Some people hate the word "production."
I have to say, back then when I was in my junior year in college I was a big fan of Nike. Anything Nike design - I am obsessed. From the packaging, digital, experiential, storefront and maybe even shoe-lace design - the whole nine yards. Bagboy is one the brands that I was working during my internship back then, and I remembered telling myself I will have my time to transform BagBoy to a Nike brand. Now, that was a huge undertaking - so I calibrated my expectations to a maybe a sliver of a Nike brand.
I tried. Hard. I researched how design agencies like Hort, Huge and RGA executed Nike projects and I was overwhelmingly excited. You see Dynamic Brands, the parent company of BagBoy is a humble-small-company in the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia. It doesn’t have the resources of a behemoth athletic company. But for me, I saw it as an opportunity to be creative with my resources. I knew it would take time. Well, I was a patient designer. Armed with ramen noodles for sustenance, and The Killers “Runaway” album- I felt like I was into something.
The design team back then was a team of three. It consisted of a marketing director, an art director and me. We did everything - I mean everything. Logos, decals, packaging for golf carts- all the way to banners. I enjoyed it too actually. And the cool thing was I will always have a love affair with the Chinese New Year. The company always interacted with our Chinese partners, and I always looked forward when my CEO brought back Chinese candies and goodies from Shenzen or Hangzhou ( I am not sure if those are the right name of the cities). I remembered all our design initiatives needed to be in sync with our Chinese counterparts. It never passed my mind in my design career that my design actions have global implications.
The product is already built, make it sellable Erik! Ah, yes- designers positioned as reactive creatures, making everything shiny and pretty and that is "IT." The word “production” this day, is synonymous with being reactive. It is true I was production designer back then, I was very reactive to the directions of my leaders.
But I always thought that you couldn’t be proactive if you haven’t experienced and endured being reactive.
I reacted and worked at Bagboy. I worked and smiled and shared my work. I shared my work and some people loved it. Then, one day I sensed a pattern, felt a work-rhythm and a tempo, and in that moment I started creating roadmaps for future projects. I started to become a proactive designer. My last year at BagBoy was amazing- I coordinated projects that I wanted to do. My leaders trusted me because I showcased that I can align with their needs. Plus, they loved my Bagboy-to-somewhat-Nike intentions.
I created microsites, produced photoshoots, executed print materials galore and somewhat managed to infuse a micro-sliver of Nike aesthetics to my projects. I was happy.The concept and the experience of being reactive always fascinated me.
What I learned is there will come a day that you will be reactive and will do the production grind, but someday you will sense that work rhythm and in that moment you will proactively produce design projects that you will want.