Tag Archives: creative

Is the age of fifty and over the end of a design career?

Recently, I got a save the date card from Pratt announcing a reunion for my graduating class of 1989. Reality sank in—it’s been 25 years since I graduated college. Holy fuck!

Andrew Bass Through the Years

I remember being that ambitious, bright-eyed design graduate looking to make my way into the design world with such energy and drive. My dream was to be an art director working at a big company, traveling for photo shoots, mingling at company parties, building a network of creative allies and maybe one day run my own studio all while doing something that I loved. Looking at the calendar, I’m reminded its around 20 days away from my 47th birthday. I’ve realized that many of the things I dreamt about as that young graduate have came true. But I also realize that some have yet to see the day of light. There’s still much I want to do and learn as a creative but there is an undercurrent that I am beginning to feel—it’s the age concern.

I AM APPROACHING 50.

In the past decade, I have seen the industry shift to a younger mindset for design leadership in all creative disciplines and discarding experienced creatives (i.e. older) as stagnant, out-of-touch and irrelevant. This weighs on my mind more recently now as I see the pages drop off the calendar. Reading Commarts.com, I came across a link talking about this same idea (click here). Ask yourself, at your place of work how many creatives are employed with you that are over 50? So many places value youth as being the only innovators, the only ones interested in new technologies, the only ones willing to learn or try new directions. That’s so short sighted as we turn into a country that is dismissing a large segment of our population.

At the story link points out, unless you are a studio owner or high-position creative, you don’t see many mid-level creative over a certain age given the same latitude and tools as a younger creative. Thanks to my parents’ genetics, most folks have no clue about my age and guess it at 10 to 12 years younger. I keep up-to-date with the latest trends and tech not because I need to but because I can’t exist without it. I equate it to air—you can’t breathe without it. Now add to the mix, the issue of race and gender. Fuck all you naysayers; this is a stone-cold hard fact of our society. If you are older, white and male, you will have it tough. If you are older and non-white (male or female), it just got unbelievably difficult.

Don’t believe me, can you name at least three designers over 50 who are white? Now, name three who are non-white, male or female and over 50? Bet you it’s easier to name three older white designers without much trouble but hit a wall the other way round. (Look at the gallery and see if you know their names.)

Three white over 50 designersThree non-white over 50 designers

Tony Gable (gable206.com), Crystal McKenzie (cminyc.com) and Archie Boston (archbosgd.com) all happen to run their own shops and have distinguished themselves in the industry although they don’t receive the same recognition as their counterparts above. How often do you hear their names in lectures and publications compared to Milton Glaser, Paula Scher and Kit Hinrichs? Be honest.

So, what are the options if you don’t run your own studio or a high-level creative? Going into academics in one possible avenue. Freelancing might be on the table but poses this question, if one won’t hire you as an older full-time employee why would they hire you as a freelancer? Changing career paths when older might be a consideration but that present a new series of obstacles that might bring you back to the original age problem. Many of us will face this dilemma in the coming years and I hope the tide strengthens for the value of experience when we do cross that road. You would tend to think, creativity has no age limit but sadly, business seems to have an expiration date on age.

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A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

Hey all, I hope you have been doing well. My last post was a few months back and I apologize for that. It’s been hectic with a new job search, my kids’ activities, the occasional freelance project and just general house duties. With all that going on, I realized that I can’t maintain all the social portals I signed up for trying to stay up-to-date. So I cleaned house and closed a few of them so no more Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and I am rethinking my Facebook page. SoulFul Design, however, will get much more of my attention.

You will notice a refresh of the blog and I will commit to posting new content at least twice a week. So for today, it will be a smattering of recent tidbits that I came across over these few months. So as Captain Picard would say, “Engage.”

Inneract Project websiteINNERACT PROJECT
People of color are not plentiful in the creative field. One of the ways to change that is to introduce design to students of color in schools that normally wouldn’t have the exposure. Maurice Woods is one designer who is doing something about it. Maurice is a highly recognized graphic designer based out of the San Francisco area who is the founder and executive director of Inneract Project. Their mission is to provide free design education to inner-city youth and their communities, to serve as a facilitator to aspiring career designers and to mentor youth to pursue higher education. The more we can expose our children to the value of design, the more representation we can have for our communities and their visual voice.

Rob Vargas and Bloomberg coversBLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK
Yes, that Bloomberg. Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg of NYC always had a day job even as the mayor. He owns Bloomberg Media and one of his properties is Bloomberg Businessweek. This monthly magazine is celebrated for its edgy and irreverent publication design. It recently appointed Rob Vargas as its new Creative Director. He had been with the magazine as one of its founding members of their creative team but he now carries the official title as the creative head. He worked at the New York Times Magazine, Blender, New York and Details magazines.

Arem DuplessisAPPLE JUST GOT COOLER
Arem Duplessis is a design leader that has led some prestigious teams. His design skills are top-notch with innovative solutions and thought-provoking visual tones. He’s been behind the design scene at Spin and GQ magazines. Apple is a company that epitomizes cool and forward thinking in relation to design. Mix them together and you have a dynamite combo of super coolness. Arem joined Apple’s internal marketing team leaving the Design Director chair at the New York Times Magazine. I, for one, can’t wait to see the fantastic campaigns Arem will integral in shaping. Apple just made itself even cooler.

Adobe New Creative Is Spotlighting Fresh Creatives

In the morning, I have to do several things before I start my day. First, I must have my coffee. Second, I must have a good breakfast. Third, I must scan my design bookmarks.

It’s that third ritual in which I read about some new designers being spotlighted by Adobe in their campaign for Creative Cloud, New Creative. What intrigued me was the nice diversity of creatives they were showcasing. Blow me away in a very positive way. One such creative is Gavin Campbell. He’s an illustrator and graphic designer based in the UK—London to be specific. He works delves into a lot of lighting work that is just simply amazing.

He along with a few other designers are giving these talks about their work, careers and how Creative Cloud is a part of that. Pretty damn cool as I’ve been eyeing the campaign for a bit and like how they shine the various creative disciplines. Now I wish I could just buy a plane ticket and fly over to the UK, hang out for a few days and catch the presentations. Alas, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. However, Adobe has to be commended for the way they are trying to help all of us creatives bring our ideas to life. Most certainly, they have their faults as any every expanding company does. I myself have had issues with them from programs to price structures that made me smack my head wondering what were they thinking? But you can’t say they are not our greatest supporters. For that, Adobe stands above so many other companies in the creative industry and this series of profiles is another example of them setting the bar.

Thanks Adobe and looking forward to the next innovations you create and support.

Latina’s Got Its Sexy Back!

ebby_headshotWhen I worked at Essence Communications, a new partnership was formed to develop a bilingual magazine for Hispanic women called Latina. Being in the right place at the right time, I got to see some of the prototype pages and media kit. It was pretty exciting and the design work was really eye-catching. My fingers were crossed that it would be huge success. The magazine launched and was well received. It was exciting to see because here was a magazine speaking to Hispanic women about their issues and their wants instead of just adopting what was in the mainstream women’s magazine to suit them. I pretty much can say everyone feels good when they see themselves reflected in anything they are reading, watching or hearing in the media.

So it was long overdue for the American marketplace to support and encourage a project like this. As time went on, the design evolved. The layouts were more elegant, the art direction of the photo spreads were more conceptual and smart and the pace was engaging. The art director was Ebelinda Antigua. She developed the art direction and gave it such a classy, high-end fashion feel but coupling it with some fun. I eagerly anticipated the arrival of each new issue at the newsstand every month. Eventually, Ebelinda moved onto new opportunities and landed at Working Mother magazine where she brought here design magic to their pages and brand. Continue reading Latina’s Got Its Sexy Back!

Closing The Digital Divide

Technology represents an industry where people of color can create some equality both from an economic and employment perspective. At least that’s the idea. The reality is there aren’t many people of color of either gender in the tech industry, especially black and latino folks. There are numerous reasons for this—some which are out of our control and some well within our control—but my focus here is to introduce you to a person who has taken control of the situation to make it better for others.

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Remember this name ANGELA BENTON. She is real a doer and is proving to be a force in the tech world. She’s a graphic designer who was working in both print and web but evolved more into the digital creative space. She founded a company called BlackWebMedia. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Angela in person, only on-line, but she has really impressed me. Her motivation, tenacity and drive is something I envy in a good way. She created an incubator program out in Silicon Valley called New Me Accelerator. Their mission is quote “…a 12 week immersive residential tech start-up accelerator for businesses that are led by under-represented minorities (African-Americans, Latinos & Women) in the technology industry.” Black Enterprise and CNN have prominently featured her and her program. There are folks who talk about leveling the playing field yet do nothing about it. Angela is not only doing something about it, she is making positive, tangible inroads in the technology sector. She is blazing a path for us to follow as this is the way our communities can get ahead of the game instead of just be bit players.

Pass the word and follow Angela’s example and pass forward the opportunities you have to someone else so they can make new ones. Kudos to Angela and looking forward to seeing more of what you do.