As our series of featured member articles continue, we spoke to Jay Master of Jay Master Design. Jay’s talent for logos, packaging, branding, web design, and illustrations make him the perfect choice in featuring a designer superstar, who can truly do it all and do it well!
Tell us about yourself: your background, your design style who you are and how you came to be.
I grew up in Boulder, Colorado, and took a winding road to becoming a designer. I’ve worked for video game companies, advertising agencies, and design firms, and I also did in-house design. I’m particularly drawn to branding and specifically, packaging design. I love seeing my designs translate to success for my clients.
How would you set yourself apart from other designers? What about your work makes it a “Jay Master masterpiece?”
As designers, we all have an inherent style to our work. However, I’ve worked hard to be a master (and I’m not even close) at understanding what my clients are trying to communicate via designs, what their messages are. I try to take that communication and funnel it into my designs.
I’m not sure I ever consider anything a masterpiece, but when I can come back to my work a week, month, or year later and still consider it to be good, that’s when I know I did a good work. However, my best measure for a masterpiece is when my clients become successful based off of our work together.
When did you receive your career’s “calling” to be a designer? What about this field were you most drawn to? Was it an easy decision to choose a career in design?
I started out going for a degree in finance. I learned along the way that was the wrong path. So, I decided to take a big step and move out to Hawaii to finish my schooling. I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do. I took a basic computer art class at a community college in Honolulu, and from that point on, I’ve been obsessed.
What works are you most pleased with? Did these works come easier than others?
I’m probably most pleased with one of my personal projects, Planted. I’m in the process of creating a subscription-based t-shirt business. With each subscription, we’ll plant one tree a month for each customer. Personal projects can be very difficult to complete, but I find them to be incredibly rewarding.
Describe your workflow in steps. Is there anything that would surprise us in how you get your work done?
Process is everything. Without it, I have no foundation to build work.
- I start all my projects with either a phone call or Facetime/Skype session. It’s important to get to know someone. Often a logo/branding project is incredibly personal and important to that person. So, it’s good to understand what, why, and how they plan on building their brand.
- Next, I have them fill out a brand questionnaire. When they return it back to me, I study it and go back to them with any questions I have. I also perform an audit of other brands in their same space.
- The next step is creating word lists and mood boards. I find mood boards very helpful to setting the proper tone for the project. The client and I go over the mood boards and choose a creative direction.
- I then explore multiple logo concepts and present several to the client. We choose one and then do some refining from there.
- For the final execution, it’s incredibly important to see how the logo will live in real life. I put it into several mockups, etc, to see how it feels and make any minor tweaks from there.
What lessons have you learned that you wish you had known as a designer starting out? What advice could you give to other designers who are just beginning their careers?
One of the biggest things I learned early on was to separate my emotions from the design process. What I mean by that is not to take design rejections personally. Design is subjective, and one person’s diamond is another person’s basic rock.
Another piece of advice I’d give to new designers is to relentlessly grind every day. Successful designs take countless reiterations.
The last piece of advice I’d give is to never stop exploring. Deconstruct how designs you like came into play, study the different eras of design, and spend time learning about typography.
Who are your design heroes? What types of style do you most admire/enjoy? Is there a particular design that made you say “wow” most recently?
I have so many; it’s hard to name them all. But probably Paul Rand, Saul Bass, and Massimo Vignelli are masters that I’m still learning from.
Who would be a dream client for you and why? What kind of projects do you most look forward to?
That’s a tough question, but probably Major League Baseball. I’m a baseball junkie, and I’d love to do some work for them.
The projects that get me the most excited are smaller businesses with product designs that are crafted and born from their passions. I love collaborating with clients that are as passionate as I am.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Are there hobbies that inspire your work?
I get inspiration from everywhere. I’m constantly taking photos of great product designs I see in grocery stores, environmental designs, patterns in nature, etc. I created a slack channel for myself, so I can easily upload them into categories and reference later on.
What is your definition of success? What is your definition of failure?
My definition of success is when I help my clients achieve their goals in being successful.
My definition of failure is a little harder to define. But for the most part it’s the opposite of success. However, there can be so many variables that can happen in any process. Often when I look back on a project that “failed,” it is because of several small things that I didn’t foresee or didn’t look at the picture wide enough. But these are the best learning opportunities. While failure can suck, it’s one of the most valuable learning tools we can use to improve our work.
To see the collection of logos that Jay Master has uploaded to the Lounge, please see here.
To visit Jay’s professional website, simply click here. And watch out for June’s featured member article, as we bring another designer “Center Stage.”