Graphic Design hosting Fig Creative Director Jason James for Artist Talk

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Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

Design, says Jason James, is a gift that cultivates beauty in every aspect of life.
That attitude goes from his job, where he serves as Creative Director at branding and design company Fig Industries, to his lifestyle, where he calls himself a “sartorial enthusiast” (not to mention a superhero aficionado!).
James was introduced to Graphic Design while a student at Messiah University, and in his 10-plus-year career, hasn’t looked back, working in educational, corporate, and commercial design environments. As Fig’s Creative Director, he uses his curiosity in creative systems and human interaction to craft strong brands. When he is not designing, he can often be found collecting fashionable accessories, or listening to a thought-provoking podcast. He lives in Lancaster “with his lovely wife and three dogs,” and will be a guest of the College’s Graphic Design department, delivering an Artist Talk on Thursday, Feb. 9, at 11:30 am. The event is open to the public. 
Did you know, when you began college, that Graphic Design was what you wanted to pursue, or was it a “winding road” to get there?

Jason James: When I started college, I didn’t even know that there was a profession called Graphic Design. Advertisements and branding were still invisible to me at that point. I went into college as a film and communications major, but I always loved figure drawing and illustration. A friend of mine, who was in the program, introduced me to graphic design and all the possibilities that the major had to offer.

Can you describe all the roles you juggle as an Art Director for Fig?

JJ: I mainly manage the quality of the design projects that we produce. I oversee the design of the Fig Magazine, illustrations, branding, and anything else you can think of. I also art direct photoshoots when needed.

Is there a “typical day” for you — if so, what would it be and, if not, is that part of what appeals to you about the job?

JJ: There is a framework to my days, but each day brings something new with it. One day I could be designing a logo, and the next I’ll be directing a photoshoot. It all depends on what we have in-house. I love that things are always fresh and subject to change.

What’s a non-art and design-related skill you feel students should also be developing to be successful post-graduation?

JJ: Students should really develop a cognitive resilience and flexibility. The work we do isn’t art (although it can be). It’s created to solve a problem, so if the client doesn’t feel like it’s doing that, the designer needs to flex to their needs without getting their feeling hurt or feeling rejected.

And, finally: Has there been a particular challenge that you recently faced in your position as Art Director that you’ve never dealt with before? How did you resolve it?

JJ: More so an imperative than a challenge has been to step out of the way and allow my talented design team to take charge of projects and trust that they’re going to come to some great solutions to problems.