Stan Robertson is the Global Art Director for IRONMAN. Originally from New Orleans, he spent his teens in Oklahoma City. He is a six-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and a graduate of Miami International University of Art & Design. His design career has been based in Florida, where he’s worked for a mixture of design studios, ad agencies and media companies. Stan has more than 10 years of design experience. In 2017, he took the next step in his career: launching madebystan.com.
Tell me about your early years and where you come from.
During my time in New Orleans, I experienced a somewhat rough childhood. My mother was a single parent raising my sisters and me on limited resources. Up until middle school, I had never attended one school for longer than a year. During middle school, my family moved to Oklahoma City. It was there that I was able to flourish. I am thankful to my mother for having the strength and courage to make that change, and giving my sisters and me a better quality of life.
How did you first get interested in design?
I’ve been an artist and creative all my life. During middle and high school, I sold drawings of sneakers and custom hand lettering. But design first caught my attention during the early days of social media. I customized MySpace pages for fun. Soon after leaving the U.S. Coast Guard, I enrolled in college and began studying graphic design.
Tell me about the work you've done?
Over the course of my career, the type of design work I’ve done has continued to evolve. The first two-thirds of my professional life was heavily based in branding and identity design, for start-ups and large companies that were being bought and sold. For start-ups, I would create an entire identity package, including brand guidelines, in addition to their advertising and website design. For the large companies that were being acquired or sold, I would provide a brand refresh. I spent the latter third of my career in the media/magazine industry, working for Luxe Interiors + Design. I recently made a shift back to branding in my new role as Global Art Director for IRONMAN.
What are your proudest accomplishments of your career?
My proudest moments aren’t actual moments, but rather my development and progress. I push myself daily to improve as a designer, in skill, aesthetic and leadership.
What have been your biggest struggles of your career?
Being in a smaller creative market has been stifling at times. Smaller markets limit job prospects, exposure and resources. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with some amazing opportunities to work on projects that have had an expansive reach.
What are you doing that's special that sets you apart from your peers?
I believe that my creative process is what sets me apart. I invest time into studying my client, doing design research, creative development and collaborating whenever possible.
What have your experience been as a person of color in the design industry?
My experience has been similar to most businesspeople of color. Oftentimes, I’m one of few people of color on the job. And that creates an environment where I have to conform. That is difficult to say out loud, but it has also afforded me the opportunity to build some amazing friendships and experience other cultures.
What are your biggest motivators?
My son and daughter. Early on in my career, it was my competitive spirit and love for design. But now it’s definitely my children. My daughter is a creative also, and being able to share my passion with her means everything to me.
How do your friends and family feel about the work you've done?
Most of them think I just draw all day, haha.
What do you love most about working in design?
Being creative. I’ve done other things, and none of them compare to being a designer. Solving problems creatively with words, typography, colors, shapes and images is how the kid in me continues to live.
What would you like to see changed about the design field?
I’d like to see better representation at the agency level.
How can design be more accommodating to underrepresented populations of people?
By keeping art and design in the school curriculum and incorporating more outreach from the design community.
What are you working on right now, either for work or for yourself?
I’m currently working on the brand refresh of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. Find us in a city near you and “Run With Us.”
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? Do you think you'll stay in design?
I’m in this for the long haul. I hope that five years from now, I’ll be opening the doors of my own design studio.
What advice would you give to folks from similar backgrounds who are in design or hoping to get into it?
Polish your skills, learn how to communicate your concepts and process, and study your craft. It’s not about the software, it’s about the ideas and execution.