Our fantastic collaborator, Andy Epstein (author and editor of the InHOWse Design Blog) recently interviewed Jim Woods, the design director at United Pet Group, who’s on the lineup for the InHOWse Managers Conference in Chicago, June 24–27. Jim’s an 11-year veteran of in-house design; at United Pet Group he oversees an award-winning in-house creative team, as well as third-party agencies, photographers and freelance designers for the Tetra, Marineland, Instant Ocean, Jungle and AquaTech Brands. Here’s a snippet of their recent conversation; see the full story on the InHOWse Designer Blog.
I know you’ve worked as an in-house design team manager for a number of years. From your perspective, what are some of the biggest opportunities available to designers working in corporations today that they may not be taking advantage of? Every corporation is looking for ways to cut spending and become more efficient. This is the perfect opportunity for in-house managers and designers to reinforce the value they provide their company. We have been able to expand our department and get some new equipment based on our explanation of our team has been saving the company money. Before it would have been acceptable to spend money on outside vendors and we would not have been able to get these resources.
How about the biggest challenges? Spending and budget cuts can lead to opportunities, but they can also put a lot of in-house design teams in jeopardy. No one is ever completely safe from budget cuts, but the more your management team understands what you do and your value, the less likely your team will have to suffer cuts.
Could you talk about some of your recent successes at United Pet Group? We just launched a new packaging line look that is a fairly bold departure from our existing product lines. The new product is getting a lot of buzz in the aquarium industry because of the package design. This success has allowed us to create support material that marketing would have killed for being too “edgy”. Seven years ago we would not have been given this opportunity. Being able to deliver on a key product launch with a design that has been so well received has been a huge win for us.
If there is one piece of advice you’d give to an in-house designer, what would it be? Do not let day-to-day frustrations make you bitter. It will only get better if you make it so.