Nate Voss (@Vossome) has lived numerous lives as a designer and creative. First a traditional graphic designer, he spent several years as a freelance illustrator and designer before joining digital marketing & advertising agency VML. Since then, he’s moved into mobile and app design, exploring software development workflows and agency culture up close.

Our conversation meanders across a variety of topics, discussing the transition from agency life to freelance (and back), the culture shock of working in a large organization, and even the type of architecture that best suits a mixed team.

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“Michael Bierut is Graphic Design's Cool Uncle”

—Nate Voss

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“Art Director is both a rank and a job.”

—Prescott Perez-Fox

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  • Art Director can have different definitions across advertising, branding, film, fashion, etc.
  • New terms for designers focused on digital include “visual designer”, “lead creative”, “UI/UX designer”
  • Nate’s favourite feature of LinkedIn is that you can’t “creep” unless you pay; all visits to profiles are public
  • Nate’s official title is “Senior Channel Manager for Mobility”, whatever that means
  • Microsoft has odd titles, including “Corporate Vice-President of Corporate Communications
  • Military-style hierarchies in corporations
  • “The Hollywood Model” of building a team
  • Voltron (WARNING: May cause seizures)
  • Nate leapt into self-employment suddenly, had to teach himself new skills as the needs appeared

“Being self employed means you must be a jack of all trades and a master of at least a few.”

—Nate Voss

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“Moving back to the agency world was a bit of a culture shock.”

—Nate Voss

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“Dress like a bourgeois, think like a revolutionary.”

—Tibor Kalman paraphrasing Gustave Flaubert to Michael Bierut

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“A suit is the uniform of the economically viable.”

—Prescott Perez-Fox

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Tools

Techniques

  • Learn to nap, especially if you work from home and have the flexibility
  • Codify and create a system of storing and backing up files
  • Don’t use job folders; train yourself to “just know”
  • Build “alignment teams” within your agency
  • Break down the walls between creative, accounts, project management and other departments (this can be literal, in the architectural sense, as well as metaphorical)
  • Agile development process
  • Bring team members together in a separate office to unify workflow
  • Don’t show multiple options; it only confuses clients and causes anxiety
  • Watch TED talks as a guideline for presenting to clients
  • Use your iPad for scheduling and communication on the go
  • Ditch Adobe software and use specific, lightweight tools instead
  • Use Keynote to prototype apps on the iPhone. Basic animation goes a long way.

Habits

  • Work lean, eliminate big clunky meetings and examine your process
  • Evaluate any design options for three criteria: satisfy my creative needs, satisfy the client’s goals, perform well in the marketplace
  • Once you build up a rapport with a client, push each other on the creative presentation
  • Wake up at 5:00 and play Destiny
  • Read before work

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About the author: Prescott Perez-Fox

Prescott Perez-Fox is a New York-based graphic designer and brand developer with 17+ years experience in branding, packaging, graphic design, and web design. He runs The Busy Creator.

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