Craig Ward (@MrCraigWard) is a designer, art director, typographic artist, and author currently living in Brooklyn, NY. A UK native, he came to New York in 2009 shortly after being selected as an ADC Young Gun.
As a solo act, Craig created projects for Adobe, Squarespace, Calvin Klein, Google, Nike, and host of other large brands across entertainment, fashion, media, and consumer products. Lately, he’s rejoined the agency world.
In this conversation, we discuss the culture clash between a large company and a solo practice, the economics behind design (large and small), and where agencies can still innovate in spite of their size.
Catch up with Craig on his personal website, Words Are Pictures.
Cover photo by Jonathan Pilkington.
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- Download The Busy Creator Podcast, Episode 99 (MP3, 47:06, 22.8 MB)
- Download The Busy Creator Podcast, Episode 99 (OGG, 47:06, 24.9 MB)
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Show Notes & Links
- Prescott and Craig have been pals for several years due to the NYC design scene
- Joaquin Cotler, a guest on The Busy Creator episode 41 and composer of the theme music
- Craig is ok being called a “designer & art director”; he’s also directed music videos and earn other titles by action
- Solo practitioners are a “one-man army” due to their multiple facets
- The US O-1B Visa, for people, like Craig, “who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement … and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements …”
- How a Bill Becomes Law
“Solo practice is very liberating, but brings its own problems.”
“When you work for someone else, you can spend almost 100% of time working on projects. For yourself, it’s maybe 50%.”
“When freelance work became my full-time job I suddenly had free time.”
- Popular Lies About Graphic Design by Craig Ward on Amazon
- Craig’s first solo show
“I didn’t think at all about the financial aspects of solo work.”
- Grey advertising
“Big agencies are designed to spin wheels.”
“If you’re a creative person, you’re not supposed to be good at business stuff.”
- Intellectual Overhead vs. Property Overhead: anxiety, distraction, etc. rather than dollars
“When you work solo the highs are higher, but the lows are lower.”
- “Make hay while the sun shines” and other farming metaphors
- Eddie Opara, digitally-savvy partner at Pentagram
- Douglas Davis, previous guest on TBC
“In so many ways it’s a holiday to have a team.”
“At a certain point, agencies stop being creative companies and start being corporations.”
“Clients get the work they deserve.”
“The answers are not found in the office.”
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
- Mother, an agency which has Design and Advertising within it
- The Shadow Cabinet, in Parliament
- Skunk Works
“The barrier to entry to experimenting is lower than ever.”
“I worry that I’m spreading myself too thin, but I’d rather have a go than not.”
- Extrude nodes, chamfered edges – jargon of 3D printing and modeling
“We ran out of stuff to talk about … so we had a kid.”
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
“There’s real beauty in an eclectic team.”
- Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE)
- The Busy Creator Podcast episode 100 is coming!
- Craig Ward on Twitter
- Craig Ward on Instagram
- Craig Ward on Facebook
- Craig Ward on LinkedIn
- Use your “free” time for other long-term projects, like writing a book
- Keep “swiftness” in mind; build momentum at the start of projects
- Take on an agent to help even out the workloads
- Encourage your team to get out of the office and see things around the city
- Create a job number for excursions so you can track it; give yourself a time-budget per month
- Visualize your projects internally, and sketch when you have an idea in mind
- Be a “restless creative”, always be making something
- Aim for one fully-fledged, start-to-finish project in your portfolio per year
- Allow for Unconventional Inspiration (one of The 9 Habits of Highly Creative People)
- Build in separation between your home and work life; force a commute and specific hours
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