Blake Howard and his colleagues at the Atlanta branding agency Matchstic have an interesting approach to doing pro-bono work called On The House. They give a local nonprofit group a complete overhaul—not just a new logo, but a complete brand wardrobe. Howard will be at the HOW Design Conference speaking about how designers can create their own platform for doing pro-bono work well, and avoid the pitfalls that often arise when you’re working for the greater good. We recently asked him a few questions about his work and background:
When did you first realize you wanted to be a graphic designer?
In high school. I loved art class and illustration but had no “starving artist” bone in my body. My mom heard about Graphic Design and bought me a few magazines about it (ironically one was HOW). I fell in love with the discipline from day one. I almost felt guilt in college when no one else knew their major and I declared mine right away.
What was your first job in the design field?
I’ve never officially worked for anyone else other than an unpaid internship at Sony Music in Nashville designing album covers, where I got to design a Johnny Cash cover which made it all worth it. So, I’d have to say my first job would be doing freelance design that eventually turned into our firm, Matchstic.
What factor plays a bigger role in a new project – lack of time or a small budget?
I think that’s an oxymoron. For us, a smaller budget means you have less time to execute the work. Usually, we have a target billable rate we’re trying to hit but if it’s a project we’re passionate about we’ll lower that target rate in order to get more time to make the work amazing. It is always a tough tension to manage, just like the tension between art and commerce.