Please share a summary of yourself and your career "in a nutshell" to help introduce you to the community.
I'm an Atlanta based full stack designer with a heavy focus on branding, UI/UX & web design. Ever since I was young, art and design have always been my passion. I went to school for graphic design and quickly realized that the only way I could work in this industry was to learn the web. Over the last 10 years, I have spent time perfecting my craft and working with various clients including TAO Group, ESPN Images, Starbucks and Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen. I enjoy helping brands and businesses establish a strong visual representation through carefully crafted design.
In The Beginning:
1. Can you remember who or what gave you the idea to begin a career in design?
Design has always been a part of my life. Ever since I was young, I would sit and draw cartoons. Believe it or not, I used to want to work for Walt Disney before I begin designing for the web.
2. What was the first website you were involved in designing and / or developing and how well did it go?
The first website I did was for a small doctors office in Atlanta. I sold the project on my own and had no idea how to code. With drive and lots of determination, I spent the next 40 days learning and working through problems. Somehow or another, the site ended up looking pretty nice and the client was happy. From then on I continued to take challenges and learn as much as I could on the web.
3. How would you describe your career thus far? Is it all going to plan or is there no plan?
Last year I left my creative director position at another agency to start Visual Soldiers. Everything is going great so far and we have had a tremendous amount of growth in a short period of time. This year, I am also going to be focusing more on my brand, United Strands and theme company, Theme Armada.
4. What career advice would you give to yourself if you could send yourself a "temporal text" 5-10 years into the past?
Nothing happens overnight. Keep learning, following your gut and taking on bigger challenges even if they scare the hell out of you.
1. What are your favorite aspects about working in design?
I would have to say the amount of fun that we have during our projects is one of the biggest reasons why I love the design industry. Everyday is exciting for us because we take on projects that we're interested in. Another big reason is the gratification we receive from producing great work each day.
2. If you could pick only one favorite project from your experience thus far, which would it be and why?
We just finished up a complete overhaul of the brand, web and mobile UI design for fitradio.com. This was a really challenging project but a perfect fit for our team to take on. We love music, apps and the fitness world so we naturally had a strong relationship with this project. The end result turned out amazing.
3. What would be your favorite trend in web design and development from the last 5 years?
I really like flat design because I am more minimal by nature. I have always tried to bring more creativity and lifestyle into our projects as well by using imagery and bold type.
4. Are there any favorite trends you would like to see more of in 2016?
I am starting to really like depth in website design and have always loved creative typography placements. "When typography is on point, words become images." - Shawn Lukas
1. Did you always want to work in the creative industries or did you consider any other career options?
Does anyone know what they want to do in life? I actually did everything else before going back to a career in design. I have a strong sales background which is where my entrepreneurial spirit comes from and a strong music/art background, which is where my creativity comes from.
2. Do you have a good work and life balance or is it a work in progress? Any tips?
I'm a Libra, we can balance anything, ha. I learned once that there are three things in this world that have to be aligned to be consistently happy - work, life and money. I focus everyday to keep these in alignment. If one tends to fall, it greatly effects the other avenues. The balance is extremely important.
3. What advice would you give to younger professionals wanting to find success in design?
Find your niche and know who your client is. When you're first starting out you'll want to take on every project that comes across your door. As time goes by, learn how to say "no" if the project is not right. It leaves the door open for you to find something that you will enjoy working on.
4. If you had all the money you would ever need, what would you do with your life?
Probably the same thing I am doing now, but on a larger scale. I really love the excitement of opening new companies or startups and serial entrepreneurship. I would probably position our company to open new ventures and sell them once they were launched.
1. What type of projects and what industries do you prefer to work in?
We love UI design projects and tend to prefer technology, lifestyle, sports and other creative industries.
2. What memorable challenges or highlights have you experienced from the projects you have worked on?
Almost every project we take on is a memorable challenge. It's the only way to stay innovative. I think a big highlight for my career happened after being in the industry for about 5 years. Every project seemed to completely come together quickly from conception through design and code. Being able to take an idea from design to implementation by yourself is a powerful thing. It wasn't until then, that I realized, I was good at what I did.
3. What are your, or your company's, greatest strengths?
Our team has a very strong design process. Our biggest strength is being able to create visual ideas from a black and white document and building a vision from the ground up.
4. What is the latest project you worked on or what are you working on right now?
The latest project we just finished up was for Fit Radio.
Jeff is the owner/creative director at Visual Soldiers, an award winning creative agency dedicated to building cutting-edge website experiences and brand identities that tell a story.