Graphic designer Jeff DeSantis paying a virtual visit to PCA&D Sept. 13

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Wednesday, September 7th, 2022

Jeff DeSantis’ day job is designing packaging for mass retail toys that find their way to the biggest stores in America … but he has an affinity for designing collectible toys, too. 

His career, with Just Play during the day and with his own company, BxE Buttons, allows him to pursue both.

The packaging/production graphic designer will speak to PCA&D students in an online presentation Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 2 pm, and the Google Meet is open to the full College community. 

DeSantis — who’s also played bass in several bands —  recently shared more about his passion for packaging, punk, and the greatest New Jersey karaoke song of all time:

headshot of bearded bald man in a plaid button down shirt

Jeff DeSantis

What steered you in the direction of graphic design and, in turn, packaging design?
I was always drawn more to print design over digital, preferring physical media in general. Packaging is interesting because you’re designing something that will be 3D and in stores.
You could focus on packaging for anything, and yet your career seems to have focused on toys/collectibles? Is that accurate? Is that world a passion outside of work, too?
Jeff DeSantis: Professionally, I work on mass retail items that can be found at places like Walmart and Target. I’ve worked in a few other industries like fashion, houseware, tech, but I’m personally drawn to collectible toys. Oddly I started making collectible toys before I was working full time in the toy world, learning as I went, as there’s a big difference between designing packaging and designing products. I’ve had two successful vinyl toy Kickstarter projects, with another one I am planning to launch in October.
What was a recent challenge you faced at work, and how did you get past the hurdle?
J DeS: I’ve been at my current job at Just Play for only a year, and despite having over 15 years of experience, every company does things differently. Getting used to the processes internally as well as working with licensors is occasionally tricky to navigate. Luckily we have a super talented and friendly team who’ve helped me get my footing.
packaging featuring a Minnie Mouse toy

Minnie Mouse packaging designed by Jeff DeSantis.

Tell us a little bit about BxE Buttons?
J DeS: I’ve done art under the name “Bleeding Edges” for years, and at some point was doing a record label with the same name. I had originally done BxE as a sub-brand of the label, but it ended up overshadowing the label completely. BxE Buttons is my own personal merch company that mainly makes enamel pins, patches, stickers, pennants, collectible toys, and even socks. Mainly existing as an online mail order business, I also do in-person events at conventions. My wife is also a graphic designer and does items as StaciaMade, so we will set up as BxE Buttons X StaciaMade.
What’s important for an art and design student to remember as they’re studying in their field? 
J DeS: Never stop learning! You will pick up new tricks at any job, whether it’s from your co-workers or on your own. Inversely, be open to passing down tricks to your team in order to streamline things.
If you could tour playing bass with ANY band, who would it be? 
J DeS: I think my days of any long tours are over, but realistically it would be with a DIY hardcore punk band. For purely fantasy, Guns N’ Roses has been one of my favorite bands since I was 8, but I couldn’t handle Axl’s drama if I had to be on tour with him.
Your profile says you’re a karaoke champion: What’s your go-to song?
J DeS: I won the karaoke competition at an old job singing “Summer of 69” by Bryan Adams. That job has since gone out of business, so I am undefeated! If I’m not in (New Jersey), I have to do “Livin’ On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi, since it is the New Jersey anthem.