"This Gun For Hire" – The projects & design blog of Alexander Flores

TURNING A NEW PAGE

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this design blog of mine. Admittedly, it’s because I’ve been pretty busy starting a family and balancing the demands of being back in big advertising. For the last 13 months, I was an Associate Creative Director at the 101 year-old Dallas-based ad agency TracyLocke. After leaving my five year Art Director post at the beloved Dallas Observer, I was taking it easy freelancing, working on various projects for a small but lucrative group of clientele. Ranging from my own direct design clients, to doing stints at agencies around town, I had been looking for my next move. Gratefully, over the year and a half I was sailing solo, I was approached by various entities for positions, a few being for art director positions at city magazines around the country. For varying reasons for each, I didn’t bite on any of the offers. Truth be told, as honored as I was to be solicited by some great publications and by some great people, it just wasn’t the right move for me, or it just didn’t feel right. In the meantime, I was able to still exercise my editorial skills at Success magazine, helping their new editor and creative staff with carrying through a redesign that the indomitable Robert Newman kickstarted for them. I became a contributing art director creating features and special sections for them for a little over a year, and it was a great way for me to keep one foot in the editorial world while still exploring my options.

Amidst all this, my wife and I had decided that it was time for us to try to start a family. We weren’t getting any younger, and it was something we both wanted before it became too late to do so. The time for us was now, and so was the time for me to start evaluating my career options for the sake of some more stability as we embarked on this new chapter in our lives. This was when TracyLocke came calling, for what I thought at first was a solicitation for freelance work. I began my professional creative career at TracyLocke back in 1999 as an intern while still in art school. I would be offered a full-time position (while still in school) and over the next five years, I would climb the ladder to art director, and worked on some fantastic projects with some wonderful people. At the end of 2004, I decided I needed to move on and see what else was out there. It was a bittersweet departure, as the agency became a family to me, but I felt like I needed to leave the nest and try my hand outside a big agency and seek out other creative endeavors at a smaller boutique design shop. Since then, I’d been at a few places of varying scope and size, and having left The Locke under good graces, they saw that I was available, and had already served a tour of duty before. I was approached to fill an Associate Creative Director position on their HP account, and the timing couldn’t have been more fortuitous. My wife and I had a hunch that we may be expecting our first child around this time, and the same week I went in to interview for the position, we had our first sonogram confirming, in fact, we were pregnant.

As well as I was doing freelancing on my own as an independent contractor, as any one who’s done it before, for all the perks it has, it’s also a demanding hustle. I wanted to be able to focus on the next nine critical months on the most important thing that I’ve ever been involved with, and be able to leave work at an office that wasn’t also my home. I was happy to join the TracyLocke family once again, being dubbed a “boomerang” for returning. It was time to put my advertising hat back on, put my editorial design hat on the shelf (along with my collection of magazine back-issues) and look forward to building both a new family and reset my career.

It was nice being back at the agency where I cut my creative teeth, even if a lot of the faces and office furniture had changed. There were some long-timers still around, and it all felt like walking the halls of your old high school after so many years post graduation. Then, after only a couple of months on the HP team, it was decided by the client and upper-management that the business would be consolidated to TracyLocke’s east-coast office in Connecticut, where the other parts of the HP work were done. Fortunately for our Dallas-based team, we weren’t asked to relocate, but instead jump on a new piece of Samsung business that the agency had acquired in addition to the business the agency already held. The transition was made, and my team continued to persevere through internal management changes, as well as client personnel changes. After the turn of last year, I was asked to remain on the main part of the agency’s Samsung business by our Executive Creative Director to lead special design projects as well as bolster the existing team as the client’s creative demands increased. Things were as they could be expected with a high-profile, fast-paced client such as Samsung, I was making ways within the company, and I felt good about being back in the swing of things, despite the craziness that is the advertising life. All of this became quite the task, especially while adjusting to being a new dad to an amazing new baby boy who was born in February of this year. He is without a doubt the best creation I will ever be able to take credit for, and on the most demanding, draining days, coming home to his smiling eyes always make any toil worth bearing. Being surrounded by good people in the office can make up for wanting to pull your hair out at times also. Hair-pulling aside, I certainly wasn’t yet at a place where I was looking outside for an escape, even though I was in fact approached a few times by interested parties while back at The Locke. Again, they just didn’t feel right.

Then a new opportunity came knocking. But this time, there was something different. Details spared, after much consideration, much discussion, and a strong pitch made to me by the Executive Vice President and co-founder of Ink, Michael Keating, as well as new Global Creative Director, the esteemed editorial designer Andy Cowles, it was very apparent to me that this opportunity they offered me was not one to pass up. That opportunity is to become the new Group Design Director of their newly acquired American Airlines account, overseeing American Way, Nexos, and Celebrated Living magazines. Ink is an award-winning leader in in-flight and travel publishing, and with this new position comes a complete redesign of all of the magazines, to be re-launched January 2015.

My official first day on the job is Monday, October 13; the day before my birthday. This new adventure is most certainly a gift, and one that cannot go without giving thanks to everyone who has believed in me, and recognized my work and talents throughout my career, going all the way back to my teachers in my art and design education, to my bosses and leaders I’ve worked for in the past, to teammates I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside with. A special thanks is reserved for a dear colleague and mentor who recognized my work, and has been a friend and confidant of mine, as well as in inspiration both on the page and in life. Robert Newman discovered my alt-weekly editorial work for the Dallas Observer many years ago, and was always a vocal champion of my abilities. His unsolicited promotion of my work within the editorial community led to more recognition from great entities and curators like Jaap Biemans of Coverjunkie, Nascapas, the Society of Publication Designers and Eye magazine. When he suffered a tragic accident last year, the editorial design community was crestfallen, myself included, naturally. It filled my heart to see how everyone he has connected with professionally came together to support his recovery. We all contributed to his time of need in so many ways, without a second thought, just as he has contributed his encouragement and support to all of us who have had the pleasure to work with him, or be within his sphere of delightful influence. Now that Bob is back on his feet (and kicking), all his friends and colleagues are thrilled to see him continue to succeed, and I hope to honor what his continued support has meant to me by flying high at this new post that he himself recommended me for. Thank you, Bob.

See you in the skies.

Delicious typography.

texasmonthly:

Playing with your food never looked so good. Watch Creative Director TJ Tucker hand paint all the lettering (hand drawn by Jon Contino) for our June cover in BBQ sauce. 

File under “Design Nerdery”

theatlantic:

Uncovering the First, Fascinating Rulebook for Subway Sign Design

The 180-page binder, the key to the system’s iconic design choices, outlines a meticulous vision of signage intended not merely to look good — though it does — but to simplify navigation of the subterranean labyrinth. In its attention to passenger behavior, the manual goes above and beyond what most of us would term graphic design.

“The subway rider should be given only information at the point of decision,” proclaimed the designers. “Never before. Never after.”

Read more. [Images: NYCTA]

Contributing to SUCCESS (Magazine)

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NEW WORK
It’s time for another blog update on the work I’ve been doing quietly and steadily in the shadows. Since April of last year, I have been a contributing art director to the nationally distributed business periodical, Success Magazine. The first assignment given to me by editor-in-chief Susan Kane, who took over the magazine in the last year and a half, was for their special technology issue cover story about the various businesses of gaming. The cover (seen above) which I art directed and commissioned the pixel-art maestros of QuickHoney, won a best cover award from Min’s Editorial and Design Awards last year.

Since that first assignment, I have been contributing feature story editorial design every month for the magazine. Here are some highlights from within their pages. It’s been a true pleasure to work with the editorial staff at Success, including Creative Director Carl Waters, for nearly a year now. I will be updating my online portfolio editorial section shortly hereafter. More updates on the way.

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Branding Dallas Photographer Brandon Thibodeaux

NEW WORK
I am proud to present the first in a series of new work updates along with other projects that are (and have been) in development now since before the turn of the year. Some work cannot be divulged until clients sign-off on completion (stay tuned for those updates over the coming weeks…), but, fortunately, this particular project has come to a close for an esteemed colleague and friend, Dallas-based photographer/photo-journalist, Brandon Thibodeaux.

I was approached by Brandon to take on the immense honor of branding himself and his incredible work months ago. After much discussion and exploration, I was able to arrive at a design that best reflected not only the personality of the artist, but the craft of his work. Branding another creative is admittedly a daunting task, as logo design is one of the most personal and fragile kinds of projects to handle. In this case, it is more than developing a mark for a new consumer product or sales promotion, but authoring a signature for a living soul, and their body of work.Taking the very notion of “authoring a signature” became the inspiration that lead us to the design that best represented Mr. Thibodeaux’s aesthetic in capturing his images; framing life with his own unique perspective.

You can visit his newly updated website at brandonthibodeaux.com and read a recent interview by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

Happy New Year! I am excited to declare the news that I have lots of new projects, goals, and ideas for Twenty-Thirteen that I will be posting about over the course of January. Yet seeing how things haven’t really stopped since closing  out Twenty-Twelve, and with more projects already developing, I’m exactly a week late on posting this first blog entry for the new year. Better late than never, as they say. Nevertheless, the latest bit of news, received yesterday (as seen in the image) was a good catalyst to get a post published. More to come, stay tuned!

Happy New Year! I am excited to declare the news that I have lots of new projects, goals, and ideas for Twenty-Thirteen that I will be posting about over the course of January. Yet seeing how things haven’t really stopped since closing out Twenty-Twelve, and with more projects already developing, I’m exactly a week late on posting this first blog entry for the new year. Better late than never, as they say. Nevertheless, the latest bit of news, received yesterday (as seen in the image) was a good catalyst to get a post published. More to come, stay tuned!

Instagram Blog: Thank you, and we're listening

instagram:

Yesterday we introduced a new version of our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service that will take effect in thirty days. These two documents help communicate as clearly as possible our relationship with the users of Instagram so you understand how your data will be used, and the rules that govern…

Instagram’s response to the outcry…

Introducing the Dallas Neighborhood Project.
Check out my latest collaborative design project with Dallas online magazine, CentralTrack.com. This will be the first series in an ever-growing series of DTX neighborhood logo t-shirts that will be available exclusively via Central Track, printed with love by the great folks at Dallas-based Printed Threads.
Go visit Central Track for the story and all the designs (16 total, including North, South, East & West Dallas general locale logos). You can pick up your favorite neighborhood tee available now in the CT online shop, just in time for those last-minute holiday gifts!

Introducing the Dallas Neighborhood Project.

Check out my latest collaborative design project with Dallas online magazine, CentralTrack.com. This will be the first series in an ever-growing series of DTX neighborhood logo t-shirts that will be available exclusively via Central Track, printed with love by the great folks at Dallas-based Printed Threads.

Go visit Central Track for the story and all the designs (16 total, including North, South, East & West Dallas general locale logos). You can pick up your favorite neighborhood tee available now in the CT online shop, just in time for those last-minute holiday gifts!

I had a excellent time and honor being one of the Dallas creatives to share and participate in Behance’s Portfolio Review Worldwide Meetup Day this past weekend. Thanks to Justin Park and Aneil Razvi for organizing the sessions, and especially to Tom Hussy for opening up his studio to host as well as participate (and for all the TACOS!). I hope Tom, Blake Cleavenger, Danielle Aldrich and myself were able to give some helpful tips and criticisms to the young aspiring creatives that attended. Watch the video above to get a taste of what these events mean, what Behance advocates, and hopefully we’ll see you at the next one!

"Creativity is not just an opportunity, it’s a responsibility."

When it comes to the hand-drawn vintage aesthetic, the guy who’s setting the bar, establishing his style and making it look oh-so-effortless is the renowned Jon Contino.

You can find his work scattered about my boards on Pinterest providing that certain dark-brewed flavor of inspiration that I really like. I’ve been a fan of Contino’s work for some time, and it’s awesome to see a designer’s personal brand grow like I’ve witnessed with him. This video is a treat to watch and hear Contino talk about his approach to his work, as well as life. It’s  always nice to hear about similar beginnings/interests/philosophies in another creative professional, especially one that does work that I find stylistically inspiring and is considered to be in such esteemed criterion, for both its aesthetic and context. Check out the self proclaimed alphastructaesthetitologist  Jon Contino profiled by Kevin Steen on It’s Nice That.

Printed Matters: Editioned Works by Shepard Fairey at The Public Trust

You’ve seen the iconic murals around Dallas, now there’s a chance to own a piece of the infamous aesthetic. Tomorrow evening, visit The Public Trust gallery in Deep Ellum, DTX to catch a solo show by none other than the notorious Shepard Fairey. I hear the large pieces are already being scooped up, but there will be pieces of all sizes and prices on display.

It will be quite the showing, the first of it’s kind for Fairey here in Dallas, if I’m not mistaken. Regardless, I’m very happy that my pal Brian Gibb of the Public Trust was able to bring down his pal Shepard to show in Dallas in the wake of his recent local public works. If I’m lucky, I might be able to snag a Fairey original before they’re all spoken for. See you there!

thepublictrust:


We are excited to kick off our Fall season with a solo exhibition of editioned works by Shepard Fairey. Below is all the info you will need. We will also be launching a new gallery website in conjunction with this opening.

The Public Trust Presents
Printed Matters
Editioned Works By…