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What do you look for in a designer? Whether you're seeking your first job or you're a seasoned pro, the answer to this question can provide valuable insight when answered by the right person. We've decided to ask the best minds in the design world about their hiring practices to learn what it takes to stand out as a creative professional. In a time when technology and trends change at the blink of an eye, we think this question is more relevant than ever.
Oved Valadez is a founding partner and executive creative director of INDUSTRY, a strategy, design, and marketing consultancy based in Portland, OR. He is an accomplished creative director, brand marketer, and designer. Throughout his career Oved has lead category-busting activations, design initiatives, and brand marketing strategies. He is an expert at crafting the Big Idea, connecting brand DNA with consumer insights to deliver impact in the market.
As a creative director, he has collaborated with companies that include Nike, Starbucks, IHG Hotels, InCase, Autodesk, TDK, Coca-Cola, P&G and Intel among others. Oved's work has been featured in the New York Times, Fast Company, Hypebeast, Wall Street Journal, Wired, and Coolhunting. With so much experience, we figured we'd pick Oved's brain about what him and his team at INDUSTRY look for when hiring a designer.
What do you look for when hiring a designer?
Oved Valadez: Creativity is the capacity to turn an idea into an emotional connection. It doesn't matter if you are a graphic designer, product designer, or a communicator: to do so, you have to have a deep understanding of people and culture and [be able to] anticipate what's next.
We look for designers that can detach themselves from the design. Designers who know it's not about them, who know how to adapt and transcend, focusing on what connects people with brands. We look for triple threats; the Gene Kelly's, Bruce Lee's, and Bo Jackson's of the world. Designers that can think, create, and communicate a story. Unlike other agencies, we don't believe in quantity of designers, we believe in quality. Other agencies, firms, and consultancies have battalions, but we have the special ops team. This allows us to execute on high profile projects, making an impact on people and shifting markets.
Is there a particular "tell" that signals a good or bad fit?
Bad Fit: No Hustle. Lack of passion, work ethic, desire to learn, or consideration of culture. Game over.
What is your best interview "horror story"?
A guy walked into the studio and found me at my desk. I thought I was going to get shot. He awkwardly handed me his portfolio, without any explanation. I gave him the time, because he had the hustle to make it all the way in. But he had no voice, no explanation, no desire, and no skills. If you are going to take someone's time, at least know what they're looking for. We kindly gave him feedback, I think he sent us a sealed wood box. Don't scare your potential workspace.
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What is the single most valuable piece of advice you could give to those on the hunt?
Look up. It's not about you. Know what's happening globally, locally, and anticipate what's next. We are creators of the future, do not follow trends.
Do you have any specific advice for recent graduates, or people just starting out straight from school?
Have a vision of your goal and put in the work - learn, learn and learn. Develop your skills and your communication. You are an apprentice; find a mentor you connect with and slowly create a POV.
Regarding creative employment, what do you know now that you wished you knew then?
It's always changing. Adapt or die. Look at every design movement, fossil agencies, and old guard. They are dead because they tried to sell you a process vs. delivering results. There is no blueprint for what we do, it's always in motion, be ready to shape it.
Want to know more about INDUSTRY? Visit them at industrypdx.com!