Leveraging a Passion for Art into a Passionate Career

June 6, 2016
Steve Kizer

There is a reason that the image of a “starving artist” exists. I create and sell my own artwork, and have owned and operated a gallery. However, art is subjective and also a very fickle commodity. Consequently, developing a livelihood as a working artist is, more often than not, destined to be a struggle. Enter commercial art—graphic design—art for hire! This is one way in which remaining in touch with fine art can crossover into a viable, sustainable career.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

In essence, being a designer amounts to being a problem solver. Design is everywhere. It’s vital for communication. And to add to the challenge, good design is often invisible. This simply means that if the goal is clarity in communication, then the less distraction, the more intuitive, the better. This is something to which I can hitch my wagon and merge a personal passion for art with a passion for my role at Geezeo.

My title may be Art Director, but it may as well be Problem Solver. How does one take wonky statistics and piles of data and make it interesting? How does one convey the underlying story, simply and effectively, often at a glance? How can a simple phrase or couple of words become a brand and recognizable identity? These are some of the problem-solving design challenges I encounter daily.

My role at Geezeo requires translating often complex concepts into digestible narratives—visually telling stories that help promote “fintech” adoption and digital engagement. Through the use of symbols and graphics, stories can be told in ways in which words alone sometimes fail. A picture is worth a thousand words, after all. Visual learning is instinctual and efficient. Ensuring that the desired lesson is the one that is projected is the hallmark of success in this role.

Helping to convey meaning from apparent madness is akin to pulling images from the recesses of my imagination and onto the canvas. Sure, there are guidelines to follow: form, line, color, unity, hierarchy, etc. But to get from here to there is often a process of discovery and experimentation.

Collaboration is Key

My background in art brought a very fortunate chance to collaborate with other very talented people. My “bandmates”, if you will, was called Dwell Collective. We would paint live along with musical performances—start with a blank canvas and no direct plan, we’d begin to paint when the music began, and stop when the tunes did. In between, the process was entirely free-form—each artist playing off of the moves made by the other, influenced by the music, the crowd, the venue, the entire environment—and in the end, the finished piece is considered an archive of the experience.

My Geezeo work also involves collaboration with many talented team members. Multiple people contribute to the graphics Geezeo Interactive produces and in the end they are more valuable and robust because of the collaborative process.

Having What it Takes

I’ve found that a flexible attitude and thinking BIG are really important when you are doing work for clients. Being able to adjust on the fly and say “no problem” when a curveball is thrown my way or a major change is requested last minute is key. I’ve also found that exercising my conceptual muscles comes in handy. Pushing boundaries and being innovative helps keep ideas fresh.

As an artist, I’ve discovered I bring something very unique to the graphic design table. I bring my love for art and combine it with a visual medium to solve a problem with a clear message. I get to use my passion everyday to communicate with others through powerful, compelling images. I can’t think of a better job!

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