Membership Spotlight: Jessica Bruton

The city is brimming with creative talent that continually inspires those within our community, as well as shapes the atmosphere within our city. AIGA Jacksonville shares some of these talents from within our member ranks in our series of, Membership Spotlights. This month we sat down with Art Director, Jessica Bruton — AIGA Member since 2004.

Jessi Bruton arrived in Jacksonville 6 years ago, by way of Flagler College. She’s spent the past 5 years as Art Director at Burdette Ketchum, working on projects ranging from branding to environmental graphics, consumer to business-to-business.

Whether it’s work on a logo for a client, or a t-shirt just for fun, Jessi prefers to include wit in the process. “I enjoy being clever. Design projects can be like strangers in a bar. You may be initially attracted to the one that’s simply beautiful, but it’s the one that says something interesting you end up remembering.”

This year she won a District ADDY with Burdette Ketchum for a conservation brochure for Rayonier, a leading international forest products company. The national awards will be announced on June 4, 2011 (fingers crossed).

In your experience as a designer thus far, what is one of the most personally valuable lessons you’ve learned?

Other than when you get takeout, remember to pickup lunch for your Creative Director, too?

It’s so important to never half-ass anything. There are the internal temptations, like when it’s 7:30 p.m. and you’ve been in the office since 8:30, or external ones, like when an account person says, “Don’t spend too much time on this, we don’t have a lot of budget.” But every time I’ve tried to skip a step in my process to, “Just crank it out,” I’ve ended up producing something substandard, which I won’t let out the door. And then there I am, back to square one, with that much time down the toilet.

It’s like I learned riding in the car with my mom—shortcuts never get you there any quicker. You just get totally lost and see some scary stuff along the way.

A recent popular blog among designers, Hovering Art Director, takes a bit of a jab at your current position, but how much, and what kind, of a hands on role do you find yourself playing as an Art Director?

First of all, you just know at least half of the HADs are just watching YouTube videos of kittens. Just sayin’

I’ve been known to enjoy a good hover. My favorite part of any project is collaborating to find a new solution, instead of trying to work in a vacuum. Plus, viewing things on-screen is a great way to see the steps in the process before things get too far. That said, there’s a fine line between being hands-on and micro-managing. You might say I prefer a drive-by hover: review, provide insight, and allow the lead designer to figure it out.

Chances are they’ll come up with something brilliant neither would’ve considered on their own.

Recently you went through the process of updating your portfolio once realizing, like so many designers, it had been somewhat neglected over time. Going through this process, how did you feel you had grown as a designer, or what were some of your personal realizations from where you had left off?

You know that moment when you pull out an old yearbook, look at your [hair / outfit / stupid grin] and think to yourself, “What the…?” That was my reaction when I leafed through my old book recently. So, I put it away as a sort of time capsule, and started fresh.

Honestly, my favorite thing about reviewing previous work is discovering what it did for the client. For example, EatUp Downtown, an annual Downtown dining week presented by Downtown Vision, Inc., has doubled the number of participating restaurants, and doubled the length of the promotion to 2 weeks. And in January Episcopal High School reached their capital campaign goal of $4 million, and now has beautiful new classrooms to show for it. How amazing is that?

Design projects are sort of like children. You love them no matter what, but you’re way prouder of the one who gets into college than the one who wrecked the car.

You’ve been a member of AIGA for quite some time, care to share a little bit about how involved you’ve been with the organization?

I’ve been a member of AIGA since 2004, which I guess really means I’ve been friends with an amazing circle of people since 2004.

I went from “member who attends events” to active board member in 2005, when I helped organize the re:CHARGE 06 conference hosted in St. Augustine. Jeff Harrington and Lisa Chelini were the co-chairs, and basically I thought they were great fun to hang out with, so I got involved helping out anywhere I could – coordinating hotel blocks, trying to find shots that came in test tubes. You know, the usual.

I then stepped up to chair re:CHARGE 08, which was amazing. It was a monumental task – we moved the conference to Downtown Jacksonville, expanded the event to 2.5 days, hosted a digital art show that coincided with Art Walk, and brought in amazing speakers from across the country. I don’t remember sleeping much during that time, but I had an amazing committee to help put it all together. It’s a great experience when your friends aren’t just fun to hang out with, but reliable and trustworthy people you’d vouch for in a heartbeat.

Recently I’ve relaxed my involvement a bit, and taken the the position of, “Woman who fills AIGA’s coffers by buying lots of wine tickets at events.”

Lastly, you recently returned from a trip out to France… food being among a traveler’s staple experiences, what was your most memorable food experience while you were there — and, if applicable, accompanied wine?

I love Paris, but my foreign language skills basically equate to smiling, laughing, and playing charades. We had lots of food and wine, but I couldn’t tell you what any of it was. I basically dropped the word “Vegetarien” and let the server surprise me. It was actually a great way to branch out and try things I may not have normally ordered.

However, I did return to the states completely obsessed with a particular French confection: the macaron.

For those unfamiliar, macarons are probably the world’s most perfect cookie. They come in a spectrum of colors and flavors, and are made by sandwiching two cookies with a bit of ganache or jelly, so the result is a cookie that’s simultaneously crunchy and chewy. They’re also impossible to find locally in Jacksonville.

Luckily for my friends, I love to bake. And my obsession with baking the perfect macaron keeps them fed. And they keep me from eating pounds of sugar by myself.

You can find more from Jessi at her website:

— jim, membership co-director

By aigajacksonville
Published May 18, 2011