AIGA Interview with Sara Tack - Part 1
04.22.10 at 11:45 am by Sara Tack
An interview with Sara Tack was recently featured on the AIGA Upstate New York web site. Tack discusses her career, the decision to start a business, her sources of inspirations, challenges faced by women designers, and offers advice to young people entering the graphic design business. Below is part one – the full interview can be found here.
UPSTNY Member Interview
Sara Tack – Senior Vice President of Image & Identity for Wanderlust and Principal Artist for Smith & Jones
AIGA: What prompted you to start your own design studio?
TACK: The decision to start my own studio was fairly fortuitous—the result of a turn of events over a four year period, paths put in front of me by happenstance, and the choices I made at any of those given moments in time. I wish I could say that I planned it all, but it was really a matter of just going with the flow. If you have the time here is the brief history:
After graduating from Purchase College I landed a job as design assistant to Swiss designer, Fred Troller, in Rye, NY. (google Fred—he was part of a group of national and international designers in the 70’s who shaped corporate America.) I never applied for this job. I was recommended for it by the head of the design department at Purchase. A portfolio review was scheduled and I started work the Monday after graduation.
My decision to leave Fred’s studio was a result of my housemates moving to NYC and my boyfriend leaving for Albany to go to law school. Rather than moving with any of them, finding another place to live or getting new roommates, I took off for Europe for eight months. I was 23 and pretty impetuous.
When I got back from Europe I chose the guy over NYC and moved ‘Upstate’. The 80’s recession was in full force. Jobs were scarce. (Sound familiar?) Not knowing the Albany market I was again recommended for a job. This time it came through a family friend who knew the owner of one of many, now defunct, studios in Schenectady, that had grown out of GE’s incessant need for visual communication materials. I had left Fred Troller’s with work for IBM in my portfolio. I hate to say it, but when I showed my book, that name brand opened up a lot of doors for me and got me jobs. During my one year tenure in Schenectady I honed my production skills, broke up with my boyfriend and met many of my art and design friends. Through their introductions and recommendations I got so much freelance work that I left my job. Some of my clients included the NYS Health Department, Metroland Magazine, and the Hamm-Brickman Gallery.
Within the year, I received a call from a man named Mark Shipley, a freelance advertising copywriter, who had just moved to Albany from NYC. He was looking for a designer to work with and had gotten my name from his roommate - an artist friend of mine. Mark, being more of a salesperson than I, actively went out and sought clients. We worked on a ton of business together, each out of our own apartments, for about six months. One day he called me up and said he thought we should combine our clients, get some office space and start an advertising agency. The rest is history.
On April 1, 2010, Smith & Jones will celebrate its 25th anniversary. And recently within the past two years, with much planning and development, we started a second agency, Wanderlust, which specializes in marketing for travel and destination brands.
AIGA: What inspires you?
TACK: That’s a big question. Here are my top three in no particular order.
My next design challenge. As long as I keep moving the finish line I’ll be inspired.
My students. Not only do they keep me fresh and up-to-date, but mentoring and inspiring someone else is pretty inspirational. Here was my comment on inspiration from an AIGA Upstate NY blog post. View Post>>
Posted by newyorkupstate in Member Interview | April 5, 2010
Part 2 of this interview will appear in this blog soon.
If you're interested in reading the full interview, go to Sara Tack's AIGA Member Interview
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