Art Director & Graphic Designer / Co-Founder of Grafikisto
Los Angeles, CA
What do you do?
I’m an art director and graphic designer + the co-founder of Grafikisto, a full-service branding and design studio. We get hired to provide creative consulting and produce brand identities, including logos, websites, print and digital marketing materials, photography, and promotional videos.
What steps did you take to get where you are now?
Since as long as I can remember I had always known I would pursue a career in a creative field, and fairly early on I chose graphic design. Upon graduating high school I went to Otis College of Art and Design to get my BFA. During my time at Otis I took on internships and freelance jobs to get a feel for what it meant to work as a graphic designer. I graduated and landed a full-time position as junior designer at Incase Designs. For two years I worked long hours, designing as well as fulfilling other roles like photo retouching, overseeing packaging production, and season forecasting. Later, I got hired as a senior designer by NBCUniversal to work under one of their divisions. Six months into the job the art director that hired me left and I pursued the art director role - and got it! In the six years that followed I would form, manage, and work alongside multidisciplinary teams to conceptualize and develop a multitude of print, web and motion projects. Working at a company of that size allowed me the opportunity to work with talent of all levels and disciplines, from directors, designers and prop stylists, to artists, photographers, actors and musicians.
Grafikisto came to be the moment I realized I was ready to align myself further with people, environments, and projects I find engaging in some way. I've taken on this fantastic challenge under the umbrella of a design studio I co-founded with my ma – a fellow creative, project-manager-extraordinaire and inspiring force.
For other people in your field, what do they usually lack?
Adaptability. One has got to stay on one’s toes, and not let complacency, or stubbornness to change... err grow, render you irrelevant. I believe to have a long and fulfilling career one must always brush up on skills, learn new ones, and stay curious.
What are you working on right now?
Mostly, at the studio we’re working with existing and new clients to realize their branding and identity elements.
As far as projects on the table, we’re in the middle of a rebrand for a Los Angeles contemporary art gallery that has got me really excited with the way it’s shaping up. We’re designing the stationery for a t.v. network that gave us the room and trust to pitch bold concepts, which is the best spot to be in with a new client. We’re also creating print and social media materials, along with signage and stage backdrop designs for a conference's second year, launching march 2016, one which we did the branding for its first year's debut in 2015.
On a different scale but just as fun for us, we’re developing the branding, website and stationery for a couple of solopreneurs – a prop stylist/event designer, and a Colombian personality/environmentalist.
I’ve also been collaborating with Nuhr Studio on a series of self-generated videos. Right now we are flushing out the last details before we begin shooting.
We are all Slashies with multiple skills, which one do you wish you could do more often?
Photography. Specifically, still-life photography. I’ve been doing some of it as a way to experiment with light, textures and composition, and have found that if it were up to me I could dedicate an absurd amount of hours to it and love every minute of it.
Still life from @grafikisto on Instagram.
What is frustrating you right now?
Effectively communicating the value of the work we do.
What task keeps landing at the bottom of the To Do list?
Creating a newsletter for our website. Have plenty to share but I. simply. need. to get it. done.
If you could hire someone for $20/hour, what would you have them do to make your day easier?
Programing and a bit of design.
Or, someone who can write copy for our site, promo pieces (and future newsletter!), projects, social media, pitches, proposals and a few client-facing documents.
Let's bring out the time machine. What do you wish you could have told yourself, when, and why?
That one day I’d have the ambition to launch my own studio, and given that all my education and experience was heavily focused on doing creative work I should complement my background by getting the how-tos of running a business part down earlier. Also, talk myself out of writing run on sentences.
What kind of opportunities/projects are you looking for?
Identity and branding projects are always at the top of my list, side by side with art direction jobs. I’ve gotten to do a few lookbooks from the direction to design and have absolutely loved the experience – more, please!
What is your ideal client?
If you are ready to launch your project, product or business and have everything figured but need help with its identity, branding and/or design, come on over! I love working with decisive people who are willing to see our collaboration as a partnership, and want me to succeed at the task at hand as much as I do. Organized and committed folks are a huge plus.
Do you allow yourself to say No?
Oh, do I? I’ve learned the hard way to not dismiss that gut feeling telling you something is off. Also, there must be a mutual respect between both parties for me to say ‘yes’ to anything. By the same token, if I sense a lack of respect towards my person, my efforts, my time and/or the work being done that is a deal breaker.
What is your rate?
I prefer value-based pricing, therefore the pricing range changes between projects.
I only apply an hourly rate when I’m hired as a long term consultant. In this case my salary range starts at $85,000 +
Also open to trade for the right project.
How should someone approach you about working together?
Hopefully they've visited our site before deciding to contact us. If they did and liked what they saw I prefer a short email with some info on the project along with a tentative timeline or deadline.
This member profile was originally published in November 2015.