Art Director at Whiskey Design
Hello, my name is Roberto Camacho. I have been a designer for the past seven years. I graduated from Avila University in south Kansas City. Out of school, I worked for Willoughby design for three years and now I am on my fourth year at Whiskey Design.
Where are you from?
I was born in Mexico then moved to California when I was fourteen. Shortly after that my family moved to here (Kansas City) and I went to Grandview Highschool. After graduating from Highschool I went to Neosho Community College on a soccer scholarship. After going to Neosho Community College, I attended Avila College to play soccer and studied Graphic design.
What is your favorite project you have worked on at whiskey?
There are a bunch of projects that I have really enjoyed, a lot of them are branding oriented. One example is Boulevardia Festival and everything that goes along with that since that is a multi-layered project. Every year we try to push the brand of Boulevardia Festival to try and expand it. Another fun packaging design project that I did was Give Pet packaging the clients were really cool, and I enjoy how it came out and its cool to be able to see that in stores. This was one of the first projects I was able to work on my own design with only creative direction. I am happy with the way it turned out. One great think about working at Whisky is we always try to come up with a very unique idea for each project we do. That makes every project very unique and cool. Each unique thing is fun, it is like a designer dream to be able to do projects like a beer branding project and I got to do that which was very cool. Even at Willoughby, I go to work for some big projects like Panera Bread and even some city projects that were big in scope like, the Ride KC project. Working for the Ride KC project I got to be a part of the branding for that. Obviously, it wasn’t just me it was a group of us at Willoughby. But it was cool being able to ride the streetcar and know that I helped out with designing it. We had to do a lot of research due to the streetcar needing to be something that is simply understood. I have a lot of Highlights with my design career.
What’s one way that you get unstuck when you get designers block?
I normally try and step away from the computer or try and switch projects. You’ll often get to a point where you can’t solve the problem with a design and switching projects or taking a break from that project could help you come back to it with a fresh mind. It kind of helps that we have a bunch of projects working at the same time so I able to switch between projects to help my productivity. I know I need to spend a few hours on one project to move it along, but I can’t completely forget about another project that also needs time to move forward. I think that helps to not get completely stuck on a single project. If I know it is not right I will start doing more research to try and move forward. Another thing that helps is to seek feedback. It’s very helpful to get someone else’s point of view and it also helps to just talk about the project. At times that helps make progress when you might think you are stuck that can help pick out the little things that could move the project along. Matt Wegere’s quoted this from somewhere but it is something like, “The pieces are already there I can’t see it but I have to just keep chiseling it away until you arrive at the solution.” I seek feedback and that is the best way for me to get unstuck.
It’s very helpful to get someone else’s point of view and it also helps to just talk about the project.
Give Pet Packaging Project
Fun packaging design project that I did was Give Pet packaging the clients were really cool, and I enjoy how it came out and its cool to be able to see that in stores. This was one of the first projects I was able to work on my own design with only creative direction. I am happy with the way it turned out.
Do you have any hobbies that influence your work?
It is not so much of hobby but as I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do [My Career}. When I was starting to need to figure out what I wanted to do I originally tried architecture. I really started to enjoy form and shape as well as modern architecture like Minimalist, Linear, and Space. I see a lot of the architecture styles in my designs. I am now trying to stay out of my comfort zone to learn new styles. It helps to be working for a studio like Whiskey Design, every now and then you’ll have to do a style of design you are not comfortable with and it helps push you out of the comfort zone. Badge hunting also is something I get interested in with the iconography that goes with it. Every once and a while everything gets thrown into a blender and then you start a design.
Are there any abnormal design methods that you and Whiskey Design use?
Yeah, I don’t know if it is abnormal but every once in a while, we will pull up an iPad and use Procreate to help move things along. It is up to what the designer feels comfortable with Micah Barta is our lead illustrator and will start with a sketch every time and scan in then move to computers. Where I am a lot of times straight to the computer I will normally do a quick sketch but not as detailed as Micah would make it. Most of the time it is normally just the big three Adobe programs. Every now and then, we will try something new and it might work it might not. One example we were working on the branding for Open Spaces Experience it was really fun because it was like craft day. One of our interns was getting really into it and was folding papers to make the letterforms. We also got a ton of tiny beads with different colors and we made a pattern. We just photographed and just put it in a layout and it turned out really cool.
Who is your favorite person to critique your work?
So, in the graphic design industry, there are roles. I have been fortunate to be under the creative direction and to be working with some really awesome people. Here at Whiskey Design, we are very collaborative. We don’t hold back on the feedback, we know that we are trying to make each other’s project better. If I or one of my co-workers see something that we could help each other on we would share it with our team to try and make our concept better.
Outside of design, I like to get feedback from non-designers because a lot of the time they have left the side of the brain as I am the right side of the brain. As well as they are not looking at the same parts of the design as designers would. You don’t always have to agree with their advice. Sometimes I’ll ask, “what does this look like to you?” A lot of the times you’ll get a really random answer that you wouldn’t expect.
My direction I typically work with people to help create my ideas like an Illustrator and copyrighter and I will work closely with them to make sure it is going in the right direction.
What is your typical day at Whisky Design?
The day is pretty normal, I come in and have a project I am already working on that I get started on. Until I get to a point that I need to get feedback or send something to the client that is needed. We are not always working on concept creation and branding sometimes there is a client that needs a quick flyer or something like that. Sometimes I have to just help out a client on something that is needed quickly. Lunch, then go back to work, and that is about it in short terms.
At Whiskey there are three designers that are at the art director level, and then there is Matt Wegere, who is at the creative director level. Right now we have two graphic design interns. We don’t always have interns we normally have them in the summer and fall. Some projects will go directly to a specific designer due to our workloads. There are some projects that everyone will work on we still go under Matt’s direction. I could be working on the app design while someone else could be working on more branding-related things like signage or something like that. Currently, we are working on a packaging project and we are in the research and concepting phase of it now and most, if not all, the designers will be tasked to that. We then narrow it down to the ideas we feel strong about to show the client. Often time the client will pick one and the designer that created that concept will take the art director role or take that project.
My direction I typically work with people to help create my ideas like an Illustrator and copyrighter and I will work closely with them to make sure it is going in the right direction. Then we will have a second presentation with the client to figure out the final details. We oversee the creation like videos and photography. Once we are ready for production, we will do press checks. At Whiskey, we build the brand but if the client needs photography, web development, or something like that we will work with other people or agencies and be a director for the creation of the element. We will work with our partners and listen to them and take advice from them about new trends and stuff like that.
Do you have any advice for a design student that is about to graduate?
Push yourself to create a lot of stuff. Your book is going to be the first thing that is going to be judged so make sure you have a wide range and are able to talk about your projects. Don’t limit your projects to just your own abilities. I know that is hard to do being in school because you can’t just hire out an illustrator, but if you do know a buddy that has a good illustration for the style you are trying to create you could work on it together and both get credit for it and show it on both portfolio. Just really find ways not to be selfish and really make sure to make your projects surpass expectations. Other than that, do stuff that really interests you. It is really cool to see a student be really connected to a project and it is easier for the students to talk about a project that interests them. It is cool to see a student really inspired about a specific project. Make sure you practice how you are going to show your portfolio.
Outside of that make sure you get out in front of people in networking events. Don’t look at it with any expectations other than just to meet new people. I would consider joining AIGA or AFKC and get involved in those events. I have met a lot of people who are very passionate and good at design that I know I can call up if we have a design position available and they would be great for that position. I am sure they would do that for me too.
Be well rounded in your design and don’t make you weakness very weak. If you have a great skill show it off, and if you don’t have it keep trying it and you could make a complete 180 and you could become very good at that particular skill. Start being very conscious about your social footprint. I would recommend having an Instagram and a Facebook design page where everyone check out your work. Use specific hashtags that allow you to be pop up on a lot of people’s newsfeeds. Don’t be ashamed on quality of your post if you are not good at something put it up there and get some feedback so the next one is better. Also, take the time to Art Direct a final project and take your time to photograph the project.