Interview with Adam Warner, Graphic Designer
The man behind most of our recent main ad campaigns, graphic designer Adam Warner has been working with PARK for over 2 years now, and we finally got to find out what he actually thinks about us! Check out his interview with Adriana and Allison Seto below:
When did you first get involved with PARK and how?
PARKLUXE 2014 was the first time when I was hired to do additional design work -- I wasn't tasked with doing a campaign. Previous to that I had met Kara (Chomistek, President at PARK) on set for another job. She was a stylist, and we became friends and she hired me to be a designer to create some posters. But then we liked each other instantly. And that's how it works, I think -- you try each other out, and if it's a good personal fit and you jive and have that chemistry, then you decide to create an ongoing relationship.
The first campaign I was in charge of was PARKLUXE 2015. It was interesting because they'll give me a mood board, but other than that I had a lot of room to do what I want -- it was like a blank sheet of paper, which is always scary as an artist. With a piece that you're working on, you have a love/hate relationship with a campaign where in the beginning it's super exciting, and you have to try to maintain that excitement even when you get to the end and you're sorting out the little details.
How would you say the way you approach a PARK campaign has changed from when you first started?
I think I take way more risks now, especially since I've established that trusting relationship with the team. I can kind of go out on a limb. We have this relationship where there's honesty and no one is getting their feelings hurt. We're changing together in that way too where we're both wanting to do more energetic concepts that are less conservative. The longer a relationship I have with a client, the better the work is because you can get past all of the frivolous stuff and focus.
I think a huge part of relationship building is developing the vernacular. I think in a way we have developed our own shorthand where we understand each other better now -- it can always be as a graphic designer challenging when someone says "make it cleaner," or other kinds of ambiguous feedback like that. So we've definitely gotten to a point where they know what they want enough to vocalize their feedback so that things are extremely efficient, since there's a lot of work to do.
What do you think is the root of your work relationship with PARK?
I know aesthetically we are similar -- we have a shared vision and similar tastes. That helps for sure. I feel like, especially now that I've earned their trust, I can show them something and we're all happy with it initially. That tells me that our vision is aligned and we see things the same way. I think too I'm a super passionate person, I get fired up, and everyone at PARK is like that too. When you have that shared energy or frequency, you just get along really well. And I really like what they do for Calgary. I always struggled with it as kid, where people would leave to Vancouver or Toronto because Calgary wasn't "cool." And some people stuck around and were like, "okay, well let's make it cool" -- so I've always had respect for people who put effort into building Calgary's culture and scene. And I've always wanted to work with people who are building towards that, especially in the accessible way, as what PARK's doing is really grassroots.
I've lived here my entire life and I've noticed how much more interesting Calgary has become as a city in the last 10-15 years. If you stick around and push outside your comfort zone, I find there's a lot to do here if you're looking for it.
I feel like Calgary is a very collaborative place, where creatives are more about sharing than competing. It goes back to there being so much stuff to check out here too. I remember with my first PARKSHOW I went to I was blown away by the experience -- it was just so much fun. So it's really important to get out of your comfort zone, because you get inspired seeing other people's work out there. Even going for lunch with the right friend will get you fired up to do the work again.
What's your favourite campaign that you've worked on?
Definitely Calgary PARKSHOW 2017. This campaign is really cool because it's extremely graphic and edgy, in terms of typography. For me, it's a really good starting point to have some fun and push our creative boundaries a little further. I think every campaign that I start working on is my favourite.
What sort of challenges are you confronted with in the midst of a campaign?
Time, for sure. I feel like we're finishing a campaign just as another one is starting up. We're always trying to stay one step ahead, working on other stuff while you're waiting for things to be approved. I think too, when you have an event like that you have a lot of stakeholders, so you need to be able to represent the brand, get the feel of the show, and honour the sponsorships. So that's a challenge making sure you're meeting all of those goals.
What would you like people to take away from your work?
I think I don't want them to take anything away from it. I read a quote once about how "good design is about design you don't even notice." If you've noticed it, it's probably because there's something wrong with it or there's a bad choice. For me, for something like PARK it's about making the photograph the focus. It's about giving off the attitude that's appropriate for that show in particular, so you're trying to be subtle and not spoon-feed people either. It's a bit paradoxical. You want people to notice the poster from afar, but once they're there you want them to be lost in it and not think "Wow, I love that font! What a grid!" You just want it to catch their attention and compel them to do whatever the intention of the campaign is to do. Graphic design is about communicating, so I'm trying to get them to go to the shows.