Submit Saturdays: crisp and confident work by graphic designer Casey Martin
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Welcome to Submit Saturdays, a year long series of articles in partnership with Squarespace. Squarespace. Be it a professional work website, a shop, a social enterprise or a site that hosts a personal project, Submit Saturdays will showcase the work of creatives around the world who use the online platform Squarespace. This is a great new opportunity to share your projects and ideas with our readers.
San Francisco-based graphic designer Casey Martin’s portfolio is packed with confident and stylish work. Having started his career in Chicago, the designer opened a studio this year and combines commercial work with projects for close friends and family. We caught up with Casey to talk about his work, career, website and plans for the future.
How did you become a graphic designer? Where did you study?
After college, I got a job at a big Chicago ad agency as an executive assistant. I’d stay up all night designing new business pitch presentations. One day I heard that the in-house design team was shorthanded and in a jam, so I volunteered to help. I loved working with real designers and knew that was what I wanted to do. So, over the next 18 months, I was an executive assistant by day and moonlighted with the design group, saying “yes” to every project I could get my hands on. I got to work closely with phenomenally talented people. That’s where I studied. My design education came through somewhat of an apprenticeship.
How would you describe your style? How do you approach each project?
Honestly, I struggle to describe my style. I always seek work that lets me explore a new aesthetic. Obviously, I want everything to be as effective, beautiful, and unique as possible. But I’d love to look back on my career and see only immense variety, because each project was tackled with something fresh that served a particular brief at a time.
How did you develop the identity for Arcadia Data?
It all started with creating a good brand mark; that came out of the ‘A’ that appears five times in the company name. Once I landed on a simple, ownable shape, it was easy to impose data visualization inside. Data’s interesting: you can express the same figures through pie charts, bar graphs, scatterplots, line charts, histograms… It became incredibly fun to just crate as many different brand marks as possible. Even as static images, they have so much movement. The animation of them was a natural extrapolation.
Can you tell us a little more about the "Random Stuff” page on your website?
It’s exactly that – just a bunch of random stuff. Some if it is stuff I made, really liked, but was never produced. Other stuff is just a small piece of an assignment that doesn’t warrant its own case study. I figured I’d make a place on my website to keep track of it all instead of letting it live on a hard drive in a drawer underneath my desk for the rest of time.
Whose work do you admire and where do you find your inspiration?
I think you get into a weird place listing specific work you admire. I will say that I’m really inspired by artists of any medium – musicians, painters, writers – who are prolific. The ones who constantly create, and find new ways to make and express. I’d love to get to a point where I’m releasing new projects regularly. Old design books are great too. It’s inspiring to see things made decades ago that are still beautiful and relevant.
How did you approach the design of your portfolio on your website?
There’s not a lot of upfront, or song and dance. I chose to keep it very simple and have the work front-and-center, speaking for itself. If people want to learn more about me, that’s easy to find too. I expect visitors are there for the work and I hope that the thumbnails intrigue.
Which of the projects that you showcase on your site was most challenging and why?
The Asana work. It was much different working in-house for a client. You often work with business school grads instead of creative directors, and it’s a learning curve trying to translate their aesthetic feedback when they speak a very different language. I found it challenging to have an assignment of rebuilding an online identity where brand assets and corporate identity were off-limits. There wasn’t a lot of flexibility with content or colours – it was mostly UI, and didn’t have much room for a graphic designer’s opinion. I gained a lot of respect for in-house designers. I’m not well suited to that side of the business. I’m glad I did it, though. Learning how those places think internally has made me so much better at understanding what they’re looking for and how to develop successful presentations and working relationships.
What are you currently working on? What are your plans for the future?
Right now, I’m working on a rebrand for a tech company, creating a new brand for a startup, rebranding a leather goods company and also trying to wrap up a logo for a friend who’s a photographer. And my wife is an interior designer, so we’re starting to collaborate to create an interesting business together, which is exciting. I love doing work to help entrepreneurial friends, but you have to strike a balance and devote working hours to the clients who keep you afloat. As for the future: I ended 2015 working less in other design studios and starting to service clients from my home office. Things got off to a good start and at the beginning of 2016 I’d gotten busy enough to open my own studio space. I’m not setting any sort of goals for growth or anything; I want to just keep busy making good design, and collaborating with interesting people and businesses.
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