Continuing our artist interview series, Buck Off Magazine is happy to introduce graphic designer Zak Stoddard. Without further ado, the interview:
BOM: When did you start creating graphic designs? And was it always graphic work or did you start with more traditional mediums?
Stoddard: Growing up I was always interested in art. At a young age I was always sketching in my sketchbook, painting, or even playing guitar. In fact from 5th-8th grade I studied at the Museum Partnership School. It was at this school where I had the opportunity to go to museums and study all types of artwork.
Looking back at it now, I was always interested in design… I just didn’t know it yet. I can remember when I was probably in 7th grade I would use windows paint to recreate my favorite bands album covers… As I got better at this, I would then pull apart the actual CD and cut and insert my artwork and then put it back into my CD collection, Little did I know that this is graphic design and there is a whole career in it.
BOM: What kind of education do you have regarding designing?
Stoddard: I have my Associates degree in Design and I have my Bachelor’s degree in Communications with a focus in Graphic Design.
BOM: What’s your process for making a design? How does that process change when you’re doing something for a company/client?
Stoddard: All I will say is this… There is what you learn in school and then there is what you learn in the working environment. Every client I work with is different and has different needs. It’s up to me as the designer to realize each client’s specific needs and find a way to meet them. This being said, I may give them a design that I think is the ugliest thing on the face of this earth… but if it makes them happy, then I did my job and that’s what I care most about.
BOM: What software do you use most often?
Stoddard: Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are open everyday on my computer.
BOM: What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome or challenges you face regularly?
Stoddard: I would say the biggest challenge that I faced was finding a way to stay creative for 50 hours a week. I remember when I first graduated I was working in Boston with this amazing company and I was at my desk dead tired because my commute was 2 hours each way on top of my long work day, and I sat at my desk and thought to myself… man I can hardly see straight right now never mind think of how to make something visually appealing. It was a scary feeling having no choice but to think creatively all the time if I wanted to prove myself as a young designer.
BOM: What are some of the benefits to working as a graphic designer?
Stoddard: The running joke in my family is that “I color for a living” and to some extent this is true. Everyday day I get to wake up and go to work (in the toy and game industry) and I get to make people’s ideas come to life through design. For me when I get to hear someone say “I LOVE it” that makes up for everything else.
BOM: Where can people find your work? Both online and in person.
Stoddard: I have a portfolio site www.zaktaylor.me
BOM: What’s a piece of advice you’d give your younger self?
Stoddard: If I could give college Zak a piece of advice it would be, Not to be such a design snob… be open to new ideas and more importantly… just because you watched the movie “Helvetica” does not mean that now using Helvetica is the answer to everything.