5 Questions: Ben Jenkins

Ben Jenkins – designer, founder, and owner of One Fast Buffalo – will be joining us in Houston on Thursday, March 6 at 7:30pm, for a one-night speaking engagement at Montrose’s historic River Oaks Theater. Get to know Ben before his visit, in his own words:

Tell us about your journey from pro-baseballer to designer.
Well, it was more of a matter of which of the two would win out in the end. I took both seriously growing up and just pushed as long as I could to do both. Like most who get into it, pro sports eventually decided it was done with me. And when it did, I did not fight it. It was tough because half of my identity was built around sports. But I just had to let it go. I knew I was fortunate to have another thing I loved and should focus on it. Honestly, I never had the confidence in sports that I do in design. I had natural talent in sports, but not pure belief that I could do it well. In the minor leagues I just used all the down time between games to do my own projects or practice on any freelance projects I could get my hands on. It was easy for me to put the work in to get good at design. I learned that from sports, I guess.

How did One Fast Buffalo get started?
OFB got started simply by me finding freelance jobs to keep from going crazy while riding on buses and sitting in hotels between baseball games and practice. I actually tried to get a full time job after baseball ended, but nobody was interested in hiring me. So I made a choice to take the freelance thing a step further by starting a design firm. That was 15 years ago.

As a creative team, OFB seems to be as much about solid design as it is educating clients. Can you expand on that?
Yes, you are right. After about 5 years as purely a design-based firm, I realized we needed to do more than just design. So we really worked to learn brand strategy and develop our own program. At first it was about learning more about our clients’ businesses, but as we developed the program, we realized we could actually lead the clients and direct them on strategic recommendations. Strategy always informs our design. It always should. Otherwise it’s just decoration.

What do you love about design?
That is a hard question. I guess I could answer by going back to why I loved playing sports. Even though sports and design are so different, I find a lot of crossover. Being “in the flow” would be number one; there’s that joy of just doing. I feel like it’s part of being human, to want to make things. So it feels natural. Of course the crowd noise is a lot quieter in design! 😉

What’s the one thing you want attendees to get out of your March 6th speaker event?
I hope folks learn that there is no formula or specific plan that guarantees success, or even defines what it is. I hate the idea that there’s a certain way to do anything. If you want to get good at something, take the time to get good at it. Also, I think it is up to you to figure out what you value in life and craft the way you make a living around the things you care about.

To register for AIGA Houston Presents: Ben Jenkins of One Fast Buffalo, click here. Tickets still available!

By Andy Rich
Published February 27, 2014
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