Some people hate the word "production."
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 that one day 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 actually enjoyed it. And the cool thing was, I started to 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 partner's schedules. It never passed my mind that in my design career - my design decision 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 a proactive designer, if you haven’t experienced and endured being a reactive designer.
I reacted and worked at Bagboy. I worked and worked 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 sometime there will be days that you will be reactive and will do the production grind, but there will come a day you will sense that work rhythm and in that moment you will proactively produce design projects that you will want.
You couldn’t be a proactive designer,
if you haven’t experienced and endured
being a reactive designer.