July Professional Spotlight: Rowan Gearon

Name: Rowan Gearon
Place of Employment: Adcetera
Job Title: Creative Director

How long have you been an AIGA member and what do you get out of being a member?
I’m definitely one of the new kids on the block when it comes to membership … its been just about a whole month now! I’ve been attending AIGA events (design lectures and the occasional mixer) on and off since moving to Houston 7 years ago. As someone who believes in contributing to the growth and understanding of our industry, I figured I was overdue to actually sign up and offer my support!

The networking at events is probably the biggest drawcard for me. It is interesting to share war stories and be aware of what’s going on in our industry. Though i did just save a bunch of money on a new Macbook Pro 😉

What is your take on the creative industry in Houston? How do you think we can make it different?
Houston is a city filled with talented people—designers, illustrators, graffiti artists … you name it. As the 4th largest city in the US there is no question that talent is all around us. There are so many excellent groups doing amazing things in this city, from the Orange Show’s Art Car Parade to the events of Rice Design Alliance, from the highbrow sculptures of David Addicks to the street level work of groups like Knitta and Aerosol Warfare. Not to forget the AIGA of course.

Even with all this talent, the sad truth is that considering our size, there really is not enough visible artistic presence! Too few events, too many lego styled strip-malls with artistically shackled signage rules. Too many talented individuals that hide back in their homes or offices and forget that there is an audience out there, that Houston is home to so many untapped resources and possibilities for creative exposure and collaboration. The city is bursting with opportunity for giant exposure and what better time to be here!

The most important thing for designers to do is to remember why they became designers in the first place. Don’t turn up to work, go through the motions, collect a paycheck and go home. Strive to master your art through collaboration and self discipline—learning doesn’t end at school. Find a way to make art or design you can believe in, learn to recognize opportunities in disguise and always push yourself to do your best work.

Lastly support those around you. Learn to be a teacher as much as a student and support your creative community.

… Hey where’s my soapbox?

What inspired you to become a designer?
As a kid growing up on a farm in rural Australia, I was drawing from a young age and designing my own mix tape covers from about the age of 10. I remember when I was 12 reading a job description of a graphic designer and thinking it sounded like the coolest job on earth. I remember it seeming an impossible dream at the time … like wanting to grow up to be a transformer.

What other creative/art events do you attend?
Asides from design and advertising related speaker tours, I especially enjoy urban or street inspired art shows. I often attend student graduate design exhibitions here in town also, partly to scout for talent and partly seeing what the younger designers are up to these days.

The last design conference I attended was the OFFF conference in NYC 2 years ago (which was well worth it!).

I also watch and listen to a healthy dose of design, branding and new media podcasts and videos online, which help to keep the designer blood flowing!

When you aren’t working, what are you doing?
Travel is a big life priority for me—surf or snowboard trips with my wife or home to Australia whenever I can (not often enough).

My wife Shirley also runs a tennis clothing brand and coaching business so I help out with the design aspects—you don’t wanna see me with a racquet! http://www.kclawsport.com/

The other great love of my life is music. I used to sing and play in bands in Australia and these days I’m working on a set of 2-piece songs for bass guitar, vocals and drums.

What is your greatest accomplishment to date as a design professional?
Back in 2000 after being lead designer and art director for billabong.com, it was announced Best Website at the NEA World Extreme Sport Awards in Munich Germany. This was a serious high roller red carpet event with the who’s who of extreme sport and competition from some of the most dynamic websites on the planet. This was back in the days when Flash websites were king. We then went on to win again it the next year following a complete redesign. I continued working on their sites until I moved from Australia, and based on this experience landed work as an Art Director at O’Neill Europe (based in Holland) while traveling.

Who are your design heroes or mentors?
I’m the kind of guy who enjoys what’s new and exciting as well as old and established. My short attention span changes design heroes as often as underwear when it comes to modern influence, but I have traditional influences that I always come back to. Many of them are illustrators but the list also includes web developers, marketing gurus, and design historians.

Here’s a random smattering that come to mind in an equally random order:

Alex Trochut
Saul Bass
Mark Coleran
Folkert Gorter:
House Industries
Serial Cut
Big Spaceship
Jay Ryan
Kevin Dart
Frank Kozik
Jim Phillips
Rick Griffin
Alex Varanese
Jhonen Vasquez
Erik Natzke
Seth Godin
Jeffrey Smart
Scott Hansen
Albrecht Dürer

But ask again tomorrow and the list will be completely different. 🙂

Where can we find you?
linked in: Rowan Gearon
twitter: gearon

By Norma Riehle
Published July 22, 2010
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