Exploring the Role of a Graphic Designer

After nearly three decades of dedicated service as an agency designer, I made the decision to venture into the realm of self-employment. This transition prompted numerous inquiries from acquaintances and colleagues alike, all seeking clarity on the fundamental question: "What exactly do you do?"
Over time, immersed in the intricacies of my profession, I had almost forgotten that the term "Graphic Designer" often evokes confusion rather than understanding. It's a title that conjures up a myriad of questions: Do you specialize in websites? Social media? PowerPoint presentations? I've fielded them all. Allow me to shed light on my journey over the past thirty years and elucidate the essence of my craft.
To me, being a graphic designer transcends mere vocation; it is the essence of my identity, the heartbeat of my existence. From my earliest days in high school, where it was the sole subject I excelled in, to my college years spent immersed in the study of colour theory, composition, and the boundless world of typography, my path was clear. Yet, despite the comprehensive education I received, nothing quite prepared me for the realities of navigating tight deadlines or interpreting client feedback that often felt like a personal affront.
When the opportunity arose to join my first agency in 1994, I recognized it as a pivotal moment—an opportunity to bridge the chasm between passion and profession through firsthand experience.
Since those humble beginnings as the most junior member of the design team, my journey has been a tapestry woven with diverse experiences, each illuminating a different facet of the expansive realm of graphic design. It is this breadth of exposure that makes it challenging for many to grasp the full scope of my craft. Indeed, a cursory Google search defines graphic design as "the art or skill of combining text and pictures in advertisements, magazines, or books"—a definition that, while accurate, scarcely scratches the surface.
To illustrate the rich diversity within the field of graphic design, I present a selection of my work, showcasing a range of projects that exemplify various styles, techniques, and creative approaches.
Logos & Branding
The logo design and rebranding project for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon was a dynamic endeavour that perfectly blended the essence of the event with the identity of its new title sponsor, TCS. With TCS stepping in as the marquee sponsor, it was crucial for the logo design to align with their brand while also retaining its own distinctive look. The result was a captivating design that featured TCS's signature colour palette and typography, reflecting their commitment to innovation and technological prowess. Simultaneously, the logo retained its unique character by incorporating symbolic elements representing the marathon's connection to the vibrant Toronto waterfront and the spirit of endurance and community. The design struck a perfect balance, capturing the synergistic harmony between TCS and the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, propelling the event into an exciting new era while honouring its rich heritage.
Established in 1959, Coghlan's has grown into a household name within the camping accessory market. It was a pleasure to collaborate with a brand that resonates with every Canadian. Our endeavour was to revolutionize the camping experience online, infusing it with a vibrant colour scheme, distinctive iconography, and captivating photography. Navigating through a vast array of over 400 products necessitated meticulous attention to the website's information architecture, which proved pivotal to its success. The seamless layout flawlessly encapsulates the spirit of outdoor exploration, serving as a digital hub that mirrors the brand's unwavering dedication to dependable, adventurous camping gear.
Marketing Campaigns
"Find Your Element" is an enticing branding and social campaign by Tourism Squamish, beckoning visitors to embrace the allure of Squamish, regardless of the weather. This campaign invites adventure seekers to uncover their true connection with nature amidst the mist and rain-soaked landscapes that define Squamish. Whether it's hiking through fog-drenched forests, conquering rain-kissed peaks, or immersing in the mystical allure of waterfalls, Squamish promises unforgettable experiences in every weather condition. "Find Your Element" is an invitation to explore and let Squamish ignite your spirit, rain or shine.
Video Graphics
In the HEAD Team Ski Movie "Unified," the challenge was to encapsulate the team's spirit and energy into the graphic identity. By working closely with the directors, I infused the visuals with a sense of unity and camaraderie, enhancing the overall impact of the film.
In essence, if a visual representation incorporates elements of typography, illustration, or photography, it has been meticulously crafted by a graphic designer. These designs find application across an eclectic array of mediums, from traditional print media to digital platforms, from clothing and merchandise to the silver screen. It is this versatility that renders a definitive answer to the question "What is graphic design?" so elusive, as its interpretation varies greatly from one individual to the next.
As I embark on the next chapter of my journey, transitioning from esteemed design agencies to forging collaborative partnerships with visionary businesses and brands, I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to infuse fresh perspectives into creative endeavours. If you seek to elevate your brand's visual identity and engage audiences with compelling design solutions, I invite you to reach out. Let's embark on this journey together.
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