Tapping Into the Creative Flow: A Chat with Graphic Designer Alex Robinson - DeanHouston+

Company, Creative Design, Inspire

Tapping Into the Creative Flow: A Chat with Graphic Designer Alex Robinson

When Alex Robinson joined DeanHouston+ as a full-time graphic designer in the summer of 2021, he was looking for a collaborative environment where he could be part of the right team and stretch his creative muscles.

Following several stints in different design roles after graduating from Bowling Green State University, Alex knew right away he’d found what he was looking for with the DeanHouston+ team of creatives and digital gurus.

In this DeanHouston+ exclusive, we chat with Alex, who gives us a peek behind the curtain of some exciting client work, his thoughts on artificial intelligence, a thriving collection of art and memorabilia and his creative inspirations.

Alex, take it away.

DH+: What’s up, Alex? Take us on the path you ventured prior to DeanHouston+.
AR: I was born in Cleveland and spent my early years up by Lake Erie. I ultimately moved with my family to Cincinnati during high school. For college, I traveled back up north to attend Bowling Green State University, where I spent four years getting my BFA in graphic design with a minor in creative writing. I then went back to Cleveland, where I worked as a designer for a nonprofit focused on community development, followed by designing for a marketing agency. I also spent a year as the art director for a travel, health and beauty magazine. In a turn of events, I went back to Cincinnati, where I joined DeanHouston+.

DH+: What drew you to DeanHouston+ initially, and what do you enjoy most about working here?
AR: I was craving a creative, collaborative environment. When I saw DH+’s portfolio and clients, I realized there was a great deal of overlap with my own experiences. Upon learning more about the structure of DH+’s teams and their scope of work, I knew I wanted to be part of it.

I most enjoy focusing on growing my skillsets, utilizing my talents and collaborating with our team. I have worked at many places during my career thus far, but never have I had such a unified and strong team as I do at DH+. When I am hit with a tough project, I know I have a support system behind me, and I’m never afraid to open conversations with other coworkers who help with their own insight and skills.

DH+: What are some of your favorite clients or projects you’ve worked on? Does anything stand out?
AR: There are so many incredible projects it’s hard to narrow down my favorites. One of the most exciting that I’ve been involved with was the launch and continued campaign for Autolite’s brand character, Autolite Annie. With the help of our wonderful content and digital teams, we have brought Annie to life through a dedicated social account, animated interview videos, and, most importantly, Autolite Annie’s interactive garage and shed. Using prior experience working on digital event spaces, I helped lead the design of digital environments for Annie, showcasing her knowledge of automobile repair in her garage and lawncare tips in her backyard shed. There is something magical about seeing the assets I have designed come to life through interactivity developed by our digital team.

DH+: What is your typical creative process like for client work? What other teams do you involve during production?
AR: Each client is different, but there are important fundamentals that always need to be addressed when starting a new project. We make it a point to take great care of our client’s brands. We identify the goals and expectations, then I go through phases of conception, sometimes sketching rough drafts and looking to techniques I think would best achieve the creative direction. Depending on the project, I will collaborate within our creative team, and with content and digital. For instance, if a project would benefit from the use of a 3D render, I can reach out to my teammates who have modeling expertise to help create assets that I can utilize in a design. If we feel that content could be cut down or expanded upon, I meet with content to discuss options. Our digital team is incredibly skilled at taking our web concepts and making them come alive with interactivity and animation.

DH+: When it comes to design, what is something you want to work more on in the future?
AR: I am pumped to get into more digital spaces, especially in the realm of interactive product demos and digital event environments. One thing that came out of the pandemic was the realization that we need more options for clients when meeting in person is not possible. By using modern technology, we can craft really cool digital spaces for others to view online and be immersed in a brand. We have tons of tools available to educate and inform. It’s super cool designing pieces that become online hubs for viewers to experience a brand’s story.

DH+: AI is a hot topic these days. What’s your take on AI art? Can it be a useful design tool, or is it just a fad?
AR: The exponential growth of AI is hitting the world faster than society can prepare for, and I think it is very important to follow developments closely. As a designer, AI tools allow for the quick generation of image and text assets that I can see being very beneficial in the process of developing art. But my big concern is the ethical and legal issues that arise when it comes to what kinds of databases the AI pulls from. To me, an image generated by AI is not art and should never be considered a finished piece. AI can provide stepping stones to assist in the creative process but should never be something to replace the whole process.

DH+: What do you love most about being a designer and why?
AR: I was the kid in school who would always doodle on my notes and draw comics that I’d share with friends at the lunch table. I knew from a young age that I wanted to tell stories through art. Design has been a major outlet for me to express creativity through learned techniques and experiences. I love being able to not only tell stories myself but to help others who wish to achieve their goals, elevate their brands and bring a message to the world. No matter the client, I see the opportunity to tell a story and try new things to grab the attention of a viewer and take them on a journey through art and design.

DH+: Any hobbies or personal projects you enjoy in your spare time when not working on client projects?
AR: I’m a huge nerd with a collection of all sorts of art figures, pop culture memorabilia, graphic novels, video games and more. I love seeing others express their creativity through different art forms. I occasionally dabble in illustrations, paintings and other creative activities. I could talk endlessly about my favorite giant robots and tell you facts about childhood cartoons.

I am also a lifelong advocate for human rights and community development, especially in many current issues facing the LGBTQA community across America and the rest of the world.

DH+: As an artist and marketer, who inspires you?
AR: I am inspired by artists who break outside the box of their medium and try new and experimental techniques. My all-time favorite animator is Japanese director Masaaki Yuasa, creator of films including Mind Game, The Night is Short, Walk on Girl, Lu Over the Wall, and so many other masterpieces. I can’t emphasize enough how his work showcases fluidity in animated storytelling and weaves together narratives through unconventional movements and visuals. Seriously, check out his work.

This has been great, Alex. We appreciate you giving us some insight into working on client projects, your creative process and your interests. Thank you for all your continued great work!

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