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Designer of the Week Brad Wofford loves spending his days managing a team of creatives for an in-house media team. When he’s not creative directing, he can be found freelancing, designing posters for his string band, and taking his own design skills to new heights.
Below, Wofford talks about the benefits of working in-house, his recent challenging experience designing an app, his 8 tips for designers today & more.
Name: Brad Wofford
Name of Studio/Firm: BW Design (Freelance) / Pine Cove Media (Day Job)
Location: Tyler, TX
How would you describe your work?
What I hope people see in my work is that it’s simple, conceptual, clever and fresh. That’s not always easy to do, and when it doesn’t happen for me, I usually don’t post it online.
Design school attended: Texas A&M – Commerce
Where do you find inspiration?
I like to take my kids to local festivals, events and other places like obscure taxidermy museums. I get inspired by people watching, texture finding, folk lettering, and mundane-beautiful mechanical carnival rides. Also, there’s dribbble.
Who are some of your favorite designers or artists?
I love Stefan Sagmeister for ideas out of left field and Paul Rand for bold, graphic simplicity. I also really connect with Edward Hopper’s paintings. They’re human, but sparse and simple. It’s almost like I’m looking at my favorite Instagram feeds … painted for me in a different era. Other than those, I’m really bad about following specific people. More often than not, I look at the work that is getting awards in the current design annuals. In this era of ornamental, victorian-inspired typography and illustration, I appreciate Aaron Draplin for carrying the “bold & simple” banner. His work has done a lot to inspire me not to be ashamed of the big bold graphic logo.
Do you have a favorite among all the projects you’ve worked on?
I honestly don’t think I could narrow it down to a favorite, and there are quite a few projects I’m just unable to comment on. I can say, however, that getting to do art for my personal music projects is incredibly satisfying and feels holistically creative as well as being a huge challenge. When I have time to spare, I design posters for my string band to promote our shows around East Texas and that’s just plain fun.
Is there a project that stands out to you as having been the biggest challenge of your career so far?
This past summer I collaborated with our software development team at Pine Cove Camps to design an app for parents to use while their kids were at camp. It allowed them to communicate with each other as well as integrated with camper-worn RFID bracelets to send photos of campers directly to their parents’ feeds. I was involved from an early stage on several levels, from original concept to the UI design of the app. It was challenging to design something that would be on iOS and Android, as well a thousand different-sized phone screens.
We wanted the app to reflect the existing Pine Cove branding but, in my mind it needed to feel more personal. Once I had a pretty solid design to run with, it was a challenge for the developers to come close to the original vision. In the end, we got tremendous positive feedback, but we still have a long way to go. This was my first time to help concept and design an app from start to finish and projects like this scare me, challenge me, and help keep my mind fresh.
Oh, and we hired 50+ college students to take the photos, create the videos, and write the blog posts that showed up in the app all summer. One of the benefits of working in-house, I guess!
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I really feel like I haven’t scratched the surface of things I’d like to do. About four years ago I accepted a job managing creatives and the creative output for an in-house media team. I hope to keep getting better as a designer. In my role as a creative director, I hope to continue to develop the creatives that I have the privilege of managing. I also think it would be cool to have my own design shop one day.
What’s your best advice for designers today?
1) Learn how to use type well.
2) Be nice to people.
3) Be competitive with your work.
4) Learn how to sell your work. If you don’t care, they won’t either.
5) Have a concept.
6) Options, options, options. Make sure you explore all of the possible solutions without getting hung up on your favorite too soon.
7) Keep at it.
8) Take a second to remind yourself that you get to do this for a living.
Bonus: Learn about Agile methodologies and how they can make creative teams more efficient, more creative, and more awesome.
Print’s Typography & Lettering Awards: Deadline Friday, November 20!
Do you design your own typefaces? Are you passionate about type-centric design work? Have you produced an excellent handlettered project? If so, we want to see your work. All too often, typeface designs, typographic designs and handlettering get overlooked in competitions—which is why Print developed a competition that gives the artforms their full due and recognizes the best designers in each category. Enter Print’s Typography & Lettering Awards today.