger player in both of these spaces. What is unique about the “culture” of the agency? The physical space? We are on the top floor of the old New Haven Water Company building, which was built 110 years ago (1903). It is a great, creative space with exposed brick walls, huge wood beams and original wide plank floors. We’ve invested in the space with many renovations that have really made it ours. You just have to see it to appreciate it. We love it here and believe it is a true reflection of who we are…collaborative, creative, innovative, smart, and fun!

10 Questions: Madison|Mott

Location: Westport
Staff: 9
Duration:
13 years
Key Players: Luke Scott and Kristen Briner
Key Clients:
Bahlsen, Greenfield Partners, HobNob Wines, 20 Years Younger, Yale West Apartments, Curve, Yale School of Music  

When/how was the agency born? In the early hours of March 1st, 1999, without an epidural. Why do clients hire you and not another agency? We think clients tend to hire us because we listen. That and we really care. Sometimes too much. It’s more than branding, design, and marketing. It’s what we do, what we create, for a living. What makes your process unique? Our people make our process unique. Lots of agencies have slightly tweaked versions of similar processes. Not to say that we didn’t work hard to define our approach. But the truth is that any human process is only as good as the humans behind it. We have really really good humans. Why Connecticut? Obsessed with Nutmeg. Kidding. I’m a native, which made tons of sense back when we opened, and even more now.We really dig this place: the shoreline, the access to New York. I love Westport, where I work, and Bridgeport, where I live. These two distinctly different locales represent the breadth of Connecticut’s character; of its geography, people, and opportunity. Describe your ideal client. Done via email from said client: “Hello, we’d like to hire you based on your stunning reputation, and are willing to pay handsomely if you agree to coddle and build our baby brand into a grown-up.” Ideally, we want folks to hire us because they like our work and trust us with their business. We prefer clients who aren’t afraid to let the leash out a bit. Describe your ideal employee/team member. Done via email from said ideal employee: “Dear Luke and Kristen, I took the liberty of pushing a few active projects through the pipeline this weekend. Don’t mind the tent, on the patio. I’ll move back home once the pitch is over. I also wanted to take a moment to thank you for this wonderful job opportunity. In this day and age, it is rare to find an employer who affords such creative latitude, while covering an inordinate amount of my health insurance. P.S. I stocked the fridge and took out the recycling. Best, Your Star Employee” How do you “give back”? We work with a bunch of non-profits, and believe our best contributions are made by using the skills that we have to offer other people and organizations. We’re in the process of completing a new website for the Westport Arts Center. Who are you favorite partners/vendors? We have a bunch of vendors who are more like partners—a bunch right here in Connecticut. They always follow through and treat our clients like gold. Those are the ones we have worked with for over a decade and will continue to hire. Where would you like the agency to be in 5 years? Right where it is now, physically. As for the rest of it? We’d be happy to double our size, by adding more dream clients and star employees. (If you’re either one, and are reading this, it is most certainly fate and you should email fate@madisonmott.com.) What is unique about the culture of the agency? The physical space? We have a brand new space that really matches our culture. White walls and shiny floors meet chalkboard paint and old typewriters meet big windows and a ping-pong table. Then there are those really really good humans. Basically, it is fun to come to work everyday. Not sure how many people get to say that, but I’m glad to be one of them.

10 Questions: Cheney & Company

How was the agency born? I was working at Choate Rosemary Hall, a boarding school in Wallingford, CT, as director of communications at a time when public relations was run out of a box of 3 x 5 cards, and we made mechanicals with a mat knife, Rapidograph pens and waxer. After four years on the job, the shop was running fine. I saw there were lots of other schools and nonprofits without internal p.r. capabilities, so I decided to start Cheney & Company to help them become more professional. That was 1983. Why do clients hire you and not another agency? We consistently deliver award-winning work that yields results in student recruitment, philanthropy and good community relations. They like the fact we are well established and have a lot of experience with nonprofit organizations. The center of our universe is the project, not the profit. We’re smart, and we’re fun. What makes your process unique? Lots of listening and discovery. We are a bridge between our clients and their intended constituencies; we advocate on behalf of the target audience to open up a dialog that makes clients look fabulous and gets their point across in print and electronic communications that mirror their cultures. Why Connecticut? My ancestry. I am the 11th generation Cheney to live and work in the state. Our clientele is national, well actually, international (if you count Bangkok, Tokyo, Copenhagen and London). I moved to New Haven from Houston as the perfect equidistant spot between Boston and New York, and I have never regretted that decision. Describe your ideal client. A discerning, well organized, realistic, collaborative, friendly strategist who likewise is smart, fun and a good listener. Staying on schedule is a noble quality, too, along with viewing us as allies. Describe your ideal employee/team member. My entire crew is awesome — all self-starters with complementary and overlapping skill sets and lots of integrity. What they can do so well is zero in on and tell stories that illuminate the distinctiveness of our client institutions through imaginative presentations of editorial and visual content. These qualities and attributes are largely intangible, presenting a major creative challenge. They understand how to balance pure out-of-the-box and the practical limitations of budget and deadlines. How do you “give back?” I teach, present, mentor, coach, write books and articles, critique, network and serve on committees. Lately my biggest commitments have been to the National Association of Independent Schools, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools, the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce. I served three terms as a trustee of my college and two terms as president of the Alumni Association. Who are your favorite partners/vendors? Mohawk Papers, and our competitors — there’s room in the field for everyone, and it’s a generous profession, lots of sharing. Our favorite venue is The Study at Yale, where we hold our annual summer conference Aim High. We’re nuts about Tom Ahern and his online branding newsletter. And both how-to and inspirational resources include MarketingProfs, A List Apart, UMagazinology, Cram Quarterly — newsletter of GCF (Greatest Creative Factor), Draft — a NYTimes series about the art and craft of writing, and Future Fundraising Now. Where would you like your agency to be in five years? Celebrating our 34th birthday having survived several revolutions in the industry and signaling the fact that the nation’s independent schools are still in business and turning out amazing generations of great leaders. What is unique about the “culture” of the agency? The physical space? We are a team of women juggling work and home. Cooking, gardening, volunteering, hiking and reading are favorite avocations. We like having our pets in the office. We love occasional silliness and a good laugh. We inhabit a landmark historic building dating to 1816 on the west bank of the Quinnipiac River in old New Haven. What’s not to love about a combination of hand-hewn beams and new HVAC with a beautiful river view? If you want to see King’s Block and learn more about it, read the incredible history written by one of our college interns.

10 Questions: ZAG Interactive

Location: Glastonbury
Staff: 25
Duration:
10 years
Key Players: The entire ZAG team
Key Clients:
LAZ Parking, Arizona Department of Transportation, Open Solutions, Inc., MetroHartford Alliance, Conning & Co., HealthTrax, Consumers Credit Union  

How was the agency born? I left corporate America in 2002 to become a freelance developer because I wanted a sense of fulfillment in my life that was missing. I was a one-man shop and then brought on contract developers in 2005. In 2007, I worked with a very talented friend of mine who really helped me develop process and a foundation for future growth. That is when we made the switch from a group of contractors to bringing in the first full-time employees. As the company grew, I realized I couldn’t continue to develop websites while also running the business; I hired additional talented people in 2010 so I could focus on growing the business. Why do clients hire you and not another agency? Because we care, we are honest, we are highly responsive and we deliver. We own our mistakes and we learn from them and share the good and the bad with the client, taking responsibility and truly developing relationships that are long-lasting. Every client is a reference for us. When a company that’s considering hiring us hears the type of reference our clients provide, it’s extremely valuable. What makes your process unique? Plain and simple, it’s our people. Don’t be fooled — all agencies have a similar process. It’s the people that make it unique. When you hire the best people, you get the best results. Why Connecticut? I was born and raised here. I want to stay close to family. And because I still believe the Patriots are coming, even with their new stadium in Foxborough. Plus, where else could you get taxed so much? Describe your ideal client. It’s a client that knows what they want or knows what they don’t know and puts faith and trust in our abilities to work together. And it’s a client that understands digital is one piece of a comprehensive business strategy for their company that encompasses all of the vital components…marketing, SEO, user experience, et al. All of this makes for a highly collaborative engagement with the client. Describe your ideal employee/team member. That’s someone who checks their ego at the door and brings an assertive personality ready to solve challenging problems and do good work. The person is creative in a variety of ways, takes pride in their work and commits to melding with the culture we’ve created here. How do you “give back”? From a client’s perspective, we do pro bono web development work for non-profit organizations. From an employee standpoint, we engage in a lot of extra-curricular team-building activities that often involve Sam Adams (the beer, not the Founding Father… unless we’re reading the Declaration of Independence to celebrate the Fourth of July). Who are you favorite partners/vendors? Without question, it has been Sitefinity (made by Telerik), which is an enterprise-level content management system that we have built hundreds of websites on. They have been highly supportive of us and a major factor in our growth. Where would you like the agency to be in 5 years? The business plan is to grow appropriately and maintain a sustainable business model that allows everyone to lead a family-friendly, flexible lifestyle and provide for the future. We want a scalable company that continues to do great work and provide excellent service. What is unique about the culture of the agency? The physical space? Hands down, it’s the people. I’d like to think I’m skilled at bringing together the right mix of people and personalities, but that’s just my ego. It’s truly the individuals who have agreed to join ZAG Interactive. I have to say we have a group of the most talented professionals that I have known, with great senses of humor, and there’s a feeling of familiarity and connection that goes beyond the actual number of years that we’ve known each other collectively. Honestly, I didn’t know it was possible to work with such an amazing group of people. As for the space, well, we are again outgrowing the space… need more, but that’s a good problem to have.

10 Questions: silver creative group

Location: South Norwalk
Staff: 9
Duration:
9 years
Key Players: Paul Zullo, Donna Bonato
Key Clients:
UCONN, Ajinomoto, TF Cornerstone, F.D. Rich, Torie & Howard, Inergetics  

How was the agency born? bonatodesign + Zullo Communications = silver creative group. After 3 years of hiring each other’s services, Donna and Paul decided to take a leap of faith and merge the two businesses. It worked so well that an engagement and a wedding soon followed. Together, they really embody silver creative’s tagline: where strategy meets design. Why do clients hire you and not another agency? Well, I suppose it’s all about the company we keep. Clients keep coming back—some for 10+ years—because they trust us to understand their business and appreciate our dedication to delivering results. We do our thing, and then they brag about the traffic to their sweet new website or the positive response to an innovative marketing campaign and tell their friends to call us. Then the whole process begins again. What makes your process unique? Results, results, results. We start designing with conversion rates in mind, while also portraying a unique brand image. This keeps ahead of the game every time. Why Connecticut? Two words: Lobster. Truck. Connecticut gives us access to two markets for the price of one. Fairfield County offers us the proximity to New York City with the opportunity to tap into a whole other area: the Stamford/Norwalk region. We’re able to serve local, regional, national, and international clients all from one spot. Ultimately, we want to have fun when we aren’t hard at work, and South Norwalk is a great community. It’s like a mini-Brooklyn, but with it’s own unique panache...and maybe fewer hipsters. Describe your ideal client. Our ideal client needs help selling something and has a brand that needs a little (or a lot) of attention. We also want to work with clients at multiple marketing touch points; they need a website and a packaging design, a product launch strategy and a trade show booth, or often a complete brand overhaul. Describe your ideal employee/team member. The creative process is all about proactively throwing out ideas. We want our employees to be comfortable with adding their input to brainstorming sessions, even if they’re wacky and outrageous. Anyone who shines in that type of environment is welcome at silver creative. Also, major props if they are in a band, are dating someone in a band, or have some tangential connection to a band. Really, anything related to performing music will impress us. How do you “give back”? We enjoy donating our creativity and talents to a number of causes close to our hearts, including pro bono work for the Dravet Syndrome Foundation and Human Services Council of Fairfield County. It’s enriching and uplifting, plus brings smiles to many. Who are your favorite partners/vendors? Google Analytics has become an important tool for us, as has MailChimp, WordPress BigCommerce, and HootSuite. We’re using some combination of these on a daily basis. We’ve also had the same printing vendor for 20 years, Louis Cocozza from Imperial Graphics. It’s top-notch printing, over-the-top customer service, and access to copious amounts of Bad Louie’s Fudge, which is reason enough to work with Louis. Where would you like the agency to be in 5 years? Planning the launch party for our brand new New York City office! We’d love to grow the company and have a presence in a number of amazing real estate markets like San Francisco, Miami, Toronto, maybe even Bologna. But we’d also like to expand our in-house capabilities, too. Adding to our web design department and developing mobile apps for clients are top priorities for the near future. What is unique about the “culture” of the agency? The physical space? We’re defined by our creativity and openness. When we start working on a project, the entire team is immersed into the creative process and expected to participate. Every member adds something as we turn our ideas into a finished product. We can all celebrate in the successes because everyone has played a part in the creation. Being in South Norwalk also adds what silver creative is all about. We can get out of the office if necessary (like when the A/C broke for an entire week this summer), walk around, and let the diverse, historic environment inspire us. Or we can just go to a bar and start drinking or sketch some ideas on napkins.

10 Questions: Cipher Creative Group

Location: Berlin
Staff: 3
Duration:
8 years
Key Players: Chris Hyde, Richard Uccello, Lane Cooper
Key Clients:
Dscoop, Middlesex Hospital, Trinity College, Appleton Paper, Capital Workforce Partners

How was the agency born? I had always wanted to run my own firm, following in the footsteps of mentors of mine, Peter Good and Ted Bertz. Early in my career I thought there was a need to better understand the “business” side of design. I received my MBA in marketing and added experience at small and medium size agencies to round out my experience at design firms. The birth of Cipher Creative coincided with the birth of my younger son. It just felt like the right time to get out there and pursue my dream and begin to build a design firm that attempted to ask different questions when approaching clients’ projects. Why do clients hire you and not another agency? Anything I say here is going to sound pretty cliché, but I’ll do it anyway. I think we listen well. I always say I’m like Columbo from the old TV series. He had a habit of always asking “one more question.” There is no way that we can have too much information before attempting to solve a client’s problem. Even if a client asks for a discrete deliverable, we offer up what they’ve asked for in addition to several alternatives, even if it becomes an exercise just for us. It makes us feel as though we’ve done the right thing for the project. I think our clients appreciate that. The question is, does that answer the question of why they hire us, or why they stay with us? Let me try to answer it again in bullet form: • I think generally we’re as straight-forward and genuine as you can be. Couldn’t be slick if we tried. • Our past work is attractive and shows strategic thinking. • We are fast and show that we can work across most media. What makes your process unique? I’d love to say we have some patented system for how we develop our work. Once again, we listen, ask lots of questions and proceed to deliver a wide variety and quantity of solutions to marketing challenges. Not really unique in a true sense of the word, but unique in that many in our industry may not be doing this. Why Connecticut? Born and bred here. Want my kids to know their grandparents. Describe your ideal client. When I refer to a “client” I’m talking about the person and people at the organization, not the organization itself: honest and genuine, a partner in the process, willing to listen to new ideas, consistent, net 30. Describe your ideal team member. Honest, fast, willing to takes risks and fail miserably and then try again. How do you “give back”? Pretty funny how that’s the toughest question out of all of these. For our clients: I use their product or give to their cause. For the design community: I hire interns and attempt to teach them something. For the community I live in: I don’t ride a loud motorcycle or run my snowblower before 6 am. Who are your favorite partners/vendors? The ones that are actually partners, not order takers. You know who you are. Where would you like the agency to be in 5 years? I would love to have more internal capabilities and personalities: increasing our Q-factor (read Imagine by Jonah Lehrer where he talks about Brian Uzzi’s research.) What is unique about the “culture” of the agency? The physical space? Boy, I hate the word unique. Hey, for right now it’s just three guys who eat copious amounts of sushi and drink lots of coffee and try new things as often as we can. And we hereby claim to be the Connecticut-based agency with the best ping-pong skills.

10 Questions: Gabardine

Location: Westport
Staff: 8
Duration:
4 years
Key Players: Peter Leeds, Principal, President / Keith Hensel, Principal, Executive Creative Director
Key Clients:
Eastern Land Management, Porsche, Sotheby's, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Tagetik, Education Through Music

How was the agency born? August 2008. Peter was on the brand side, and his internal creative team was cut. He came up with Gabardine and the idea of a continuous thread of creative that's woven across online and offline communications to help strengthen brand fabric. Keith, who had his own design studio, joined almost a year later and they started doing the kind of work and running the kind of agency they thought about back when they first met at Modem Media more than a decade earlier. Why do clients hire you and not another agency? "'Cause they like the cut of our jib." They appreciate the fact that we've got these strong brand and agency backgrounds and are applying our collective knowledge to improving — some even say demystifying — the agency experience. We're straightforward and plainspoken. We don't overcomplicate things. We're focused on doing great work, work that has creative integrity and makes a real impact with audiences and in markets that matter. We work smart. We work fast. And we don't cut corners. What makes your process unique? Not much. We don't have an account management team, but that may change soon. When/if it does, though, the way we work won't be fundamentally altered; it'll just be that much more effective in serving the needs of our clients. The point, however, is that it's not process that makes Gabardine unique. It's people, and the way they apply the process day in and day out. Why Connecticut? Its proximity to NYC's business and culture, and distance from its madcap pace, is a perfect combination for a creatively driven company. It's also ideally positioned to serve those companies that have removed themselves and their people from the New York and Boston rat races and want to work with agencies that are more about substance than style. Describe your ideal client. Intelligent. Decisive. Collaborative. Experienced. Describe your ideal employee / team member. Not much different from our ideal client, really. Funny, huh? How do you "give back"? We frequently do work at low- or no-cost for charities and nonprofits. It's called 'The gift of Gab.' Who are your favorite partners/vendors? Alliance Video & Post: A talented audio/video team that bends over backwards to make sure work looks professionally finished. Tango Modem: A great, low-cost offshore development resource that actually understands online marketing (as opposed to simply how to build inventory control applications). RTO: Print brokers. Super knowledgable and extraordinarily well connected. Willing and able to help with everything from a box of business cards to multi-million piece runs. Where would you like the agency to be in 5 years? Still headquartered in Westport, or thereabouts, with a satellite or two so we can get even closer to clients who need more TLC. Known not only for marketing creative, but for creative product that solves real-world problems in beautiful, usable ways. Reveling in the knowledge that we successfully scaled the business without compromising the culture. What is unique about the "culture" of the agency? The physical space? 'Real. Creative.' It means that we're secure in who we are and what we do, and don't need to put on airs or act like prima donnas to prove that we're creative. It also means that we don't subscribe to antiquated notions of how an agency should run, like all-nighters and political drama. Our people all have lives and we've found that they work better, harder and more efficiently if they're allowed to live them. We're real people, coming up with real creative solutions in ways that really work.

10 Questions: Triple Frog

Location: Middletown
Staff: 6
Duration:
5 years
Key Players: Stacey Dyer/Creative Director, Steve Varjabedian/Interactive Director
Key Clients:
A Little Imagination Cakes, Community Health Center, Inc., Kra-ze Vodka Liqueurs, Norwich Free Academy, Oddfellows Playhouse

How was the agency born? While working on a new business pitch for the agency I was at previously, Steven Varjabedian (now partner and interactive director of TF) was busy building websites for a Fortune 500. In the midst of a work-related rant, he said, “You’re getting pretty good at that. Instead of being frustrated doing it for other people, we should think about creating our own company.” And so the design arm linked with the website arm and off we went to build an agency and a client base of our very own. That was the winter of 2006. In the spring of 2007, I left my ad agency job for the explosive start to what is now Triple Frog. We rode the bursting bubble of the economy and here we are, still making strategic art, five years later. Why do clients hire you and not another agency? Our client relationships begin with a down-to-earth approach that offers as much transparency as it does personality. We reach out to people and companies we want to work with, and we pride ourselves on putting our hearts behind the creative strategies we deliver. If we don’t believe in the product or the organization’s mission, how can we truly make great art? Once a client is on board, they come to understand our true point of differentiation – design is paramount to everything else. Regardless of medium, our first priority is to create a brand (or assets for a brand) that has the flexibility to speak across all platforms while targeting specific audiences. What makes your process unique? As a small shop with our singular account executive, our process stays simple and efficient. There’s one point of contact for the client and the creative team and we opt for email as a “paper chain” rather then unnecessary forms and folders. Additionally, we enjoy getting our clients involved in the creative process by inquiring about relevancies to the business as well as personal facets that may lend to the fundamentals behind the brand (colors, iconography, etc.). Why Connecticut? It’s where I grew up and where I went to college. I didn’t always intend on staying here, but as I matured in my life and in business ownership, I came to love the diversity of the companies in the state and surrounding areas. Where else can you find the headquarters of PEZ, Xerox, and Stanley Tools in one spot? Describe your ideal client. An organization with multifaceted needs and a common theme. An opportunity to create a brand that grows into a mobile site, which becomes a desktop website, then extends into packaging and is supported with advertising, promo gear and event graphics. We love pushing the boundaries of the physicality of a brand. Describe your ideal team member. The talent of an artist, professionalism that is just as edgy as it is buttoned up, a great sense of humor, and organized. How do you "give back"? While we budget annually to donate time and funds to a few non-profits of our choice, we recently took this love one step further in creating a website called Guilty For Good. This allows people to acknowledge an every day guilt and put a few coins into the karma piggy bank while reinvigorating a non-profit through smaller donations (and having some snarky fun with charitable giving). Additionally, as an alum of the University of Hartford, we engage in constructive, discussion-based group visits from the Professional Practices class at the Hartford Art School on an annual basis. Who are your favorite partners/vendors? The best vendors are those who are just as realistic and professional as we are. We love working with vendors that make it more about collaboration and less of a “tell me what you need and I’ll get it for ya” situation. Where would you like the agency to be in 5 years? On the same path its been on for the past 5 years, which means continuing to scoop up talented people for our internal team, particularly building our programming department, adding new, interesting clients to our roster and putting out work that we can proudly stand behind. What is unique about the "culture" of the agency? The physical space? We begin every day with a morning meeting called “Scrum” around 8:30am. This allows us to go through the responsibilities for each team member and address any questions or concerns prior to beginning the work. The other side of Triple Frog’s culture is maintaining a damn good sense of humor throughout the day. We all buckle down when we have to, but nothing is better than 3pm comedy hour for us. In terms of our office space, we are in the attic of an old mill in Middletown with stress bars diagonally shooting down from the roof every 8 feet or so. Large windows on either side, lots of light, and large hand-painted lettering in the main creative area. We do lunch family style most days and encourage brain breaks, which usually lead to walking to the store for sugar of some kind in the middle of the afternoon.

10 Questions: Nick Paradise

What do you do and where do you do it? I am Interactive Art Director at The Pita Group in Rocky Hill, where we strategize, design and implement web, interactive and animation projects for a wide range of clients. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? I have always been artistic, but the graphic influence of the skate and snowboard industries made me realize that there was an actual profession here that interested me. I started off as a print designer but quickly discovered interactive, motion and 3d design; it's these challenges that keep me on my toes and wanting to learn and create more each day. What is your single favorite portfolio piece? This is a tough question, I have fallen in love with lots of projects. I suppose the Don't Surf Nude Dude game microsite for McAfee. I really enjoyed the challenges this project brought to the table, the opportunity to combine interactive design, 3D character modeling, rigging and animation and motion design all in one project. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? Ten years from now I most likely will have started my own agency, focused around interactive and motion design. At least that's the dream. Who/What are your biggest influences? There are a handful of smaller national agencies that continue to push the interactive and motion space. I love seeing what they come up with. What do you wish you did better? Programming and mathematical relationships associated with it. I think, specifically, I wish I had a more comprehensive understanding of javascript. Why Connecticut? I was born and raised in Connecticut, left for a few years and realized it is definitely the place I want to live and raise my family. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? The folks at the Pita Group and Fathom, Matthias Palme, Scott Jones and Ben Roberts. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? My wife, our four boys and nature. What do you know now that you didn't know then? A bunch, but there is still a ton I want to learn.

10 Questions: Ryan O’Rourke

What do you do and where do you do it? I do freelance illustration for a vast array of editorial, book, institutional, and advertising clients. I also teach design and illustration at The Hartford Art School and The New Hampshire Institute of Art. I work out of a studio in my condo in East Windsor. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? I decided I wanted to be an illustrator my junior year in college. I had a couple of professors in the profession that were a huge influence on me. They introduced me to a number of artists that shared a common thread with the style I was developing. To this day, the initial artists they showed me are still some of my biggest influences. They made me excited to get into the field. I've stayed in illustration because I love it and I think its something that I'm good at. Ever since I started working as a professional, quitting has never been an option. I decided I was going to find some way to make it work. Also, being 5'11, a career in the NBA was a longshot. What is your single favorite portfolio piece? I've been really proud of the work that I've done over the past 2-3 years. I've learned a ton about digital techniques and printmaking techniques. One of the pieces that was a big jumping off point was the first poster I did for Antiques Roadshow. It started me on a new process of working that I've been using ever since. Working on it was a total headache but the learning experience was invaluable. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? I want to have a full-time position teaching illustration at a college in the Northeast, I want to be illustrating 2-3 books per year while also doing a good amount of editorial, institutional, and advertising jobs. Who/What are your biggest influences? I'm influenced by tons of illustrators and fine artists. My biggest influences in no particular order are Lane Smith, Mary Blair, Jim Flora, Chris Buzelli, Ben Shahn, Mark Ulriksen, and Gary Kelley. I'm always on the lookout for new sources of inspiration. What do you wish you did better? Where do I start? I wish I was a better painter, I wish I could draw better, I wish I was more handy, I wish I was better with type, I wish I could hit a golf ball straight... Too many things to mention. Why Connecticut? My wife and I are both very close with our families. Most of our family members are in Connecticut so it's been hard to leave. Regardless, I've always loved Connecticut. The close proximity to New York and Boston is nice and I've made a lot of great friends here. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? I've worked with some great art directors that I've developed lasting relationships with, including Merideth Harte at Sterling Publishing and Diane Earley at Charlesbridge Publishing. At the Hartford Art School, Mark Snyder has been one of my biggest supporters. Mark's a fantastic designer and terrific teacher. I've had the pleasure of working with Mark on a few projects. He has an incredible eye for good design. I'm continually amazed by Mark's generosity with his students and friends. I've met some amazing artists through my MFA in illustration program at the Hartford Art School. Program Chair Murray Tinkelman has introduced me to a ton of new influences. Another important connection I've made is Illustrator and NHIA Chair of Illustration Jim Burke. Jim's an amazing artist and has been a huge supporter for me as an educator and an illustrator. His friendship and professional guidance has been invaluable. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? I love movies, music, and sports. I love basketball, I play 3 to 4 times a week, it definitely helps me keep my sanity. I'm also obsessed with Boston sports teams. Part of my daily routine is to check out Boston.com to see whats going on with the the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots, and Bruins. Hopefully by the time this comes out the Patriots will have just won another Super Bowl. What do you know now that you didn't know then? I guess I didn't know how much of my life would be devoted to being an artist and educator. It's definitely not a 9-5 job, it's something that I'm always thinking about and working on. It kind of makes it hard to have a lot of hobbies but its definitely all worth it.

10 Questions: Karen Stevenson

10 Questions: Karen Stevenson

What do you do and where do you do it? I do print and web design, as well as dabble in photography, for my own company, Thumbnail Designs. That's the technical answer. In truth, I create stuff all day long, usually still wearing my pajamas, in my cute nook of an office off my living room. As for location, I'm in the process of transitioning from Lyme to New London — a big change, but I am loving this small city! What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? You know, my journey to becoming a designer was a complete surprise to me every step of the way. I just kinda fell into it. I went off to UConn as an economics major (whatever was I thinking?) and quickly realized that it wasn't for me. I dropped that class sophomore year and enrolled into a photography class "just for fun". Well, that led me deeper into the School of Fine Arts where I stumbled into "computer graphics" as it was called at the time. From there, well, I just fell in love with it. Fast forward to today and I can't tell you how thankful I am to have found design and art in general. I was inspired by my Dad at a very young age to find a job that I loved. He loved his work so much that he couldn't wait for Mondays... I think I still enjoy my weekends a little too much, but I certainly don't dread Mondays. I love what I do -- what more reason would I need to keep doing it? What is your single favorite portfolio piece? Everyone's least favorite question, right? Every creation is special because you've put your heart and soul into it. But, I have one that reaches a higher level than the rest. I've started a fundraising project — The Shelter Me Project — to help homeless animals. I photograph the animals at the eight different shelters/rescue organizations I'm working with, and then put together a calendar to sell (with all proceeds donated to the shelters). This project is rooted so deep within my heart that nothing could compare to it. Not only do I love taking the photographs and designing the calendar, but it goes beyond that — I love giving back. It's an amazing feeling to take a skill you have and use it towards helping someone else — it warms the soul. So, while I am really proud of the final calendar each year, it really helps me as much as I am helping them — maybe more. How could this not be my favorite portfolio piece? What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? Simple answer: Happy and still creating. Complex answer: I hope to have my own house in few years (here in New London, near the beach), with a studio space that inspires. Not only do I still want to be designing for Thumbnail Designs, but I hope to have the time to branch out into other creative mediums — like the letterpress machine I own that's been collecting dust. I want to be gardening, too, which means I have 10 years to overcome my fear of insects, lol. And I still want to be surrounded by the wonderful people I have in my life today. Who/What are your biggest influences? The "who" portion is easy to answer — Edvin Yegir, who was my mentor during school and helped me to realize what design was truly all about. And Christopher Passehl, who took a chance on me and gave me my first job out of school. His guidance and inspiration couldn't be more appreciated or valued. Without either of these two gentlemen, I simply would not be a designer today. I owe them everything and couldn't be more thankful. And everything they design continues to inspire me. As for "what" influences me, well that's too long of a list. It's everything — what I see, what I touch, even a smell that reminds me of a childhood memory can influence a design. What do you wish you did better? Draw! I apparently am missing the illustration gene. It can be frustrating to see what you want in your head, but not be able to translate it to paper or screen. Apple needs to create an app for that. Why Connecticut? Well, the first reason is family — almost my entire family is living in Connecticut, so I would hate to move too far from them. But, that being said, I really do love this state — especially my little southeastern corner. I enjoy the art scene and all of the culture. I find my weekends double-booked with so many different events — gallery openings, concerts, wine tastings, kayaking trips, etc. Plus, I live right by the ocean — that's priceless to me. A visit to the beach, in any season, clears my head and calms my soul. I also never get bored with the weather here — it's always changing and that keeps it interesting. I even like snow (gasp!) although I am biased because I don't have to drive in it often. To top it all off, we're just a few hours from so many wonderful getaway spots — Block Island, Kennebunkport ME, Boston, NYC, Finger Lakes region of NY, Burlington VT... It's simply home. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? Well, I would have to mention Edvin Yegir and Christopher Passehl again here. And add to the list Alicia Melluzzo, an amazing artist who can paint anything and make it fabulous; Alan Maislen, who has a way with words I will never understand; Thomas Craig, who introduced me to grunge fonts; and lastly Lisa Kay, who is a fellow designer down in Fairfield County with incredible talent. Being self-employed, I guess this is kind of a short list, huh? Well, what it's lacking for quantity, it certainly makes up for with quality. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? Well, assuming "this field" means what I do on a daily basis (design and a little photography) then I will add the other creative mediums that I love to play with: letterpress, screen printing, and stained glass. As for other pursuits: reading, baking (on occasion), being at the beach any time of year, petting cats (a full time job around here), and traveling. What do you know now that you didn't know then? What I know now is that I am a Creative. This wasn't something that came automatically with my Fine Arts degree, it was only in the last few years that I started thinking of myself in this way and believing in my work and that my creativity wasn't going to just go away. It took quite a long time for me to figure that out, but knowing it now makes all the difference. It's a part of me — soul-deep, and that's never going to change.

10 Questions: Rena DeBortoli

10 Questions: Rena DeBortoli

What do you do and where do you do it? By day, I am a graphic designer / creative director for a wide variety of projects; from branding and print to motion graphics and packaging. Sometimes I do it while I’m walking the dog, sometimes while I kayak, but mostly I work from my home office at the edge of Connecticut in Pawcatuck. But all I really need is my laptop (and an Internet connection), whether it’s in my office at home or in the middle of the Mediterranean…. have laptop will travel! (Oh and by the way, by night I’m a graphic designer too, I just wear a cape.) What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? From a very young age I was interested in art, but didn’t want to be selling my paintings on the street corner, so I went to school for veterinary medicine to eventually work with tigers. I didn’t discover the graphic design profession until midway through my physics and biology courses, when my elective art course instructors kept telling me to take a graphic design course. Once I did, I never looked back — it was true love. And still very much is. I love the challenge and unique story of every project that needs to be communicated. All I can say is that I love what I do and feel very fortunate to have the freedom and luxury of enjoying my work... Sometimes I can hardly call it work — but don't tell anyone. I still love tigers. What is your single favorite portfolio piece? There have been so many fun and interesting projects. Not sure I can say I have one. Besides, I tend to stand back and look at what could have been better, or modified. Although I do not dwell, as I am usually immersed in focusing on the next project at hand. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? Well, alive for one; I’d like to still be happy, healthy, inspired and creative, while doing what I love, and exploring the world. Who/What are your biggest influences? I try to be open to take in everything around me; from the simple and tranquil color palette of a beach to the complex energy, sights, sounds and smells of busy city market. Being exposed to different points of view — whether they are from colleagues, students or an entirely different culture somewhere else in the world — continually keep my thoughts expanding. What do you wish you did better? What I wish I did better, the list would be way to long; I think on many levels I’m always striving to do better. I wish I were able to pursue some personal projects that I always manage to let fall to the side. To slow down a bit and not feel guilty for it. Sleep. Why Connecticut? Connecticut is where I ended up after college; I moved to San Francisco for a little while, discovered that I’m not fond of earthquakes and moved back. I would have considered living in Pittsburgh, where I am from, if it only had an ocean. I love the little edge of CT that I live in. I’ll stay for a while, as I work on raising funds for my second home in Capri, or a place yet to be discovered... Who are the best creatives you’ve worked with? I have been lucky enough to have studied, collaborated and worked with so very many talented people. And I’d like to think that I have learned something from everyone. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? Well, certainly there is the quest to see the world; I love to travel, especially to places that are so totally different from my day-to-day world. Certainly sharing even the simplest moments with family and friends (and of course the dog and cat.) I enjoy the outdoors, islands, a peaceful kayak, and consider myself a tequila and chocolate connoisseur. What do you know now that you didn’t know then? Everything and nothing… I do not want to stop experiencing and learning and laughing. But mostly, how truly fortunate I am in so many ways.

10 QUESTIONS| 11.17.11| 1 Comment
10 Questions: Hollister Breslin

10 Questions: Hollister Breslin

What do you do and where do you do it? I do on-site design and Creative Direction and Design for small to medium sized businesses from my home studio. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? For me it is the inherently dynamic and evolving process of collaborating, conceptualizing and communicating each unique story. Each project is an opportunity, an education, a chance to connect. What is your single favorite portfolio piece? I would have to say Knoll Luxe. Working on print, interactive and packaging, it doesn’t get any better than that. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? Working on a diverse group of relevant projects. Who/What are your biggest influences? Anything and everything. People, places, experiences, thoughts, emotions, art. What do you wish you did better? The business side. Why Connecticut? Family, friends, blue skies, green grass, trees, seasons. (Did I mention I lived in California for ten years?) Who are the best creatives you've worked with? I value every experience I have with other creatives. You always learn something. A new perspective, process, technique. However I do hold a special place for Richard Hollant. Not only is he a brilliant designer, collaborator and teacher, he is an amazing person. His talent, passion, vision, wit, intelligence, empathy and social consciousness are all qualities I aspire to as a creative. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? Family, friends, photography, music, art, film and literature. What do you know now that you didn't know then? Design is about relationships.

10 QUESTIONS| 10.26.11| 1 Comment
10 Questions: Julia Balfour

10 Questions: Julia Balfour

What do you do and where do you do it? We work with a combination of mind-reading and magic, to create designs that are smart, clean, and timeless. (And, as you can tell, we also practice a monk-like modesty!) Since Julia Balfour is a full-service creative agency, a typical week involves brand name and tagline development, logos, brochures, email marketing, custom Facebook pages, custom e-commerce websites. We'll pretty much do anything but pick up your dry cleaning! We're a 24/7 agency; inspiration, ideas, and creative thinking doesn't take a vacation or a night off. We are always thinking about our clients and the work. We're trying to make the world a more beautiful and intelligent place, one client at a time. As for our space in Lyme, the story goes that Guy Wiggins and his son built it for a painting school in the 1930s when the Great Depression made selling art impossible. We think the walls have creativity built right in. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? I'm the typical old soul, I've known what I wanted to be since I was five. I started working in a design studio — Look Design in San Carlos, CA — at 15. Went to the Art Institute of Chicago for the summer program at 16, and onto the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) for my undergrad in Graphic Design at 17. After RISD, I became really interested in the whole "multi-media" thing. At that point classically trained designers weren't interested in web design and all of my teachers tried to talk me out of going down that road. Somehow my interest in web development and design overshadowed their opinions. I applied to and got into a masters program at Parsons called Design & Technology. There I learned how to think programmatically. After I graduated I spent four years at Parsons in the Design and Management department, teaching Visual Organization and Information Design. Now my day integrates both tradition design principles and what I like to call new world thinking. What is your single favorite portfolio piece? That's kind of like asking who's your favorite client, it would be impossible to choose! Each piece of work has a great story to tell. I think the best work happens when you have clients who trust your instincts but also want to collaborate with you on the outcome. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? I'd love to be here in our studio in Lyme, creating international, national, and local work. Work that touches people's heart and gets them thinking. Maybe we've added an extension on the studio with a pool so clients can sit and sip margaritas while we review their award winning work. We have a pretty cute team so having everyone in a bikini might mean that clients never leave. Who/What are your biggest influences? I always like to look at "the big guns," the Fortune 500 Companies. They are the ones with the time and money to spend on research and development. All of our projects are deeply rooted in research. Our world changes so quickly that we have to literally research each and every day. What do you wish you did better? I am very much part creative thinker and part business woman, I think my weakness comes in when we start to talk about spreadsheets and timing. That's when my eyes start to glaze over. That is why I always have an excellent project manager on my team! Why Connecticut? We are located halfway between New York and Boston on the Connecticut Shoreline. The Old Saybrook Amtrak station can get us to either in just over two hours. It just seemed like the perfect place to be creative. I like to refer to it as faux-rural. We're in the country but can get to a good restaurant, a good theater production, a good movie theater, and of course Target all within 15 minutes. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? I've worked with some incredible creatives but I think the most inspiring has been one of our current clients, Nick Hahn of Alpaca United. Nick was the former CEO of Cotton Incorporated and led the team that developed the "Cotton. The fabric of our lives" campaign. His energy and experiences continually inspire me to work smarter, harder, faster, better. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? My husband Edward and our son Cooper top the list! My husband Edward endlessly puts up with my need to work "just one more hour" and Cooper falls asleep every night to the glow of mommy's laptop monitor. I'm hoping he'll be a designer by age five just by osmosis. I am also a complete and utter shopaholic, both online and offline. At one point my husband thought I might be having an affair with the FedEx guy since he was here everyday. Other things I love: travel, bulldogs (we have an American Bulldog — Lily — and an English Bulldog — Daisy), Burn Notice, Sauvignon Blanc, Spin Class, and my GNO group. What do you know now that you didn't know then? Have total confidence in yourself and your vision.

10 Questions: Danielle DeSanti Davis

10 Questions: Danielle DeSanti Davis

What do you do and where do you do it? Creative direction and graphic design. Out of my home office — LittleBig Shop — and on-site at agencies. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? The opportunity to be creative every day. It's an amazing gift. What is your single favorite portfolio piece? It changes, but I'm always most in love with the project I'm currently working on. I tend to dream about it. Right now, I'm working on a new identity and packaging system for a local baked goods company, Four Flours. They have a lot of spirit in their brand history want this expressed in their new look. It's very enjoyable work. A lot of our local clients are vibrant, expressive people and I hope to keep attracting this type of client. For larger clients, I love working on the Starbucks Brand with the talented Tracy Locke team. There's so much style, artistry and hand-lettering involved that each could be considered a work of art. The whole team is aligned design-wise and we all play off each other. The communication is always smart and the process is both inspiring and fun. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? Happy, inspired, passionate and balanced. Oh and rich, this may help a little with the balance.  I'd also like to have a full client roster for LittleBig Shop and be working solely from the LB studio, with a fellow creative or two. Who/What are your biggest influences? When I work at agencies, often it's the junior creatives. They have so many fresh ideas, and a non-stop attitude, it's amazing. In general, I love collaborating. What do you wish you did better? I wish I could consistently stop working by 6 or 7. This is important to my family and personal life, especially since my family is growing. I really believe in order to bring out our full creative potential, we have to enjoy life and draw inspiration from it. The ideas flow better. Why Connecticut? My family is from Connecticut and it's a great place to work independently. I've grown a lot of connections over the years and there's a lot of diversity. I don't think I would have the same opportunities say in Wyoming, which is where I'm from. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? Bill McBrayer at Concept One Communications is the best copywriter and communicator I've ever worked with. I often think of him on projects to this day and think to myself, "What would Bill do?" Creating clear communication is one of his gifts. Unfortunately, owning his own company and all, I don't believe he's available for freelance. Also, my husband, Erich Davis, is a true Renaissance Man. He's a designer, sculptor, painter, metalworker, blacksmith and more. His creative spark is unwavering, from the heart and just lovely to be around. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? Organic gardening, healthy food, hiking, biking, the woods, singing (although I'm learning) and photography. My boys: My husband Erich, my soon-to-be baby Kol and my dog Buster. What do you know now that you didn't know then? I had always been steady paycheck kind of gal and I had a lot of apprehension about working for myself. I learned that I have the personality type to have my own business and that I wouldn't want to create my life any other way. Also, the people around us really do support us when we're doing good work, so we're never really doing anything completely alone. On top of that, I genuinely feel I'm helping those I work with.

10 Questions: Vaughn Fender

10 Questions: Vaughn Fender

What do you do and where do you do it? I am a designer and illustrator at Taylor Design in the busy city of Stamford. For the most part I just make coffee and refill the copy machine, but once in a while I get to work on some great stuff. I have been working here for just about five years and its been a great journey thus far. Somehow, I find time after work to generate self initiated projects. These projects for the most part are hand drawn illustrations. My latest project is a Alphabet poster, inspired by my nieces and nephews that I plan on having screened printed when done. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? I grew up in Jamaica, following in my older brothers footsteps drawing comics and doodles. Near the end of high school between my obsession with advertising campaigns, drawing and poster making, a recruiter from an art school in Florida stopped in and completely blew my mind with career options. I knew from then on, that I wanted to do design. What is your single favorite portfolio piece? It changes from time to time. But currently I'm swooning over my alphabet poster. I have been taking as much time as I can afford to develop it and move it along. For the most part I tend to obsess over the next idea, that I need to create. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? Hopefully, alive, healthy and still being creative with less worries. Who/What are your biggest influences? Opportunity. Hard work truly does pay off, I feel very lucky when good projects come my way. What do you wish you did better? I tend to over plan, and write out too many ideas which I end up not being able to focus on. I just need to work on things and not worry about every other detail as much. Why Connecticut? I moved to Hartford when I was 18, and it's been my second home since then. Stamford is currently making its mark. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? I admire a ton of people for their creativity, thought process and delivery. From my art teachers in high school, my teachers and colleagues I have met at the Hartford Art School and the coworkers I've had the chance to work with over the years. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? Music, Food, Good/Bad Movies, Boxing, Traveling. What do you know now that you didn't know then? Everything. I just want to keep learning and seeing new things.

10 Questions: Jennifer Vallez

10 Questions: Jennifer Vallez

What do you do and where do you do it? I am an interactive designer at Cronin and Company in Glastonbury. I am also the owner/designer of my own small business, Sophie & Lili. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? I always knew I wanted to do something in the design world. My dad was an art teacher for a while & would bring home his old (almost dried up) Design® markers for me to use. I was filling up sketchbooks at a quick rate. I didn’t care if it was fashion design, interior design or advertising. I wanted to sit at a big drafting table surrounded by markers, sketch pads & creative people. (Pre-computer days!) I couldn’t imagine not being “creative” for a living. Nothing else was / is really an option for me. What is your single favorite portfolio piece? I am pretty critical of my work. I get sick of looking at it after I am finished. However, I am most proud of a site that did for the CT Opera almost 13 years ago! It was a pro bono site that I designed & coded (mostly) myself at Keiler & Co. I probably used Frontpage or Dreamweaver? I had no idea what I was doing, but it was lovely. I got my first CADC award for it. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? Yikes. I just hope to be RELEVANT and still doing something that I love. Who/What are your biggest influences? I am inspired & influenced by so much — design bloggers, fashion & textile designers, graphic & web designers, package & industrial design. I am in awe of what the creatives at IDEO, Apple & Smart Design are doing (& have done). I went to school for Fashion Design, but wish I dabbled in product design a little too. I never knew it was an option when I was that young. What do you wish you did better? Everything. I am my own worst enemy. I wish I could code (and enjoy it), take criticism better, balance my life/work/hobbies better. Why Connecticut? My parents transplanted us here from New York when I was 15. I hated it at first and went back to NYC to go to college. Then I moved to LA, but wound up wanting to be close to my parents. I felt I had my fill of the big city thing. It’s quiet, it’s beautiful and a great place to raise a family. My husband is born and raised in Connecticut. We have two little girls. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? I did my internship at Group Four Design and since then I have been lucky to have worked at some of the best ad agencies in CT — Keiler, Mintz & Hoke and Cronin. Over my 14 year career I have worked with too many talented ADs, CDs & Copywriters to count. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? I started a little girls clothing company in 2004 kind of by accident. It’s taken on new life as a soft toy / doll company. Aside from being with my husband and two young girls, I spend A LOT of time designing and making my dolls. It’s nice being able to call the shots creatively. (My customers are a delight. How much design criticism can you give about a cute little doll? My toughest customers are my daughters. I can live with that!) What do you know now that you didn't know then? I used to think web design was all about looking pretty. I had no idea what I was doing. Also, everything takes so much longer than you think it will.

10 Questions: Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill

10 Questions: Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill

What do you do and where do you do it? I'm fortunate enough to be the Director of Exhibit Design and Delivery at Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk. I lead the creative team that designs, produces and installs new exhibit and experience initiatives, as well as exhibit-related educational products. While most of our exhibits reside at our museum, we also currently have two exhibits that are on tour to museums and science centers throughout the country, as well as a mini-exhibit that is traveling to schools and libraries in Connecticut. Our interactive exhibits and initiatives recognize the value of play in promoting learning, creativity and discovery and are specifically geared towards children 10 and under, their families/caregivers and educators. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? Growing up I loved making things. In high school, all of my electives were art classes. When I was applying for college, the only thing that interested me was art. I selected graphic design as my major because I wanted skills that could pay for all of the student loans I would have when I graduated. As luck would have it, once I started taking graphic design classes, I fell in love with typography, color and grids. I keep doing what I do because I strongly believe that design can teach and inspire others. We approach all projects at the museum with the idea that design and content have a symbiotic relationship. As an example, if a graphic or activity doesn't appeal to our visitors, they're not going to read it or play with it. If the same component is well designed, but doesn't have a message or goal, they might read it or play with it, but there isn't anything to learn from it. What is your single favorite portfolio piece? Visitors to the museum regularly ask me what my favorite exhibit is. My response: “Each exhibit is like a child, they're each very different and require a lot of love and attention.” Honestly, I have no favorites and I'm really proud of what my team and I were able to accomplish with each project. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? I have absolutely no idea. As long as it's rewarding and I can pay my bills, it's all good. Who/What are your biggest influences? Cities, especially NYC; The energy and activity of places is a constant source of inspiration. Like most designers, I'm strongly influenced by subject matter of what I'm trying to communicate. When working on a project, I love learning everything I can about content to fully tranform a space into an experience that feels authentic and special. I'm also really inspired by the children and families we build the exhibits for. As part of the design process, we get feedback from kids on what they would want to do or see as part of an exhibit. The kids always come up with the best ideas — and then its part of my job to figure out how to make them into activities that translate and hold up in a museum setting. After an exhibit opens, there are always unexpected ways — some good, some bad — that kids use exhibits. Having a focus group that's always around is one of the best parts of the job. What do you wish you did better? Communicate my thoughts and ideas in narrative. Why Connecticut? My husband and I both grew up and went to school here. While there are many cities and places we like to visit, with the lifestyle we have, we haven't found a compelling reason to leave. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? Before coming to Stepping Stones six years ago, I worked at a few design studios and learned something from just about all of the great creatives I've worked with. I'm really inspired by the creative energy of my colleagues at the museum, both members of my design team but also non-designers. I'm constantly impressed with the ideas and programs our Education Department create in order to teach kids. We consistently work together to either repurpose exhibit graphics and activities or integrate what they're working on into exhibits. This synergy is part of what makes the full museum experience great for our visitors. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? Being at the ocean, reading, organic gardening, traveling, spending time with my husband and yellow lab and — while some might say it's technically “inside my field” — visiting museums. What do you know now that you didn't know then? Always keep an open mind and take risks as opportunities are presented. Ten years ago, I never would have believed that I would be doing what I am.

10 Questions: Peter Sena

10 Questions: Peter Sena

What do you do and where do you do it? What? Depending on who you ask, they will tell you I'm something completely different. I'm a Programmer, Designer, and Creative Strategist — but most importantly a problem solver — at Digital Surgeons. Where? Our offices are based out of New Haven, but I like to solve most problems in my home studio in Milford, on the slopes or while I'm sleeping. It sounds esoteric but it couldn't be closer to the truth. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? I used to want to be a comic book artist cause I drew and sketched so much. I like figuring out ways to tell stories. Pretty far off from Digital Marketing, right? Well, I'm a tech geek, I grew up wanting to do film special effects, so when I found out there was a way for both those worlds to collide, I dove in head first. Everyday is a new day, a new problem to solve. The landscape changes by the minute, and constantly innovating and pushing the envelope keeps my head in the game. What is your single favorite portfolio piece? That is like asking me my favorite movie; it's a really hard question. I'd say top of mind recently, our campaign for Ovation Guitars is by far my favorite. The people at Ovation love the brand, and their passion and desire to be a leader in acoustic guitar innovation really inspired me to the ideas and executions we inevitably went with. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? Probably doing quite the same thing in whatever capacity the future ends up. In innovation consulting, where I always get to push my skills and ideas into a reality. Combining art and technology really gets my gears going. I'd like to find more time to write and get more of my thoughts out. It is very hard to make time to tackle all that while growing our company. Who/What are your biggest influences? Music, film and obviously popular culture. I'm obsessed with playing video games or hitting the movies to zone out and let my mind go. It either drives me or knocks me even further off base. What do you wish you did better? Write. I struggle with the best way to articulate myself, and grammar is my worst enemy. I blame my English teachers for letting me be a class clown. Why Connecticut? Well, I'm born and raised here so that made it a bit easier to select. Why New Haven? Like everything we do at Digital Surgeons, picking the location for our office was something we thought long and hard about. In the end we chose New Haven, Connecticut. We wanted to be in an environment rich with creativity and intellectual stimulation. A cool space in the heart of the Yale campus answered that requirement. We wanted to be someplace within easy reach of the technology and business hubs of Boston and New York, but also wanted a city with its own thriving tech and start-up traditions. Finally, we wanted a place that was easy to get to and easy to get from. It's hard to find a more convenient city than New Haven (in fact, we couldn't). We hope you'll stop by and see us sometime. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? Tough question! If I had to pick a top five, naturally it would be the core leaders at our agency, which is one of the reasons I partnered up with them. Mark Myrick, Creative Director, innovator, conceptual genius. Aaron Sherrill, our interactive director. Rob Slosberg from Turbine Boost (formally VGS Creative). What are your loves/passions outside of this field? Film, writing, snowboarding, music. What do you know now that you didn't know then? Being an entrepreneur isn't a job, it's a way of life. If you want to be good at it, you have to surrender your life to it.

10 Questions: Greg Chinn

10 Questions: Greg Chinn

What do you do and where do you do it? Owner/Creative Director of Jargon Boy Design Studio. The firm focuses on brand identity programs for various corporate clients. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? Saw an ad designed by Paul Rand. It was so modern compared to what was out and yet had been created in the 50s. Wanted to know how to do that. Love the profession because it's always changing and growing. What is your single favorite portfolio piece? It's always the next piece I'm about to make. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? Continue doing work that challenges my own sensibilities and pushes clients to unexpected places. Who/What are your biggest influences? People who have a vision. Musicians like The Flaming Lips, John Coltrane, Sly and the Family Stone, Shuggie Otis and Israel Kamakawio'ole. I always look to artists like Pablo Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg, Jeff Koons, Ed Kienholz, HC Westermann and Robert Motherwell for inspiration. Also admire architects Craig Ellwood, Gregory Ain, R.M. Schindler, Richard Neutra and Robert Venturi and how they manipulate space. What do you wish you did better? Budget my time. Why Connecticut? My wife, daughter and I initially moved out here from Los Angeles for work and being closer to family. Now we've added a boy and have really fallen in love with our town of Fairfield. Could never leave. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? Rick Seireeni: Owner of The Brand Architect Group in Los Angeles, CA. Co-authored the seminal book: Marks - New Directions in Logo Design. Taught me about how a design firm's identity is created and what it takes to be a great art director. Tamar Rosenthal: Creative Director of FIDM | The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, CA. Taught me how to create vernacular languages. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? Amazing food, creating art and hanging out with my family. What do you know now that you didn't know then? You can combine a personal vision with commerce and be successful.

10 Questions: Nick Healy

10 Questions: Nick Healy

What do you do and where do you do it? I am the Senior Art Director at Mascola Group, a full service ad agency in New Haven. I’ve been here for over six years and I love it now more than ever. We have a client list that ranges from local to international and ultra-affluent to mass market. I get the opportunity to create everything from collateral for luxury residences onboard a ship that travels the globe all the way to tv spots and print ads for America’s ninth largest fair. Plus the dynamic here couldn’t be better — everyone has their own expertise, but we all realize that good advertising and branding comes from a group effort and that everyone’s voice and opinion needs to be heard. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? I originally choose to study graphic design out of a fear of failing as a full-time artist, but in the time since then I am completely happy with my decision. At the University of Hartford I was exposed to the training and techniques to be a painter or illustrator — my original intentions for a life path — but I have gained a career that I can make a living at where I can still be creative every day. What is your single favorite portfolio piece? My favorite piece always tends to be the most recently completed one. The more time that passes since I have a completed project and the more I look at it, the more I would change or do differently. I guess with that thought in mind I would have to say the work that we are in the process of finalizing and sending to print for our client The World would be my favorite. The World is a luxury yacht with 165 private residences onboard. We are completely rebranding them and are producing a new Ad Campaign, Website (not currently launched, don’t judge me by the one online right now), and printed collateral. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? I really can’t answer that, I tend to not think any further that a couple months ahead of myself. I like to enjoy the present. And right now things are going really well… I just had my first child (a baby girl, Charlotte June Healy) with my amazing wife Katharine, I love my full time job and I own a business with my brother. Who/What are your biggest influences? My brother Jeff and the 13 other artists besides myself that contribute to One of Twenty have had a huge influence on the artwork I create personally. As for design and advertising, I try to not be influenced by trends. I always try to shape my work based on ideas and design that will resonate most with our clients' consumers. What do you wish you did better? A lot. Why Connecticut? I joke around about how lame I am by growing up in Connecticut, going to school in Connecticut and settling in Connecticut, but I really like it here. I loved growing up in a town on the water, I like being close to New York City and I go there as much as I can, I loved living for four years in New Haven, and I’m really excited that my daughter lives within 30 minutes of both my family and my wife’s. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? I am a huge fan of the collaborative aspect of the advertising industry. I know that my skills and talents can only take a project so far, so pairing with the right people can make or break a job. My creative partner Michelle Yue is unmatched when it comes to copywriting. She has an ability to give a brand a voice that is smart, relevant and at the same approachable to consumers. Also, the photographers and videographers we work constantly amaze me. Derek Dudek and Aaron Kotowski are two that we always go back to. They both can take a rough idea that Michelle and I present to them and turn it into amazing visuals no matter what the circumstances. It’s also pretty great that photoshoots get me out of the office. In my time at Mascola I’ve gotten to go to the Caribbean twice and Miami once, plus on a whole host of local shoots here in New England. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? Outside of working at Mascola Group, I am also one of the founding partners of One of Twenty, an artist collective and clothing design company that I started with my brother Jeff in 2008. The collective is a currently a group of 14 artists from up and down the east coast. We host group and solo shows for our artists; the main idea being that we can use our combined networks to grow larger than any of us would be able to individually. For the clothing aspect, we use designs from our various artists to create men’s and women’s clothing, all in limited edition runs of 20. One of Twenty has become really important to me, if for no other reason because I get to collaborate on projects with my brother. Jeff is one of the most talented painters I know and his intuitive sense of color and composition constantly amazes me. Another reason is the complete creative freedom. While I love my job, it’s refreshing that I don’t have clients to answer to when making decisions. I get to create my own artwork and our marketing materials free from outside influences. I guess there is a sense of fear there too, if something turns out awful it is based upon the decisions made by us. And finally, I really believe that visual arts are important and need to be kept alive. Most of the events and shows that we host are at Skate Shops, Restaurants and Bars, during concerts, snowboard contests and at Roller Derby. I like the fact that we get to help expose people to something they might not have seen if it weren’t for the events we put on. What do you know now that you didn't know then? A lot.

10 Questions: Matt Hunsberger

10 Questions: Matt Hunsberger

What do you do and where do you do it? I'm a designer at Humongo, a digital creative agency in Danbury. I also have a lot of self-initiated projects like drawing all the synthesizers I own. If I'm not making art, I'm producing electro pop music as Teleflux. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? I've spent my whole life drawing and have always considered myself an artist and a creative person. Around age 13 I became interested in web design and began creating websites. At that point I decided I wanted to be a graphic designer, and I definitely fell in love with it in college. Design is such a great career because you face new, exciting challenges every day and, it requires a lot of brain power. What is your single favorite piece in your portfolio? Probably the Draw On website. Draw On is a series of community events started by the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum that bring people together and foster creativity through drawing and art making. It's a great program and idea and I think I was able to capture the spirit of the event in a very unique and fun way. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? Still loving what I do. Who/What are your biggest influences? I've always liked Pentagram's work. They manage to create cutting edge design without being too trendy. I really like Paula Scher. Her work always has the right amount of simplicity and bold typography. I'm really impressed by people who do process projects, creating a new piece of art or design every day. It inspires me to keep going. What do you wish you did better? I have too many ideas and I wish I could execute them faster. I wish I was a better blogger. I'm still figuring out the whole self promotion thing. Why Connecticut? I went to school here at the Hartford Art School and was lucky enough to find a great job in the same state. The creative community has been very supportive. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? The team at Humongo has been great. I couldn't ask for a better work environment. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? Definitely music. I almost went to college for it. As I said before, if I'm not making art then I'm making music. Or looking for vintage synthesizers on eBay. What do you know now that you didn’t know then? Everything takes 5 times longer than you think it will. You won't love every second of your job. Self promotion is not a bad thing, and no, your work doesn't speak for itself.

10 Questions: Suzanne Petrow

10 Questions: Suzanne Petrow

What do you do and where do you do it? Currently I am the head art director at Silver Creative Group in South Norwalk. It is a small company so I wear a lot of hats. I am involved in every aspect of a project from concept to the finished product including naming, copywriting, illustrating and production as well as design. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? From as early as I can remember I have been creating art; drawing, painting, sculpting… whatever I can get my hands on to express myself. In college I realized I should pick a semi-reliable career path so I majored in graphic design and minored in illustration. Turns out it was a perfect fit, I love what I do and I manage to keep artistic balance by incorporating my illustration into my designs. I stay in the profession because it continues to throw me new challenges and there are so many techniques, mediums and styles I have yet to explore. What is your single favorite piece in your portfolio? The 2 Gold Street integrated campaign is one of my favorite works to date. My vision for the design of this project was clear from the moment I learned about the building. I love relating a piece to a certain time period and style, so the 1920’s architecture of this luxury rental was right up my alley. I enjoyed researching patterns, textures, typefaces, color and music to reflect the roaring 20’s. The client did not have any photos of the building so it was the perfect opportunity to take an illustrative approach. My concept came to life through a collaboration of my sketches and the illustrator’s talent. It was refreshing and surprising that a real estate development company was on board with such a unique branding strategy. They also afforded us the opportunity to use special printing techniques, enhancing the vintage quality of the piece. Going to the press run in an old print shop with antique equipment was a fascinating and unusual experience. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? I envision that I will continue to create in all different mediums and fields so I can grow as an artist and as a person. I hope I will design for a greater cause and improve my community and environment. I want to be part of something larger than design with fewer restrictions on my creative journey. Who/What are your biggest influences? Who: My eclectic group of friends, family and people I meet on an everyday basis. What doesn’t inspire me? Music, traveling, nature, history, food. Inspiration usually comes to me when I least expect it. It is organic and can’t be forced. The other day a piece of half eaten fudge w/ teeth marks inspired me. I always make sure I have a sketchbook nearby to record my constant stream of sporadic ideas. What do you wish you did better? I wish I were better at managing my free time so I could paint and create without a premise or purpose. Work that is just for the love of creation and the end client is me. Why Connecticut? Just how the stars aligned. I grew up in Queens and moved to CT when I was young. I love the proximity of beaches, NYC and my family. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? Starting from the beginning, I have been surrounded by wonderfully creative people. I started drawing and painting with my mom, aunt and sister. In high school I had the amazing opportunity to work as a sculpture apprentice with Greg Wyatt and his talented staff in the St. John the Divine cathedral studio. Hartford Art School surrounded me with an art community of students and teachers that had a profound effect on my path as an artist. And of course the talented designers, copywriters, illustrators and programmers I’ve worked with at Silver. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? I love music, dancing, painting, drawing, traveling, jewelry design and cooking. I like to challenge myself by learning new things. I am currently learning how to play guitar. What do you know now that you didn't know then? I’ve learned not to over think things. If something doesn’t come to me naturally then it is contrived and not meant to be. I’ve learned to be more in tune with my instincts and to trust my gut. Although I may have over thought a few of these answers! Links to work samples: www.2goldstreet.com www.amino-vital.com www.455w37.com dev.200waterst.com

10 Questions: Kelly Clark

10 Questions: Kelly Clark

What do you do and where do you do it? I am an art director at Outthink in Essex. On the side I own Trove, a traveling boutique I started up 2 years ago. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? In high school I wanted to be an interior designer but realized my poor measuring/math skills would lead me to create spaces with oversized furniture and curtains that were too short. So, I went to Pratt for illustration, but after my sophmore year I changed my major to graphic design because I didn't want to be self employed. I have stayed with graphic design and I like it because it allows me to cross the line into illustrator sometimes and doesn’t corner me into doing the same thing every day. I would like to be a stylist someday though. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? In 10 years I will be 42, (scary). My girls will be 10 1/2 and 12, (scarier). I hope to have achieved the balance in life. Juggling a career, kids, wants, needs, good times, bad times...I want to continue to be passionate about what I do and appreciate what I have every moment. Oh, and I want partial residency in the Caribbean or outer Bahamas. (seriously) Who/What are your biggest influences? Who: India Hicks. Rebecca Thuss. Amy Butler. Dolan Geiman. People who are amazing creatives but don’t have a big ego. What: Antique stores. an hour in Homegoods. a window seat on a train ride with my ipod & sketchbook. old homes. peoples studios/work spaces. childrens books. treehouses. good blogs. islands. What is your single favorite piece in your portfolio? Right now, the work I am doing with Trove. I get to be the buyer, designer, art director, photographer, stylist and the best of all... the client! What do you wish you did better? I wish my everyday handwriting had a style. It seems to always change. When I was young I would constantly play around with the way I wrote, like I was searching for my identity. Nothing stuck. And it’s still all over the place. Cursive, caps, girly, sketchy, neat... I wonder what this all means. Why Connecticut? I ask myself the same question at the end of every summer. Seriously, I love CT — so nice to be close to NYC and New Haven is like a little jewel. But I have a serious plan to head to St. Somewhere at some point. I just have no use for cold. Who are the best creatives you’ve worked with? So many great people at TracyLocke and also at Colangelo. Chris Kelly is someone I will always remember working for and much of his design wisdom will always be in my head. And then of course all of my co-creatives at Outthink- I feel lucky to be part of such a close family of creative people there. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? By far, my deepest passion is for the islands. The water, the music, the sun, colors, the people, the forced simplicity. I love island life. And not the resort type (though I love that too). I am talking the small apartment with chickens running through my backyard, hanging laundry outside, riding my bike to work, type of island life. What do you know now that you didn’t know then? I didn’t know that I would be the same person at 32 that I was at 12. I used to daydream about the future and, for some reason, imagined someone I didn’t yet know... I had no idea that all my passions, fears, dreams would all stay constant. I still love mermaids and unicorns.

10 Questions: Jeff Solak

10 Questions: Jeff Solak

What do you do and where do you do it? I'm a designer at Bertz Design Group in Middletown. I also work on self-initiated, exploratory type projects from my home studio in New Hartford. Lately, I've been working on a series of loosely defined photographic projects. One of these is a study of flora through the process of decomposition (a few examples are above). The flowers have a very serene quality about them. Through these photographs, I seek to capture their understated beauty and grace in various stages of death. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? For me, it was like this: either go into teaching and get the summers off, or, go into the creative field and, well, be creative. (Admittedly, in hindsight, that assessment was completely ignorant and short-sighted.) I later realized that creativity, or being creative, is an intensive and self-perpetuating process. It is fueled by our formal and informal education (knowledge/theory), our openness to failure (exploration), our personal experiences and the thoughts and ideas that surround those experiences (frame of reference). Don't let anyone kid you, design isn't easy (and I'm sure teaching isn't either). But for me, the process is about learning and growing. In an essence, the more we give, the more we get. What is your single favorite piece in your portfolio? I don't have favorites. No single piece that I have ever produced has been that complete. I still cringe at some of my earlier work. In some cases, it’s nothing short of embarrassing. The value of recognizing the successes and failures with each piece reminds me where I started and how far I’ve come. Scrutinizing the failures, in particular, enables me to remain focused, and most importantly, hungry. I think sometimes there's too much emphasis on the production a finished piece, and that piece being complete, perfect and grand. When I look at my portfolio, I don't see finished pieces -- I see solutions that will always benefit from further thought and reworking. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? Other than alive and well, I have no idea. This is easily the hardest question to answer. Who/What are your biggest influences? I'm inspired by people of all ages and in all professions, who's work is fueled by passion, dedication and concern for others. I hear and read about them everyday. If I'm lucky, I sometimes have the opportunity to engage, and possibly work with some of these folks. What do you wish you did better? Think. Design. Create. Strategize. Program. Write. You name it. I also wished my jump shot was a bit more consistent. (I'm not asking for too much, am I?) Why Connecticut? Because I grew up here. But the bigger question is: Why Not? Who are the best creatives you've worked with? I've been very privileged to work and associate with many talented, dedicated people that have helped further my professional/personal development in one way or another. I would have to say that Ted Bertz, John Gibson and Richard Hollant are at the top of that list. Without a doubt, these guys have made an indelible impression on me, demonstrating their leadership, attention to craft and unparalleled work ethic. I consider them great teachers and better friends. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? Truthfully, I find most everything interesting on some level because I recognize its significance within the bigger picture of our interconnected world. I try to experience and learn as much as I can so that I can produce the best, most informed work possible. What do you know now that you didn't know then? Two things jump out at me: 1_ Sweat the small stuff. 2_ The more I think I know, the more I realize that I have a lot to learn.

10 Questions: Marcella Kovac

10 Questions: Marcella Kovac

What do you do and where do you do it? Basically, I have fun all day and get paid for it. Ha! It's true, I love what I do. I'm the owner of a small design agency in Bridgeport called Bananaland. We dabble in, but are not limited to: websites, IDs, brochures, monkey training, hand stamping, and intern torture. Why Bananaland? Cause the secret behind creativity is to be completely bananas. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? Possibly at age 1 when I consumed my first Crayola crayon, later realizing, "Hey, these aren't for eating." I stay in it because I'm always in it. There's no off switch, nor would I ever want one. Example 1, grocery shopping: "Why is milk packaged in a carton instead of rubber cow utters?" Example 2, driving: "CT plates should be available in PMS Hexachrome Magenta C" Example 3, at the dentist: "It'd be awesome if these pamphlets had a dancing tooth saying 'clean me' in Gotham bold." What is your single favorite piece in your portfolio? Be Our Neighbor. It's not just about good design, but the gathering of a community. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? Drinking wine on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. And of course, doing quirky, creative, interesting design for quirky, creative, interesting people. Who/What are your biggest influences? Fellow CT creatives, Stefan S., Wes A., my sister, my guy What do you wish you did better? "THE BOOKS" Why Connecticut? This state is wild! Who are the best creatives you've worked with? Again, my sister and my guy come into play. Also Michael Francis Barnes. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? Alpine climbing, art, outer space, art, glow stick twirling, art, banana eating, art. What do you know now that you didn't know then? I know nothing now but hope to know something then. Sites that go with the samples: http://www.thebananaland.com/ http://be-our-neighbor.com/ http://campkayak.org/ http://gunniethedunnie.com/

10 Questions: Carol Hoyem

10 Questions: Carol Hoyem

What do you do and where do you do it? I basically run c.creative from my living room amongst 2 active pre-teen stepchildren. So, while bombs are going off on Call Of Duty, disco-themed arcade music is blasting away on Marble Ultra Blast, I'm creating a color palette for a restaurant in Switzerland, tent banners and graphics for Waffle Planet or program applications for the Rally Foundation Cancer Research for Kids. If it weren't for the 12 years working in studios bustling with drama, noise and pure chaos I would have folded months ago. Hands as steady as a surgeon. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? I originally went to FIT in Manhattan for Fashion Design. I lived, breathed and was nourished by Vogue as a kid...but after a year into the program I was disappointed in finding way too much dirt and indulgence in the industry. By then, I found much appeal in Advertising, so I switched majors. Advertising lead to Package design, consumer graphics lead eventually lead to Graphic Design. It all bleeds together for me and I have to say, it certainly helps to have a multifaceted background. What is your single favorite piece in your portfolio? I have to say the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational piece gets the most attention. I love the simplicity of Huge Type. After 10 years of trying to get the client to like small, petite, discreet, and completely illegible type, it was actually refreshing to just go BIG. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? In my very own little private studio built just for me...close enough to the family and yet....just far enough away. Who/What are your biggest influences? Without a doubt, Margo Chase. In many ways, I feel a kinship or a parallel journey in design sense. I started out in college rapidographing all my logos by hand. I never grew tired of the process. We share the love of using the ancient art of chinese calligraphy as well. There's something peaceful in grinding your own ink. I simply heart her. What do you wish you did better? Being that I am now just learning Flash, Dreamweaver and Fireworks, I'm looking forward to utilizing these programs as efficiently as I do Illustrator and photoshop. Why Connecticut? I get asked this all the time by my city friends. While I did love living in the city, what I missed most was actually driving my car to the grocery store. There's a quality of life in a sleepy little town like Deep River that I love. It keeps you centered and your way of life humble. It's all about the simple things. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? I learned an enormous amount from both John Visgilio and Rena Debortoli. They're both brilliant and set the standards that I hold for myself now. What are your loves/passions outside of the field? Cooking. I have Tyler Florence, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver on my iPhone, I think that says it all. What do you know now that you didn't know then? That I'm actually good at what I do. It took me 10 years to realize that.

10 Questions: Tracie Valentino

10 Questions: Tracie Valentino

What do you do and where do you do it? I am a graphic designer, creative director, project manager, owner, operator, and all around great gal at traciedesigns, in Fairfield. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? From an early age, I've always liked to draw and create. When I was in high school, the only class I excelled in was anything to do with art. When I went on to art school, I had to take a graphic design class, and I was hooked. I couldn't believe that people made a living doing something so fun and cool. I stay in it because I love what I do. On any given day, I have dozens of ideas buzzing around in my head. The fact that I get paid to make those ideas come to life is like the icing on a very yummy cake. What is your single favorite piece in your portfolio? I don't necessarily have a favorite piece, but I am especially proud of my logo work. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? In 10 years I hope to have the kind of business that allows me to pick and choose the projects I want to work on, rather than taking on a project because of that pesky mortgage. I'd also like to see at least one of the many business ideas in my head come to fruition. And finally, I'd like to be independently wealthy (which I guess goes hand in hand with the above). In 10 years I'll be getting ready to send my second child off to college — yikes. Who/What are your biggest influences? Jessica Hische is a big influence — I love her type. Alejandro Paul is an amazing type designer, too. Designers like Tina Roth Eisenberg, Khoi Vinn; I love, love, love their simplicity. There are a ton of outside influences as well — my camera is filled with a bunch of stuff that grabs my attention. It could be anything from my kids to the color of the grass to the way the sunlight reflects off of a building. What do you wish you did better? Among other things, I'd love to be able to balance my work vs. play time a little better. I love what I do — but sometimes the downtime is just as important. I just read a great quote that said something along the lines of being a freelancer isn't choosing your own hours, it's choosing which 16 hours of the day you have to work. Isn't that the truth? Why Connecticut? I was born and raised here; so it's not really a question of why, but more why not? Who are the best creatives you've worked with? I worked with a great team at my last full time job — for ImageMark, in Wilton. And Amy Graver and everyone over at Elements. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? Shoes. Photography. My kids. Letterpress printing — not necessarily a passion, but I have a huge desire to learn the trade. Letterpress printers in Connecticut: please let me come play and learn! What do you know now that you didn't know then? Be happy. I love what I do for a living; if that isn't a reason to be happy, then I don't know what is.

10 Questions: Chris Piascik

10 Questions: Chris Piascik

What do you do and where do you do it? I am freelance graphic designer and illustrator. I work from my office (living room) in Cromwell. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? I have been drawing constantly all of my life. As a young child I would disassemble the music albums around me and recreate my own. When I realized that it was someone's job to design these packages it blew my little mind. I love what I do and that is what keeps me going. What is your single favorite piece in your portfolio? I would have to say my tribute zine to Major Taylor (I am aware that picking a self-authored piece may be cheating). Major Taylor was an American cyclist who won the world one-mile track cycling championship in 1899 after setting numerous world records and overcoming racial discrimination. Renowned as The Fastest Bicycle Rider In The World in the early 1900s, he accredits his success as a world champion to the value of good habits and clean living. He has a list of 12 guidelines to live by — some are very quirky, I illustrated each of these for the zine. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? I'd love to be a little more financially secure and able to be a bit more selective with the projects I take on. Aside from that I can't complain — it's fantastic to be able to do my own thing. I would however like to be doing more gallery shows and possibly teaching again (on the side). In terms of location, I am not quite sure. I spent the last 4 years in Boston, and now I am back in Connecticut (my home state). Boston was great, but it's also nice to be back in CT. Who/What are your biggest influences? I really admire artists like Steve Powers (Espo) and Parra. I look up to people like Rich Stevens (Diesel Sweeties) and Kate Bingaman-Burt (Obsessive Consumption) for their incredible consistency. What do you wish you did better? Just getting things done without over-thinking each detail. Why Connecticut? I was born here, my girlfriend is going to grad school here, many of my friends are here, and New Haven has the best pizza (anywhere). Who are the best creatives you've worked with? Vaughn Fender, Will Bryant, Ryan Frease, Ira Cummings, Troy Monroe, Aaron Belyea, Chad Kouri, Peter Stockmal... I could go on and on... What are your loves/passions outside of this field? Music, bicycles, skating. What do you know now that you didn't know then? Everything. Hah, well that hard work really does pay off. That I am capable of making a living without a studio's support.

10 Questions: Tim Benzinger

10 Questions: Tim Benzinger

What do you do and where do you do it? I am a creative something or other. I spend my days designing and directing for websites, print, identities/logos and more at Parallel, a design studio I founded with the help of a few like-minded individuals. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? I knew what I wanted to do from a very young age. Some kids grow up playing cops and robbers, I grew up playing "let's run a design studio." Once that middle school bell would ring, my brother, a close friend, and I would get to work building up our fictitious design studio, Parallel Vision. We'd sit around brainstorming ideas, sketching out logos, and building out websites for clients that don't exist. Eventually, we put Parallel Vision to rest. Years later, just after college, I started up a design studio and called it Parallel. I do what I do because becoming a professional skateboarder wasn't feasible. Honestly though, I am a designer because I still get the same kick out of it as I did when I was starting out and I plan on doing what I do until the projects stop coming. I feel my profession offers so many ways to immerse myself into anything and everything that it would be foolish to not remain in it. We design so intimately for a product, service, or brand that we truly get a glimpse into countless other professions; that is why I do what I do. What is your single favorite piece in your portfolio? Currently my favorite piece in my portfolio is titled, "If waves come, learn to surf." It's a personal piece that I feel defines me quite well. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? In 10 years, I want to be someone that makes things happen through creativity and good business decisions. I want to be in a position where I have the tools and resources necessary to see any idea through to completion. Who/What are your biggest influences? I am most influenced by processes by which a product is created. I like knowing that behind every product, there were unique steps to making it complete. For example: designing a typeface, preparing a letterpress, or piecing together a watch. I am also influenced by user interactions. I enjoy seeing how people use a product or service. It's interesting to see how one might use something differently than another. I think this is why a major focus of mine has always been designing for the web and mobile. I am influenced by people too. Alan Fletcher for his brilliant mind, Charles & Ray Eames for their incredibly well-considered furniture, Apple for their consistent innovation and attention to detail, and the many typographers, designers, business men and women who see value in good design. What do you wish you did better? I might primarily be a graphic/web designer, but I often dream about product design, furniture design, architecture, and industrial design. The only problem is my 3D modeling experience is limited. Seeing through my ideas is something I hope to get to one day. Why Connecticut? Connecticut has offered me everything I've needed so far. Nowadays I can comfortably work in this very scenic state for someone who resides on the other side of the world. I grew up in Connecticut, so living and working here made sense. It's a great state to live in and it's home to my friends and family. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? My core team throughout the past few years: Brian, Matt, Max, and Shawn. Their dedication and passion for what they do has been invaluable throughout the hundreds of projects we've worked on together. If you guys are reading this, thank you for the good times. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? Skateboarding has become a necessary ingredient to my life. When I was younger, it was merely something new to be a part of, getting together with friends and casually skating, but over the years it has transformed into something I look forward to everyday. It keeps me in shape, it clears my mind, and the reward from landing a trick worked on for days, if not years, is a feeling unlike any I can describe. Additionally, like most, I have a weakness for puppies and kittens. What do you know now that you didn't know then? Too many to list. Another reason to love what I do.

10 Questions: Anthony Acock

10 Questions: Anthony Acock

What do you do and where do you do it? I am the Senior Art Director at The Worlds Smallest Ad Agency. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? I've been drawing and painting obsessively since I was about 3. Around the age of 14, I got into graffiti, and the obsession grew exponentially, to the point of being unhealthy. Draw-paint-sleep, draw-paint-sleep, draw-paint-sleep. My grades and my relationships definitely suffered, but I regret nothing. When it came time for college, I started out as a sociology major because I was wicked into Marxist theory, but eventually couldn't hack it in the math department. I switched to art (after a sympathetic sociology teacher turned me onto the Constructivist movement). I've always detested 'fine art', so I knew I didn't want to be a painter-painter. I couldn't imagine doing oil paintings for rich people to hang in hotel lobbies... gross. By this point, graffiti had taught me a neurotic love of letterforms, and anonymity, so graphic design was obviously appealing. All the aspects of graffiti, none of the trouble. Done deal. What is your single favorite piece in your portfolio? I can't imagine being able to pick one. There are some pieces I'm quite proud of, and there are some turds. My portfolio as a whole is what I'm most proud of I suppose. It showcases a large chunk of my life. The good, the bad, the embarrassing. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? With my family, or on a bike, or ideally with my family, while riding bikes. Who/What are your biggest influences? Vandalism, handmade type, things that are broken. Music, music, music. The work my friends produce. My friends are absolutely fucking amazing, I am constantly humbled by their brilliance and honored to be able to associate with them. I've won the lottery in that department. I feel like I snuck onto the first class section on a plane where everyone is the world's best — painter, writer, designer, thinker, musician, etc — yet somehow they let me tag along, and I'm just thrilled to be there. What do you wish you did better? Organize, not get frustrated, push back effectively. Why Connecticut? The economy, stupid. No, but really. I'm a west coast kid. California, Oregon, Washington. Unfortunately, the economy tanked there long ago, so I came out here for job in Manhattan, ended up in Connecticut. New Haven is amazing. Hartford is great, Bridgeport is great. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? Too many to mention. Andy Yasgar, John Lepak, Vaughn Fender, Joe Porto, Troy Monroe, Wojetek Pirog, Caitlin Shiller. I know I'm forgetting some, but these kids definitely come to mind. What are your loves/passions outside of this field? Skateboarding, bikes, vintage italian scooters, graffiti, music. The same dumb shit I've been doing daily since I was 14, but now I'm 31 and just can't seem to grow out of them. The only thing in my life that's changed in the last 16 years is the birth of my son Gabriel. He's amazing, and he is my everything. What do you know now that you didn't know then? That the only person/place/thing you should be loyal to, is your family. Everything else is a distant, distant second.

10 Questions: Chris Spada

10 Questions: Chris Spada

What do you do and where do you do it? I'm a designer working at Humongo located in Danbury. What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it? I knew when I fell in love with drawing around age 7 that I wanted to have a job where I could be creative in any way or form. It was the one area that came naturally to me growing up. I stay in this field because I find it incredibly rewarding to make a living by being creative. No matter how tough of a day I might have, I always remind myself that I'm part of a small percentage of people who love their job. What is your single favorite piece in your portfolio? Hmmm, that's a tough question. I think if I had to only show one piece of work to someone, it would be the website design for Plaid Nation 2009. Plaid Nation (now Humongo Nation) is our annual summer tour celebrating innovation and creativity. It's kinda like a rock band on tour but instead of rock stars, there are creative agency folk. We took a lot of time strategizing this site and loaded it up with the latest and greatest social media tools that we felt were important for users to watch and interact with us as the tour made it's way through the South. Additionally the site look and feel is fun which made it a pleasure to work on. What/Where do you want to be in 10 years? I hope to be doing what I'm doing now, going to work every day and getting to be über creative. Oh, and I hope to have a dog, too. Who/What are your biggest influences? My influences seem to range from which ever medium I'm working in. I have always admired Alexander Isley's well thought out approach to print and identity work. When it comes to interactive work, I find Chris Spooner and Megan Fisher inspiring because of the amount of detail they bring into their projects. What do you wish you did better? I wish I was better at receiving feedback. I'm guilty of shutting down a bit if a critique gets away from me, but it's all part of the process. I usually get right back at it after a proper sulk. Why Connecticut? I was born and raised in the Hartford area and after spending my first few years of college in New York, I realized I prefer to visit the city, not live in it. I also have been a big fan of the different agencies located in the state so I always knew the opportunity to do some great work was always here in Connecticut. Who are the best creatives you've worked with? Hands down, the team at Humongo. All of our designers have such different approaches and styles that it's helped me grow as a designer. Every day, whether we're brainstorming, strategizing or designing, we're constantly trying new things, which is awesome! What are your loves/passions outside of this field? I'm an avid musician so love any opportunity I get to make/record my own music. I've recently started enjoying writing. I've had the opportunity do some guest writing on some design blogs including Six Revisions and Brandflakes for Breakfast, which is kind of funny because the last thing I ever wanted in school was to take on additional writing projects, but doing so is quickly becoming a near and dear hobby. What do you know now that you didn't know then? I've rapidly learned how incredibly social this profession is, especially within the state of Connecticut. Just using social media tools, I've been able to talk with other Connecticut creatives. There are a lot of friendships to be made, and a lot of the times it's who you know. So reach out to people!

NEWSBRIEFS

Connecticut Agencies Named 2014 Best Places to Work

Three Hartford-area agencies were recently named among the 2014 Best Places to Work in Connecticut. Created by the Hartford Business Journal and Best Companies Group, the state-wide survey identifies, recognizes, and honors the best 35 employers that are benefitting Connecticut’s economy and workforce. Making the list were Adams & Knight in Avon, Primacy in Farmington, and Worx Branding & Advertising in Prospect.

Norwalk's Tim Mara is a GD USA 2014 Student to Watch

Tim Mara, now an art director at TracyLocke in Wilton, made the list of Graphic Design USA’s 2014 Students to Watch. Tim earned his BFA in Graphic Design at The College of Saint Rose and now resides in Norwalk.

Taylor Design Wins in the 2013 HOW International Design Awards

HOW Magazine announced that work done by Taylor Design has been chosen as a winner in the 2013 HOW International Design Awards. The winning entries include the Sarah Lawrence College Admissions Poster, designed by Hannah Fichandler and illustrated by Vaughn Fender; the 2013 Taylor Design Holiday Calendar, designed by Steve Habersang and illustrated by Vaughn Fender; and the Greenwich Academy Case Statement, art directed by Hannah Fichandler and designed by Steph Mullins Baumer. The winners will be recognized in the March 2014 issue of HOW Magazine.

Kim Ronemus Design's Studio Featured in How Magazine

Kim Ronemus Design‘s repurposed-service-station-now-design-studio caught the eye of HOW magazine and was awarded one of “Five Most Creative Workspaces in the Northeast.” The office was originally the first gas station in town and remained in service until the ’70s. Vestiges of that previous life have been maintained and can be seen in everything from the building’s cement floors to the aluminum paint. “It has a great industrial vibe to it,” says Kim Ronemus, principal.

Dornenburg Group Is Now Dornenburg Kallenbach Advertising

Dornenburg Group is now Dornenburg Kallenbach Advertising, a full-service advertising and marketing communications agency located in Bloomfield. “2013 marks the agency’s 19th anniversary and we thought this was a good time to make some changes,” says President and Creative Director Jeff Dorenenburg. “Our new name recognizes the key role that Tod Kallenbach has played during the eight years since he joined our team. Tod’s inspiration and business acumen are integral to our company, and we plan to continue growing the business for many more years to come.” With ther new name comes a new logo, a new look and a new website.

Cronin and Company Promotes Wayne Raicik to Senior Vice President, Creative Director

Wayne Raicik has been promoted from vice president, associate creative director to senior vice president, creative director at Cronin and Company in Glastonbury. Raicik initially worked at the agency from 1984 to 1988 as art director. He later returned in 1997 as senior art director. He has served as vice president, associate creative director for the past four years. “Wayne has been the creative conscience for the agency for 19 years,” says Steve Wolfberg, principal and chief creative officer of Cronin. “He’s a passionate protector of the Cronin brand, making sure that everything we create is as good as it can be.” As senior vice president, creative director, Raicik is responsible for directing and overseeing all aspects of creative at the agency. Over the years, Raicik has won numerous awards for his creative work. Prior to Cronin, Raicik was senior art director at Mintz & Hoke. He holds a degree in illustration from Syracuse University.

Madison|Mott Celebrate 13 Years in Business

Madison|Mott of South Norwalk celebrate thirteen years in business, with a new website and a blog post by co-owner Luke Scott. “Through it all, we’ve endured, and evolved. We even changed our name, to better represent the way in which our firm, and distinctly different partner personalities, provide clients with a better balance of all this new technology, coupled with the classic advertising techniques required to build and sustain a successful brand.”

Ken DeLago of Wilton Featured in Communication Arts Typography Annual

Ken DeLago of Wilton, Design Director at Golf Digest / Condé Nast, has made it into the Communication Arts Typography Annual for his identity for Hertz Construction Company. Said Ken of the mark: “A two-man construction team makes up Hertz and the two Cs in the logo do double duty as the CC in Construction Company as well as representing the two men involved. The negative space creates the ‘H’ in Hertz. The stencil effect on the hand-drawn letters create a building block motif.”