Janke Team Interview Series: Adam Ross
Position: Associate / Senior Designer / Project Manager
Team member since: 2007
Second in our team interview series is Adam Ross, a disciplined designer who’s able to juggle a baby in one hand, and 3 projects in the other – while keeping the projects within budget and educating himself on new software, almost as fast as The Matrix.
Adam’s discerning eye for design, impeccable work ethic and account management skills, sharp wit, and acute sense of smell for good copywriting, make him a strong leader at Janke. We’re proud to introduce Adam, the other person at the table who’s going to challenge your thinking – for the better.
- Unofficial office DJ
- Expert in zombie survival skills
- Maintains stubble all year long
- Board game aficionado
As Associate and Senior Designer, Adam has over 10 years experience in communication design and experiential graphics, planning, and account management. From a wide range of high-profile naming, integrated brand identity campaigns and website strategies, to large-scale marketing campaigns, exhibit design, and an exceptional portfolio of experiential graphics programs, his versatility, client interaction, and design talents benefit clients. Adam is a native Texan and earned a BFA degree from Texas State University’s ComDes program where he also received numerous design awards.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about living and working in Austin?
A: I certainly won’t say the weather or the traffic! Haha. Austin represents a creative culture with plenty of inspiration to keep you motivated, plus as a fan of the outdoors, there are plenty of local spots to relax and enjoy the view.
Q: So, do your parents know what you do for a living yet?
A: Absolutely. As a child they knew I liked to draw and had a vivid imagination, so it’s no surprise to them that I gravitated towards a creative career. They may not fully understand the extent of the types of projects I’ve worked on (websites, printed collateral, brand identity, experiential graphics, etc.) but I’m pretty sure they know it’s not just logos. I try to keep them informed about the projects I’m working on.
“It’s got to be leaning out of a maintenance hatch, high above the city on the 17th floor of the W Hotel in Austin for an impromptu photo op.”
Q: As an Associate, what hats do you wear in the agency?
A: I change out roles pretty frequently throughout the day: Designer, Project Manager, Editor, Creative Director, Web Master, Office DJ, etc. It’s a seldom occurrence when I can just focus on one specific project or task for the entire day.
Q: Having been with Janke for over 10 years, do you have a favorite memorable moment?
A: It’s got to be leaning out of a maintenance hatch high above the city on the 17th floor of the W Hotel in Austin for an impromptu photo op. I was onsite doing a punch list for the signage program we designed. I remember it was really windy and I only did it to get a look at the huge “W” sign that we designed for the notch in the building that separates the hotel from the condo levels. It was something that not many others will ever experience and it marked the conclusion to one of my first major hotel projects. We have the photo on our website.
Q: What points do you think are important in order to manage a client or a project smoothly?
A: In my experience, communication between fellow team members and the client is the most important factor to a project going smoothly. Without it, you’re either designing completely by instinct and potentially going down the wrong path, or you’re left behind as the rest of the project moves forward around you, leaving you to play catch-up and there-by burning through the budget. You can learn a lot about clients’ needs from listening to them and paying attention. You’re also able to educate the client in return by making valid arguments about design decisions and methods that fit their project.
Q: What new technologies do you see quickly changing the way you work these days?
A: Working on EGD (Experiential Graphic Design) project seems to be changing the most. Architects utilize BIM software like Revit now, so there is a constantly updated version of the floor plans available. We’re able to get outstanding levels of information to ensure that wen we locate a sign in a building or space, it will not interfere with a thermostat or ventilation shaft that happens to be in the same area.
Q: How important is the research process when kicking off an initiative, and what steps does your team take?
A: In the case of EGD project, we have to do our due diligence researching applicable city codes and requirements to meet the ADA. Its far from interesting and it’s usually a difficult process determine which codes apply and how to interpret them for each project. Some projects are more difficult than others depending on what city your working in.
For a branding project, we always try to tell a story with the brand. So if we can research the history of a name or find a symbol that represents an aspect of the business, we’ll try to find a way to incorporate it into the design or turn it into something new. We typically do a lot of online research for visual precedents and inspiration. We ask a lot of questions and look for historical references if available as well as what the future is bound to hold for a brand or industry.
Q: Free-time, unrelated to Janke, what do you enjoy doing? Hobbies?
A: With two young daughters, my free-time is filled with tea parties, play-doh construction, bottle washing, and bedtime stories –– but when I can break away for an hour or more I have several hobbies. In the past couple of years or so, I’ve put the X Box controller aside and pulled out board games. I’ve found that board games hold their entertainment value much longer than a video game and they give me an opportunity to sit down with friends for a few hours rather than playing with a total stranger online, hundreds of miles away. I also have started painting miniature figures (player pieces for the board games) –– I know, I know… super geek.
Q: As a wrap, can you explain how you think Janke’s integrated brand approach benefits clients?
A: When we [Janke] kick-off a branding initiative, we never think exclusively about what the logo will be… we do our research, we think about the name of the brand, we plan out how the logo identity would live on everything from a t-shirt to a monument sign, we create a strategy for the colors used in the identity and how they will transfer to the website, we develop a printed collateral piece that ties into both the paper system and website, we’ll design a signage program as an extension of your brand so that it tells your story… It benefits our clients because we reject the tunnel-visioned approach that is easy to fall into when you’re only hired to do a portion of the total package. We provide a plan for how to build your brand into a recognizable symbol for the service or product your business provides. We are always ready to adapt the plan, as needed, to steer the brand in the right direction while staying rooted in the foundational principles of what makes each brand unique.