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Although Domtar is a company that specializes in paper, working in-house at Domtar has allowed multimedia specialist Ashley Maydak to spread her wings, taking on not only print design, but also digital design. Maydak shares her thoughts about Domtar’s in-house culture, and the opportunities she’s had to work with outside agencies who care just as much about design and the design process as she does.
What are some things you miss about working as a freelancer, or at an agency, prior to working in-house at Domtar?
I’ve always worked in-house. My job prior to Domtar was for Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (the convention visitors bureau for the city of Charlotte, NC). The organization managed all the public buildings for the city, so I had the opportunity to design quite a few large-scale environmental graphics, which was fun.
PAPERbecause: 28 Essays – Ashley Maydak: content creation, graphic design; Agency Partners: Eric Mower + Associates, Charlotte, NC – campaign creation, Pelican, Montreal, QC – copywriting
One thing I love about my current job is the variety. Domtar is a large, complex organization with multiple business channels and many brands, so I’m never stuck referring to the same brand standards all day long. The creative freedom and variety of printing techniques I can use in my projects is a lot of fun too. Virtually nothing is off limits! Plus, I’m very passionate about paper. Any job is more fun when you’re passionate about the product that’s created.
Aside for design projects, I also love the accommodating and encouraging culture here; as long as there’s a business case for it, you can make your job into virtually whatever you want it be. For example, although I was hired as a designer, I also manage the Domtar Blueline site, which targets graphic designers and printers (two major customers for one of our business channels). To further engage with the graphic design community, we’ve recently began hosting #BluelineChat twitter conversations on the last Thursday of every month, which have been a blast!
Domtar Blueline – Ashley Maydak: ideation, creative direction, project management, content management, blog management (including scheduling, contributor guidance, and tweaking posts as necessary to ensure best SEO outcome), lead blog contributor/content creator, promotion, social media optimization strategy; Agency Partner: Squires & Company, Dallas TX, design, programming
I love the fact that one of the components of my job is to connect to the graphic design community throughout the United States and Canada. I learn so much through each person I have the privilege to come in contact with.
burt – Ashley Maydak: ideation, graphic design
burt – Ashley Maydak: ideation, graphic design
sales meeting brochures – Ashley Maydak: content, copywriting, design
What are some of the reasons you wanted to get into an in-house position?
I think it just worked out that way, it was never really my goal. But I’m flexible. As long as it’s a creative, encouraging environment I think I would work pretty much anywhere.
Live on Cougar – Ashley Maydak: project management, creative direction; Agency Partner: Squires & Company, Dallas TX – design
What are some of the benefits of working in-house, related to the design work you do, the workplace culture, and camaraderie with your co-workers?
One big advantage to working in-house is you truly become a subject matter expert, giving you the opportunity to develop in other areas professionally because you don’t have to focus on learning a different business, over and over. In my case, I have a print/web design background, but I’ve been able to develop skills in video and content creation/curation. I think working in-house is a great fit for a designer with more than one professional interest.
EG High Speed Digital Ink Jet campaign – Ashley Maydak: campaign & brand creation, packaging design, graphic design
When looking to hire designers or interns, who may have little in-house experience, what are the soft skills you look for?
Compatibility is huge! A good personality fit is essential for any working environment. Confidence and a willingness to learn are huge to, but also is time management. This is a very fast paced environment. Any designer working here has to be able to manage multiple projects at once, creating quality design work for each of them.
Print Works – Ashley Maydak: ideation, creative/art direction, content creation, copywriting, promotion, go-to-market strategy
When looking to work with freelancers or outside agencies for your brand communications, what do you look for?
We look for someone that’s “more than a designer.” I like working with freelancers and agencies that are similar to the people that work at Domtar: innovative and enthusiastic about possibly leaving their “design comfort zone” if that’s what’s needed to make the project a success. I like working with people that care just as much about our projects and products as I do.
We all live in a media-saturated world that’s constantly in flux and becomes increasingly more difficult to define. As designers, this versatility makes it difficult to decide which media is the best choice for our editorial visions. With Designing the Editorial Experience by Sue Apfelbaum and Juliette Cezzar, discover what it means to design for multiple media, and gather advice from professionals in both the design and editorial fields in order to decide which mediums best suit your various design needs. Plus, get editorial design inspiration from examples of the best in the field being created today. Explore the audiences for content, what forms the content takes, how workflows are managed, and more. Get it here.