Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Some notes on John Vander Stelt: A Renaissance Man

Mr. John Vander Stelt was our guest designer and presenter for our AIGA Student Group event held on Wednesday, March 30. John works as a creative director, graphic designer, illustrator, artist, husband, and father. We invite you to check out John's blog. Colleague Matt Van Rys is again our fine purveyor of meeting notes, which are as follows:

John has lived in Sioux County his whole life and has been a part of the art community in Northwest Iowa for a long time. Coming from a creative family, it was no surprise that as a child John was drawing a recognizable as a Blue Jay before kindergarten. John continued as an artist by attending Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa as an Art Education major and enjoyed his student teaching experience, but didn’t feel it was his passion.

After college, John applied at K-Products and started as a Graphic Designer. Early on, he worked primarily designing and preparing artwork for promotional products, such as t-shirt screen printing and embroidery for hats.

After about two years, John moved to the catalog and creative department. This allowed for additional creative freedom and more direct client interaction. On many catalogs, John and his team would do up to six ideas for the client; often changing yearly due to evolving corporate tastes. A suggestion John has for students is to listen to your clients and design to best meet their objectives for the project; designing within their limitations while maintaining your creative freedom. John often uses Typography to express creativity through font choices, color, texture and such. Using type, while understanding the relationship between letters and utilizing positive versus negative space can exhibit the difference between a designer and an amateur.

About three and a half years ago, John left K-Products and began working as the Creative Director for Pizza Ranch, moving from a large corporate department to being the sole creative force behind a brand. While at K-Products, John worked with a variety of brands and had some concerns that working with just one brand would eventually get stale. However, just the opposite is true, and working with rebranding and branding has been very rewarding. John expressed that his job at Pizza Ranch was really an answered prayer.

John has developed the general direction for the Pizza Ranch brand and uses subtle techniques such as photo edges, distressing textures and textured typography to carry the brand through various pieces. This isn’t a change on a dime approach, but updating stuff as needed while continuing to re-evaluate whom Pizza Ranch is marketing to. For example, John has been adding more photos of people to help the customer relate better to the pizza product and the restaurant experience.

As the key creative person, John has a lot of creative control and also has to wear many “hats”, including writing the copy for his work, working on marketing plans, designing graphics for a Nascar stock car, directing photo shoots and even assisting with art direction on a TV commercial and an upcoming website update.

1 comment:

  1. When a profession combines the detailed, intrinsic talent like John has, with the personality of true empathy for others that he conveys, then you have a person that supports not only ideal business goals but also dependable, personal relationships. After knowing John for several years, I can say he exemplifies his 'faith' in business, friendship and family. Always a joy to be around.


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