How many AIGA 50 awards have you been recognized for?
A lot, maybe over thirty? We can’t remember for sure but we’ve been submitting since we opened the firm in 2003.
Why do you submit to AIGA 50?
Because we like to win, of course! One of the reasons we enter work to the AIGA 50 competition and also to a lot of other competitions, is because we like to support the organizations. That’s how they build revenues for shows and things like that. We always set aside a very healthy budget every year for competitions. Getting recognition is also very important, especially locally. It is a good boost to win something. We always tell our team that if it’s good work, we’ll enter it all. If we have twenty pieces worth entering, we do it. Our team works hard and they should be recognized for their creativity.
How do you select the work you would like to submit?
Whatever’s good. We try to submit a variety of work across all categories all the time, which comes easy because we do so many different things. Sometimes we edit the best of the best. When we have five or six good brochures, if we put them on the table and we know that two of them are stronger than the rest, so we pick those because in the end, they do end up competing against each other.
How do you know when you’ve arrived at a strong solution to a design problem?
There are different ways to look at it. From a design perspective, we don’t think everything is quite done, that’s why you have deadlines. We measure from the business side and the success from the client’s perspective. Is the client coming back with more work or are they recommending us to friends? If they do, that’s a good sign. We don’t really know if a piece is successful until after it’s done, or when we get it back from the printer. When the client is happy we’re happy. But if it’s vice versa, it’s still not a successful project. As a designer, you have to have a high mark for yourself and do it for both yourself and the client.
Collaborating is fun. It’s a constant change and it’s exciting to shuffle things around.
What keeps Design Army’s creativity flowing?
We just keep doing it. It never really stops. It’s an ongoing stream of stress and creativity all rolled in together. We do a variety of projects so we never know what type of project will walk in the door next. Sometimes we work on web, packaging, local and global projects; we collaborate a lot for photo shoots with photographers, stylists, models etc. Collaborating is fun. It’s a constant change and it’s exciting to shuffle things around.
How do you balance studio life from personal life?
You don’t. If you really, truly love what you do, you do it and don’t have to balance what you do. If you separate them, one will suffer so you just combine them. Our daughter pretty much comes to our office every day after school and you should see her—she has her own little station. She gets to go with us everywhere, including photo shoots. She’s probably been to more than anyone in the office has except for us. She really enjoys going to shoots and she’s going to grow up a very diverse and well-rounded person. You fail if you can’t separate work and time and for us, there is just not enough time to separate the two.
Where do you see Design Army ten years from now?
Ten times more amazing. We don’t know what that is, but it will be better. Up until we decide that it’s time to retire, I don’t see our studio as slowing down. We are constantly looking for the next big thing, whether it’s focusing or shifting on the iPad, rethinking the way we interact with the client base or how do we can deliver more.
This year, we are highlighting 50 Reasons You Are a Designer (some silly, some serious) on our Call for Entries poster. Why are you a designer?
Pum: Because it made me very happy and it paid my mortgage.
Jake: Because I suck at math.