Amy Congemi

Insights: 6 Questions for Our Designers

By Amy Congemi on March 25, 2015

Whether it’s concepting a new TV ad or developing the most user-friendly mobile website experience, every integrated agency brings a special mix of people to the table.

That’s no exception here. More than 40 talented people call our Core office their “home away from home.” Every day, each of us adds our own unique ingenuity to the work we do for our clients.

An essential part of delivering a successful campaign or project is making the best use of all the different clever ideas and approaches we have. So, why not celebrate this?

I recently ran across an intriguing thought exercise from 5 Questions for 100 Designers. Drawing inspiration from it, and knowing the insights we gather daily from our team, I decided to put a little Core Creative spin on the idea and make our own.

Here are some of the highlights from the conversation I had with our designers.

1. What qualities do you think are necessary for a designer to have?
“They should be creative, understanding, thick-skinned, open-minded and logical. They need to be able to communicate well in order to both understand the objective of a project and present it in a way that will make sense. They should be open to suggestions, creative enough to come up with their own, and tough enough to get their ideas shot down – a lot.”
– Rachel Wolfman, Designer

“Creativity, criticism, communication, cooperation and confidence. It’s more than just being creative. It’s staying on top of things, continuing to learn and evolve in the industry and with your own personal talents. Good communication skills and the ability to cooperate with your team are very important; a team that doesn’t work well together won’t produce quality work. And, at the end of the day, having confidence in your work and yourself (and your team) makes all the difference.”
– Angela Fioretti, Art Director

“I think it’s important for a designer to be inquisitive and have a relentless need to understand all the different aspects of the design challenge. What is the purpose of that which you’re creating? Who is interacting with this piece of communication? If it’s about a product, how does it function and solve problems, and how do competitive products compare? Research, walkthroughs and industry understanding will help you come up with at least ONE interesting insight that YOU discovered, which will ultimately help create a deeper experience and interaction with what you’re designing.”
– Jerry Higgins, Creative Director

2. What do you believe is a designer’s first priority?
“The first priority on a project is to understand the objective – what needs to be accomplished. Design is more than the aesthetic; it’s strategic as well.”
– Beth Veglahn, Designer

“Number one should always be the design and its goals for the client. A design becomes its own thing—it doesn’t belong to any one person—and the team will build it together. Not just the creative team, but also the account and client teams.”
– Sara Neumann, Senior Designer

“Listening to the client’s wants and needs. You can create the most beautiful design, but if it doesn’t meet the needs of the client, it’s useless.”
– Monica Cerletty, Designer

3. How important is it to conduct market research to better understand a client and create a successful design?
“Research is extremely important in the creative process. We want to understand the brand, product or service the company is selling, as well as how the target market thinks, feels and acts. You can’t solve a problem without knowing exactly what the problem is … and a designer’s first priority is to “solve the problem.” Good creative is based on strategy and a solid concept. If you don’t have those to start with, you are just making something ‘pretty.’”
– Tom Ketterhagen, Senior Art Director

“Research is super-duper-mega important! It helps you understand the client’s positioning in the marketplace and allows us to put ourselves in their shoes a bit better. It’s a great way to start a project before the team jumps in.”
– Jennifer Cooley, Senior Art Director

“Any kind of consumer insight is gold to a creative – even if it’s simply asking a friend or family member who may identify within the target audience. You might learn something that you hadn’t thought of before, which could spark a really good idea.”
– Doug Schommer, Senior Art Director

4. What is the most important technical skill you have learned in your career?
“Print production. I worked as a student designer in college and we had to print our own plates for the print shop on campus. Knowing what went into the entire process—including seeing how things were printed—allowed me to create designs that not only worked creatively, but could actually be produced.”
– Beth Veglahn, Designer

“Using the Internet. Anytime I come upon something that I wish could be done easier, or something that is even remotely mysterious to me, usually a quick search online will reveal at least one thing that I didn’t know before.”
– Phil Fischer, Senior Designer

“Creating clear storyboards and concept boards. You want to make sure the work makes sense when you’re not there to sell it. Everyone who touches the piece should be able to understand your reasoning – whether they attended the original presentation or not. It’s important to be able to explain the concepts and designs (sometimes through enlisting the help of a copywriter) to ensure your vision is clear.”
– Angela Fioretti, Art Director

5. What is unique about how you tackle a design project?
“I like to bounce around – do some research, sketch out a few ideas, page through Communication Arts, jump on the computer, sketch out more ideas … then back to the computer … back and forth. I get to that point where I’m more than excited about where this project is going, I’m inspired.”
– Jerry Higgins, Creative Director

“I need music when I design. I also need a clean desk – I don’t know why … maybe it helps my ideas flow better, but I tend to create better projects when I have loud music and zero distractions or clutter on my workspace.”
– Kristen Zielinski, Designer

“I like to sketch and write down words that relate to the project. Things like the feelings I’m trying to elicit, key words about the project, the look I’m trying to attain (bold, airy, clinical, etc.), what the target audience may be feeling and what I want them to feel after they see the creative, what the problem is, what photography style might work, etc. I still have several sketchbooks from school and previous jobs. I can go back to those and remember the exact moment an idea was born, because I see the drawings and the words on the page that inspired me.”
– Tom Ketterhagen, Senior Art Director

6. In what ways are you creative outside your job?
“I’m a fan of simplicity and practicality, and that carries through the other parts of my life. So, while I’ve tried to nurture my crafting side, it often ends up feeling forced. I like to surround myself with a comfortable and uncluttered living space (which is funny, considering there are five humans and three animals in my house). Outdoor gardening gives me a bit of respite during the warmer months.”
– Regina Maline, Senior Designer

“I participate in an improvisational comedy group called Improv Limbo. We practice weekly and occasionally have shows for the public.”
– Phil Fischer, Senior Designer

“My husband and I are always coming up with projects. He designs and builds furniture, and I do interior decor/artwork to complement his work. We both work on computers all day, so it’s great to be able to create things by hand. And, it’s something we enjoy doing together, which is even more fun. I even got him to join Pinterest (my biggest vice) so we can share ideas and plan out our projects!”
– Amy Congemi, Designer