Employee Spotlight: Katie Sakurai, Graphic Designer
Our graphic designer, Katie Sakurai, is truly one of a kind. She has a degree in Japanese, and for two years lived and worked abroad assisting junior high English teachers. After returning to the U.S., she graduated from Portland Community College with a degree in graphic design and has worked at Gard Communications since 2008. We love her sense of style and work ethic. She righteously won the coveted Gard Gold Star for 2015 and we’re proud to have her on our team.
Katie, what exactly do you do? Describe a typical day at work.
I’m a graphic designer, and I work on a variety of print and web collateral. This includes designing billboards, transit ads, print ads, brochures, signage, web ads, as well as doing image research, photo editing and creating logos.
Each morning, I meet with John, our creative director, and discuss the design projects we’re working on. Throughout the day, account managers may ask me to work on various collateral for clients. I generally work on several projects each day, although there are times a large project hits and I may be consumed with it for days.
What’s the most surprising thing about your work?
I think people may be surprised at how much work goes into making something that may look fairly simple, like a logo. People see logos every day and probably don’t think much about them, but they take a significant amount of time and effort to create. Some could argue that a logo could be made in an hour using a favored font and color and voila!, instant logo. But just because anything could be used as a logo, doesn’t mean it should be. A logo should always have thought and reasoning behind it.
For example, I worked on a logo redesign for BHEGroup, an engineering firm in Oregon. This was part of a larger rebranding project by Gard and there was a lot of brainstorming involved. I started my research online, exploring their website and their past work, as well as researching their competitors, industry trends, etc.
Once there was a strong understanding of the client’s goals and needs, the design process began. Because BHEGroup’s focus is engineering, I created a range of logo options that used geometry, precision and hard edges. These logos evolved over time as I received feedback from the client and the team. But even after a client chooses a logo, there’s usually further refinement to the design until they’re completely satisfied.
Creating a logo is a long process that considers who the client is, what they do, and how they want to be perceived.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your work?
As a designer, I appreciate order and like things to be arranged in a way that makes sense and is aesthetically pleasing. I enjoy the design process of starting with nothing and ending up with a finished design. For me, it’s satisfying to create useful items that serve a purpose for our clients. The biggest reward is when a project is done and I can see the finished product. I love seeing a final printed brochure or noticing a transit ad I worked on pass me by on the street.
Of all your past experiences, whether personal, educational, or professional, what’s influenced you the best for what you do now?
Ever since I was a child, I enjoyed drawing and making stuff, and my parents were always supportive of any creative endeavors. They also encouraged curiosity, questioning and independent thought, all of which are important when problem-solving—and design is often about problem-solving. It could be as simple as finding a logical way to organize content in a brochure, or it could be as complex as creating a logo.
What’s your favorite activity in your free time?
Over the last few years, I’ve come to enjoy sewing. I have a slight addiction to buying fabric and sewing patterns at thrift stores—and it’s dangerous because I see potential in everything. Although I’m not particularly skilled at sewing, I like to make some of my own clothes because it’s creative and I have complete control over the materials, cut and aesthetic. It’s a slow process for me, but there’s a satisfying sense of accomplishment once I’m finished.
What are you reading right now? What’s the next book on your reading list?
I’m currently reading What if? by Randall Munroe. It’s a book of serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions like, “how much physical space does the Internet take up?” or, “what if everyone actually had only one soul mate, a random person somewhere in the world?” I also like the cute drawings that help explain the science or provide a dose of humor.
The next book on my reading list is Journey Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino. I love mysteries with interesting and intelligent characters. I’ve enjoyed his other books that tend to be “how-done-it” rather than “who-done-it” mysteries.
At Gard, we’re proud of our diverse and talented team and value their unique voice and style. Our employee spotlights are a tribute to their hard work and dedication. Check out past interviews and stay tuned for the next one.