- Written by: Amanda Talbot
Breathing New Life into Design
This week we spent time with graphic designer Zach Norman.
Norman isn't your average, 24 year old, full time, graphic and brand designer. He listens to Smooth McGroove and old Super Mario Bros. soundtracks while storming up brand ideas and simultaneously planning to release his own board game, designed specifically for creatives - later this year. He grew up in a military family, moving around the country before landing in Texas after high school. His work ethic and talent gained him an internship, which lead to a full time position after interning for a mere few months with Real Graphics. Today, we snagged a moment with the artist:
ArtUp: First things first - please introduce yourself to our readers.
ZN: Hey! My name is Zach Norman. I am a full time graphic designer residing in Lufkin, Texas.
AU: How did your career in graphic design and brand design begin?
ZN: My interest in graphic design stemmed from dabbling with Photoshop through high school. I was making album artwork and things for my own music project, as well as for other local musicians. I started seriously pursuing design at San Antonio College and finished with my associate degree in graphic design at Angelina College here in Lufkin.
While I was attending AC, I came across a local design/print shop in search for some type of work opportunity. At the time they weren’t looking for new hires or interns. Ironically, it all came full circle later on, when the owners came to AC to judge student design portfolios (including mine). My work stood out the most from my peers’ and that’s what landed me an internship.
This is when things kicked into overdrive and got really exciting. Here I am, working on all these different projects learning so much not only about design, but about the production side of things. Within a few months, I had worked my way up to a full time position and now here I am going strong on my third year with the company.
AU: What company do you work for in Lufkin?
ZN: The company I work for here is called Real Graphics; we're basically a one stop shop for businesses big and small. We handle projects of all types from logo design, print media, websites, vehicle wraps, signage, promotional items, etc. I'm coming up on my third year with the company and I can say that it has been an awesome and rewarding experience working with not only a great team, but a great local community as well. It hasn't always been sunshine and rainbows, but it's never made me question my career choice either.
AU: What is your creative process like?
ZN: First and foremost in my process is the design brief. This is the introductory meeting with the client when we discuss who they are, their needs, goals, target audience and other details that are important when working with logo design and branding.
From there, I go into a phase of jotting down keywords and making rough illustrations based on these keywords. This helps me make connections and come up with potential concepts.
Once I’ve got a good number of ideas on paper, I’ll work them out in Illustrator. As I’m working towards the end version of a concept that I’m satisfied with, I’ll keep copies of the different iterations that led to that result off to the side of my art board. Doing this is useful, just in case I get to a point where I need to go back a few iterations and work in a different direction from that step.
When I’m ready to present my concepts to the client, I like to recap on our discussions first. Then present my ideas one at a time and really highlight the strengths of each one. I also like to show off smaller color and layout variants for each to show off versatility. After all that is said and done, and if there are no revisions needed, I send an organized .ZIP folder of files to the client and move on to the next big thing.
AU: What is the most unusual brand you have designed?
ZN: I’m not sure about unusual per say, but one of the more unique projects I’ve had the pleasure of working on is a logo design for Boldness Test. They are an organization based in Dallas, Texas that helps creatives find their calling through blogging. The phrase that kept coming up in our initial talks was along the lines of “we’re helping creatives climb their mountain,” hence the mountains visual in their logo.
WE'RE HELPING CREATIVES CLIMB THEIR MOUNTAIN
AU: Where did the name “Revitalized Studio” come from? Is there a story there?
ZN: The definition of revitalize is basically “to imbue with new life,” which I think really does capture the essence of my line of work. Just to clarify, this was a freelance alias I ran with during the earlier years of my design career. Nowadays, I am simply using my name in combination with a minimalistic monogram logo, as I feel that it’s simply more personal.
AU: What has been the biggest challenge of your career?
ZN: One of the bigger challenges that I’m facing lately is making time for personal projects. This is really something I want to get better with because I feel personal projects are super important. It’s fun and rewarding to work on something for myself and I think it helps promote creativity.
AU: Do you have a playlist you listen to when you design?
ZN: This may sound funny. When I'm in work mode, my go-to music playlists include 80's pop, movie soundtracks (Star Wars specifically), video game soundtracks and chill hip-hop beats. Instrumental stuff especially helps me focus more on what I'm doing.
AU: What brands do you most admire?
ZN: Welp, here in Lufkin, we recently got a Pie Five (says, sarcastically). If you’ve never been, it’s a build your own style pizza restaurant chain, but it’s damn good. Not only that, but I really enjoy how they’ve branded the place. You’ve got this modern look with a catchy, fun theme to it that I think appeals to the younger lunch crowd. Plus, from the design and the wording of their advertisements to what you see when you walk inside -- it all ties together nicely.
"Consistency is what, in part, makes a strong recognizable brand."
AU: What are you currently working on?
ZN: I’ve got an upcoming project that my mind has been stuck on for a while now. All I can say for now is that it’s a newly owned pizza restaurant in a small town. Being an avid pizza lover, I’m super hyped to take on this rebranding project.
I’ve also been working on a fun board game geared towards the creative folks like me. My goal with this is to do a limited run of these to sell to the public.
Norman's advice to other aspiring designers?
"Keep an open mind and always give 110% . Show off the work that you're most proud of, even if some of it didn't go anywhere."