"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” — Vincent Van Gogh
Rev your engines, ladies, and gents, because we've got the man behind all those drool-worthy Mercedes-Benz ads here to spill his career-building secrets.
Justin Jackson shares his top tips for growing as a designer, the projects of his own that he's loved working on, and his unexpected advice for beating designer's block.
DesignRush: What inspired you to go into design/art direction?
Justin Jackson: I've always been fascinated by billboard ads and posters. What sparked an interest in design was a graphic art class I took in high school. It was the only class that inspired me to do something ambitious. Then I went to college to pursue a Bachelors in Communication Design. During my academic career, I used my talents on many different types of freelance projects. This helped me figure out what aspect of design I enjoyed.
DR: What projects of your own are you particularly proud of?
JJ: The projects that I am proud of is a Branding Identity/Advertising Campaign for an automotive client. It was the best of both worlds cars and design, so I was very passionate about every piece that was created. It was my first year starting my professional career. I would put in 10-hour workdays to deliver nothing but the best.
Another project I'm proud of is what I'm doing now: Storytelling for Mercedes-Benz USA website. The entire process from start to finish is very in-depth, from picking out just a few hero angles from hundreds to creating a unique story catered to each model car. We do all this without the help of a camera.
DR: Take us through your creative process.
JJ: I remember what Bob Gill told my colleagues and me to do — "Experience your product or service." Everything will fall into place once you truly understand what you are creating. Learn everything there is about your competitors, then go do something you enjoy doing to forget about it all. Let your subconscious do the heavy lifting. This relieves your body and mind of stress. Presto! The imaginary idea bulb shines brightly.
DR: What are a few of your favorite design tools?
JJ: A pencil and paper give you the freedom to create anything. Adobe Kuler or any color scheme generator is an essential tool for any artist. Color is the basis of communicating any form of an idea. I also like to use Photoshop to mock-up quick comps.
DR: What designers or brands speak to you?
JJ: A designer that speaks to me would be Johnathon Quintin, who leads StudioJQ. The projects they create are truly a treat to your eyes. StudioJQ understands the language of color.
A brand that speaks to me would be Honda. They are great at telling a memorable story. Their commercials are imaginative and always keep you engaged.
DR: You have the day off. What can we find you doing?
JJ: You can find me building and racing cars, visiting art galleries or museums and traveling.
DR: Is there anything that helps you beat designer’s block?
JJ: Meditating and totally forgetting about the problem for a moment is a great outlet. It helps to clear my mind. Listening to music also helps my ideas evolve into something interesting.
DR: Any final thoughts, comments, or words of wisdom you’d like to share with someone in the industry?
JJ: My advice would be to never stop learning and investing in yourself. Being successful requires being proactive and not waiting for life to come to you. This means always playing offense, not defense. You need to be active, not passive.
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