It’s now been exactly 5 years since I assumed the role of Marketing Communications Advisor at Accurate. Which means I’ve spent a proportional amount of time on the ‘account’ side (2011–present) as I did on the ‘creative’ side as a designer (2006–2011).
I feel like I can finally answer the question that so many clients, prospects and colleagues have asked me since I made the move—“do you miss designing?”.
You don’t have to wait until the end of this (much longer than anticipated) post for the answer, it’s no. But here’s why:
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I was hired by Accurate as an Intermediate Graphic Designer—though in a lot of ways I was still pretty green. I’d never had the benefit of learning and working from other professionals (senior designers, writers, account people, etc). Before Accurate, I was always the Art Department, or the designer at a 3-person agency model. When I arrived here, it was buzzing with energy, the pace was frenetic. There were high-profile branding projects on the go, client presentations, and constant brainstorming sessions with the Creative Director. Designers were always gathered for lunch-and-learn sessions that were often interrupted by roars of laughter—it was just awesome. I finally felt I’d arrived at a proper agency. And I was right in the mix designing logos, pavilions, layouts, reports, web designs—you name it.
Fast forward a couple of years and I’m the successful candidate of an internal competition to become the Art Director’s right-hand-man. As a ‘manager’, I’m deploying a whole new set of skills: art directing designer work, managing personalities, attending the odd client meeting, but the majority of my time is still spent designing.
It was everything I’d dreamt about while slogging my way through the gruelling program at Sheridan College and my first years working at a mouse-infested sign-maker/printing house in Etobicoke.
Then came an opportunity to become an Account Manager. I use the word ‘opportunity’, because professionally there’s no question it’s a step up—position in the company, role as a decision-maker, and I would effectively become my own boss managing my own hours/schedule.
But NO design work.
I wouldn’t be able to look back at a beautifully crafted logo and say “I did that”, or point to a storefront and tell my kids “daddy designed that”. No more creative sessions with the other designers and refining my craft. No more sitting at a desk with headphones, concentrating on a single task while others around me worried about budgets and schedules.
The new role would bring some additional stresses with it: hitting company targets, the pressure of keeping 12 designers busy, managing project deadlines, budgets, client expectations, preparing quotes/proposals late into the night or on weekends, attending client meetings and pitching new clients.
But it really didn’t take long to make a decision—I was excited to make the jump. I wanted to push myself professionally. It was the best decision of my still young career.
I *still* get to look back on projects and think “I did that”, I *still* get to insert my creative input, especially because I’ve worked so closely with the client on the project scope/objectives/schedule/budget. I *still* get to refine my craft by working with the designers and even by ‘talking shop’ with clients who have a similar background.
The surprising thing, is that it’s not even about the things I *still* get to do, there’s all sorts of new and positive things I get from the new role; I get to share client praise with the staff when it inevitably rolls in. I have a voice at the Accurate boardroom table for company-wide decisions. I get to meet all sorts of interesting people. And those of you who know me well would never believe this, but I love crunching numbers and chasing company targets. Every day is a challenge (in a good way).
As far as stresses go, they’re really kind of second nature at this point, they’re almost motivating, serving as performance benchmarks.
Full disclosure: I still crack open Adobe Illustrator at home, when the kids are sleeping, but now I get to design more as a hobby. I contribute artwork to a few blogs including a Sens blog SensNation and I support friends/family with their projects, casual stuff.
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This post ended up being pretty introspective, but I guess that’s expected when I’m trying to describe how/why I’m enjoying my new role. At the end of the day, I hope it shows in the work I/we do. Maybe that’ll be the topic of my next post…. Why I love my job, and why that means you should work with Accurate.