As the month comes to a close, we’ve been thinking about the meaning of August. By definition—inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic. We decided to sit down with the PB design team and talk to them about the people, places, or ideas that they revere or admire. And what is it about each that has been such a source of inspiration?
Ciara Hylarides, Senior Designer
I see a split in the word august—the admiration part, and the reverence, or majesty. One is a temporary and the other a constant. Admiration for me usually comes in the form of a person or brand—an entity. The problem with admiration is that it’s very connected to humanity. It’s always changing, and one action can ruin it. It is easily moved, and sometimes outgrown.
Because of this, I can only truly say that it’s the other part of august—reverence and majesty—that has any real effect on me. You can’t outgrow the feeling from looking out from the top of a mountain. Or the brilliance of leaves turning. You can actually derive inspiration from those things again and again. I hear and see God in them. But even when I’m not immersed in the natural world, I hear and feel a great love daily that puts me in a place of wonder and awe. I love when I am able to remain there, because it takes my work to an inspired place.
Sarina Montenegro, Senior Art Director
Wabi-sabi is something that I’ve always been inspired by. It’s the true marriage of philosophy and art. In Japanese aesthetics, it refers to the acceptance of impermanence and imperfection. It enables me to keep my mind open, to have the mind set of acceptance and helps me appreciate things for what they are. To experience wabi-sabi you have to slow way down, be patient and look closer.
What I like about Wabi-sabi is that it’s authentic, unpretentious, unconventional and unapologetic. There’s a sense of integrity and peacefulness that brings you back to nature and what she has to offer. What one may see as imperfections are really marks of history and beauty.
Wabi-sabi is defined by simplicity. It’s about the ability to pare something down to its core essence—all without losing the invisible thread that holds individual elements together as a whole. It’s through this lens that I approach branding and design.
Audrey Na, Associate Creative Director
The person who has impacted my trajectory and the path I’m on is my husband, Eiji. From a cultural standpoint, meeting him helped reshape my attitude toward what we think is the “successful path.” As a Korean American, there was an expected path for me. I grew up believing there were things I was supposed to do. My husband grew up as a bit of a rebel in Japan. When we met, he began to challenge my beliefs about the status quo.
His outsider thinking challenged me to open my eyes and explore things I might not have on my own. Meeting him helped me to see the world differently. And he continues to challenge me around societal and cultural norms. Sometimes there’s some tension there, but he opens up my thinking and gives me a different perspective. From a creative standpoint, he’s always supported and encouraged me to dig deeper. He encourages me—challenges me even—to capture moments and to explore. Those are my growing moments.
Even in creative lines of work, we naturally over time develop creative biases and ways of doing things. Being empathetic, being open to new ways of doing things helps us do great work. You’ll tap into something you didn’t know was there. It gives greater dimension and develops character. That’s something Eiji has helped me see.
Cody Rasmussen, Design Director
The man I’m thinking about was my Professor at the University of Utah circa 1991-93. Raymond (Ray) C. Morales. I began college by deciding on an art focus. They offered a foundation program designed to give students a year to study a variety of art disciplines including painting, drawing, and sculpture. From this program you have to apply to the design program with your portfolio from the foundation program. This is where I met Ray, in the portfolio review.
Although this man did teach foundational design principles, style and simple layout, he inspired my career by teaching design thinking. He taught philosophy and how to explore the unexpected and how to recognize it. He taught white space and how to believe in it. He taught surprise and delight. He taught how to tweak, tweak again, and tweak yet again for an aha moment. He taught what it feels like to have fire in the belly. We learned how to start small, stay focused and be patient. To design without complexity. Each year, I connected more and more to what Ray had to teach. Each year I believed more in myself. Each year I succeeded in the program, and was ultimately awarded the only full-year design department scholarship to finish out my BFA at the University of Utah. I interned with Ray and had his support as I ventured off to NYC to become a designer.
I carry with me his influence as I continue on my journey through my career and life.
Andrew Schroeer, Senior Designer
Stanley Kubrick is my all-time favorite filmmaker. 2001 A Space Odyssey is the film that changed everything for me. It’s profound. 2001 is ultimately about the search for a god. The ending is so ridiculous in a way, but most people at some point wrestle with questions like why am I here? and what’s going to happen when I die? It’s deeply philosophical. And beyond that, to say that it’s a technologically groundbreaking film is an understatement. People are still making science fiction films that don’t look that good.
Kubrick is also a minimalist. Don’t put more in than is necessary. That’s fundamental to his art. And it’s been an influence to me as a designer. I try to push things to the extreme in terms of minimalism. Tons of white space. White space can be really powerful. I’m a traditionalist. I’m much more interested in doing work that’s going to still look good in five years, in work that will hold up, rather than keep up with trends. Trendy work can sometimes be an easier sell. And sometimes minimalism can seem really boring. But I like the challenge in that. Aiming for minimalism and still ending up with something that sings, something that has emotional resonance—that’s a challenge I aspire to.
Harry Wirth, Production Designer
In my formative years—my late teens and early 20s, in the late 80s and early 90s—I was very much influenced by the grunge scene that was exploding around me. The artists who created the visuals that accompanied the music were a big influence—designers like Art Chantry and Lisa Orth, the photographer Charles Peterson. That was when I decided to pursue graphic design and go to art school.
My real journey began long before that. The person who had the biggest influence on me and who I admired the most was my uncle Rob. Rob was a gifted illustrator and mixed media artist who used to draw me the most beautiful and intricate illustrations when I was very young. His sharing of his creative gift with me really ignited my own creative curiosity and aspirations. Unfortunately we lost Uncle Rob at the height of the AIDS crisis in 1992 but he has always stayed with me and remains a creative inspiration to this day.
Leslie Phinney, CEO
There are many people, places and things I revere or admire. But I keep coming back to one.
I find continual, ongoing inspiration from the entire PB team.
Every day at least one person here does something that leaves me in awe. And it’s often more than once a day. Maybe it’s an inspired insight or a smart concept and beautiful design. Or maybe it’s how a tricky issue was handled in an elegant way. Or an unexpected observation that completely changes my thinking about something. Or a well-conceived presentation that impresses. Sometimes it’s the group sharing individual insights about work in progress. Or maybe it’s simple kindness and thoughtfulness observed towards the rest of the team, or a client, or both. Maybe it’s the courage displayed here daily—the courage to put oneself out there on our individual and collective heart-sleeves.
It’s an honor to get to work with such a thoughtful, amazing, fun and talented group of people who are 100% in and 100% into their work.