Three of the city's best graphic designers discuss their work and vision
At some point in their careers, most creatives have to contend with day jobs to make a living. One of the best ways for artists to do this exists within the world of graphic design, where they can use their creative skills to promote a business, product, or event. We had a chance to talk to three of Chattanooga’s best and brightest Graphic Designers—Travis Knight, Ryan Oyer, and Cole Sweeton—about their day jobs and personal projects.
Travis Knight works as a web designer and creative consultant for Papercut Interactive. He also freelances as an illustrator, doing posters and branding for smaller businesses. He is responsible for the Cine-Rama logo, and is doing the art for their upcoming Frightening Ass Film Festival. He did the Tivoli website, and typically designs for medium sized businesses. He helps these businesses succeed, giving them responsive websites, and helping their customers find the websites with search engine optimization.
His designs are created with the Adobe Creative Suite, the websites mocked up with Sketch, and all of the coding done from scratch. Papercut Interactive doesn’t build onto an existing platform like Wix or Wordpress.
In his spare time, Travis creates intricately drawn and delightfully creepy monsters—many of them known as “Creeps”. He is in the process of launching a new website of Creeps and Monsters, travisknightdraws.com, where prints of his illustrations will be available. In addition, he is organizing the next Pop Con, a yearly design conference that will take place in mid-November.
Ryan Oyer works in Graphic Design and Marketing for AVM Enterprises, a wholesale supplier for hotels. They carry products for Econolodges, Comfort Inn & Suites, Windham, Best Value Inn, Red Roof, and Best Western. Ryan designs email marketing campaigns that showcase the products AVM carries. It is a competitive business, as AVM is one of four major providers of everything from microwaves and fridges to soaps and toilet paper.
He also designs for conventions, setting up booths, doing artwork for banners and rotating TV ads. “I find that incorporating people, whether it’s a hand or a face—anything human—draws people to a design. I try to have a person in anything we do. Clearly communicating the environment where the product is placed is also important—most of the time our customers don’t want to see abstract designs.”
Ryan’s experience in corporate marketing, and his four years of designing CD covers for WTS Media, has informed his designs for his band’s album art. His designs are simplistic, clean, and readable. “I like doing band art because it allows me more freedom. Music speaks for itself, but when you have images that people enjoy and can share, it broadens your audience and allows people to gravitate towards your band.”
For his newest album, he is primarily using the photography of Ricky Davis for the art. Ryan oversaw production, making the packaging at WTS. The photography is on black & white film, the cover image letterboxed with white bars at top and bottom—plain, simple, and clean. To pay tribute to his roots, the photos were shot at Tremont Tavern, the birthplace of his musical career.
Cole Sweeton got into graphic design for bands by doing fliers for Tremont Beauty Salon. He got involved in the music scene and began working with promoters from Nashville, Birmingham, and Atlanta. Over the years he has designed for The Revivalists, Strung Like A Horse, Nick Lutsko, Machines Are People Too, Decibella, and many other successful bands. He is now working for Bassnectar, doing signage and fliers for his shows and afterparties in the southeast.
“It became a mission of mine when I got involved in the music scene to make everything look better,” Sweeton explains. “There were some really good posters here and there, but Young Monster and I were the only ones who were really tackling the problem.”
Cole’s posters, album art, and band branding got him started doing design for businesses—he designed the Undaground App and logo, and is currently working on rebranding local music publishing company Honest Ox. Also employing the Adobe Creative Suite, he uses Illustrator to draw images, then assembles them in Photoshop, which has a wider range of filters that allows him to create more depth.
“I don’t really consider myself to be a specific kind of designer, because as a designer you become a problem solver—that’s the job description,” he notes. “You see a problem, and then you design a way to fix it. Whether it’s art, or something I need to build, or something I need to think through, I can do it all. It doesn’t have to be on paper or Photoshop—I can build a room out to design an atmosphere or vibe. I don’t like to limit myself.”