yucciestacheOk, so the “yuccie” termonology has been trending all over the internet since the article written by David Infente on Mashable two days ago. For years I’ve been hiring these guys as a creative director and teaching them at an Art college in Nashville. I think I can share a different perspective. Here’s what I see:

From the seat of the Graphic Design Coordinator at Nossi College of Art, I’ve seen the soon to be yuccie come in with a creative mind full of ideas with everything from traditional drawings and Photoshop renderings to graphics created from mobile apps. Still others are already creating timelines, scripting languages and path sequencing for animated graphics. I also see another creative type that’s a different breed altogether–the creative tech. They possess more of an inventor-like mind than that of a conceptual artist. He/she sees the world caught between reality and a more desired non realistic version that travels way faster than the generation right in front of them. Way faster.

SelfieWhen it comes to how they create, the ends don’t always justify the means. Their attention span is so short that they’re more comfortable creating multiple inventions at the same time without really finishing any of them. To them, the idea started is better than the idea finished. They’re deliberate procrastinators who are patient in their impatience to invent. Add to that the desire to develop a more interesting story around the process than the creative invention itself and you have the millennial designer who’s more creatively dangerous in the middle of creation than anything else.

Curriculums and degree options to satisfy the demand for creative tech skills in the creative industry are evolving fast. So fast most universities and colleges can’t stay on pace. The ones that are succeeding are winning the battle of “what you learned your freshman year will be outdated by the time you graduate”. That means evolving curriculums and degrees while the student is in the middle of their educational journey. Nossi even offers alumni the ability to audit future classes after graduation–for free!

From the Creative Director’s seat and with an ad agency perspective, everyone is trying to adapt to the yuccie’s lifestyle of convenience. Freelancing and flexible onsite hours for team collaboration is becoming the new norm. Continued professional education is also a must as technologies for consumers and brands are evolving rapidly. And just any job won’t do. It’s “the one they’ve been holding out for” and employers are racing to their best fishing holes to catch them.


techTo the millennial designer, being creative is the convenient sharing of ideas. Technology is so second nature that teaching them how to use their creative talents for anything other than narcissistically sharing with a selfie-stick is more about diversion than training. Keeping them focussed on how to use their creative story-telling inventions towards brands and employers that comfortably match their convenient technology savvy lifestyles will be the success of not just today’s companies, but newer ways to communicate brand messages for the future.

ChameleonCreativity is communication. Plain and simple. From the time cavemen painted on cave walls humans have been communicating to each other through the things we create. Try creating something without desiring a response and see what I mean. Better yet, create without the desired response and consider it even more.

Today’s graphic designers and art directors are faced with understanding how to communicate creatively in a world that has evolved through technology – allowing for cross-culture messaging in an array of new media vehicles. If there ever was a time to break down the walls of stereotyping, prejudices and empathetic sincerity it is now. Recently, AIGA and Adobe partnered to define the designer of tomorrow, specifically within the next two years. Their findings, through several years of research, are six major trends that will shape the designers of tomorrow. Basically, the development of visual, verbal and visceral communication is much deeper than mere design.

As an educator to college design students, the biggest challenge I face is convincing young creatives to abandon creative trends and develop a clear understanding of deeper communication strategies. “They must understand the social sciences and humanities in order to understand the content they are asked to communicate and they must understand how to work collaboratively with other knowledge and practice specialists.” – AIGA, Designer of 2015 Trends


A chameleon blends in, finds safety in looking like its environment and doesn’t attract any attention. Finding the “unique” in design is nothing new. So slaying that Chameleon has been put to rest. However, in terms of today’s communication channels, jumping on the latest technologies designed for short attention spans and redundancy of content can be catastrophic to design without considering how to narrow your audience, design within a believable context, customize messaging that aligns with other social conversations and relying on engagement strategies based on cultural realities. In other words, media complacency has watered down creative executions and messaging into a pool of swirling color. Slaying that chameleon will take a deeper knowledge in design thinking than ever before.

Educators are speeding to offer the latest software and technology training without teaching the bigger understanding of how to use these new medias in a unique way. Just having an “app for that” is no longer the goal. Recommending creative solutions with these new resources, including possible considerations to product evolvement by designers, will be the key to success. Tackling creative issues within a bigger perspective outside the designer’s capabilities will now become their responsibility.

Just because a new technology is available to a designer’s creative strategic tool belt, doesn’t make it necessary. Discerning between what’s needed and what is not will be key. However, when it comes to today’s new design education practices, understanding the skills within these new capabilities will be imperative. For example: the creative development of print and e-medias will be essential to tomorrow’s designer. The creation of visual content is completely different with each user. Furthermore, adopting a “student mentality” will be the norm. Meaning, self-growth in continued education, wether on your own or within the confines of an educational institution, will be necessary to maintain continued success. In a recent article by Katia Colucci with The International Council of Communication Design, she states, “According to some experts the current half-life of personal knowledge is five years. In other words, in five years, half of our personal knowledge will be outdated. This means that to be competitive in future professional environments, we need to renew our knowledge by investing in continuous education.”

Slaying the creative chameleon has always been the challenge of graphic artists. Being unique and standing out from your surroundings is heresy to the existance of the chameleon. In contrast, it is essential to the survival of the designer. The term “cliche’ “ will now be applied to new technologies and how we use them to communicate in a transparent world.

To find out more about the future of graphic design, visit AIGA, AdobeThe Bureau of Labor Statistics or contact Bruce Stanley, Graphic Design Coordinator, Nossi College of Art.

Hire me, I dare you.

January 25, 2012

To be quite honest, I need to be creative. It’s like food for me and I’m definitely an overeater. So give me a project, challenge me, I dare you!

When I first realized I had an affinity for creativity I was 10 years old. I decided I was good enough to draw the illustration of the month in the comic book magazine–I think it was the duck with the cowboy hat, you know the ads for art school. “If you’re good enough”, it said, “you could be accepted to art school”.

At 10 years old I just wanted to be “good enough”. So I started with my first draft and went to my father, the draftsman, for my first critique. “Need to straighten up that line there, and fix that smudge here”, he said. After 10 attempts at satisfying my dad, I gave up. I thought, artists can’t make anyone happy–they’re never good enough.

Getting my BFA in graphic design and minor in print making after my four year stint in the, “Be all you can be” Army, I was ready to be creatively challenged in a career in advertising. I realized that my drive for success was just as ego driven as my need to be “good enough”. My father’s push became my influence for acceptance through accomplishment. I was a sponge for knowledge. If I didn’t know how to do something, I found someone who did and pushed them to my standards–the birth of my art direction years.

After four agencies and rising to a senior level art director, I was enjoying working with some of the most talented people in the Nashville market and beyond. With brands like Jack Daniels, Purity, Singer, Presbyterian USA, The NFL, The NHL and Nortel, the diversity of creative executions became my passion. I realized everyday at work was an opportunity for creating something new–even better, something unique and effective. Now that was acceptance, accomplishment…”good enough”.

My last challenge was becoming a Creative Director at one of the hottest shops in Nashville. However, it was during this time that I realized my true zeal for creativity–giving it away. As a leader of creative teams, my mission was no longer being good enough, it became making you “even better”. Thus the revelation of my real gift from my creator, a teacher. Sure, I succeeded in all the normal responsibilities as an agency leader: planning, hiring, presentations, planning, estimating, planning, did say planning already? It was the time I was able to spend with other creatives that I longed for each day. It was also during this time in my career that I explored teaching at local art colleges. What started with one class here and there became many, then portfolio reviews, lectures and workshops. Even writing creative projects/promts for author Robin Landan’s “Take a line for a walk”. I couldn’t get enough of it.

What I realized was that my desire to be good enough was only actualized by others acceptance. My value became helping people find hope…in themselves. What I didn’t realize was that this was also a curse. The opportunities for me to create on my own, something I found great joy in, was replaced with a selfless passion for helping others accomplish, visualize or just to understand something they couldn’t before. To inspire others meant I couldn’t inspire myself. I thought.

Alas, to live another day. The real joy of life. One more day to do something different. To forget everything you were doing and gain a new perspective. God actually tells us we can became an entirely new person than we were just a second ago. All it takes is a different perspective and faith in the action of believing in something bigger than yourself. BECAUSE, it’s not really about me. It’s about something else. Something even better than good enough.

Today I lead the graphic design program at Nossi College of Art. It’s the best job I could ever imagine. I get inspired everyday by young creative minds grasping to find their “good enough” and for me to reveal to them the “even better”.

I’m also involved with branding and planning as the brand manager with our ad agency. However, I still long for that next project when I can have one more opportunity to do something unique, something amazing. Funny thing is, it can be anything, a logo, a billboard, a radio or tv spot. I love it all. I even do it for free sometimes. The flexibility and expectation of this job is to stay current in my profession. The school’s philosophy in this way allows for relevant teaching and current perspectives within the curriculum and classroom expectations.

Please look through my portfolio pages and if you like what you see, hire me for a project, I’m hungry!