Today’s Feature – July 22-23: Amber Weinberg

July 23, 2008 at 2:39 pm (Today's Feature)

Looking at some of the work from our latest feature, you’d have no idea that she just very recently graduated with her BFA in graphic design. You’d probably be even more surprised to learn she’s running her own business, Lost Spots Design, at the age of 22. But Amber Weinberg has been taking on the art of graphic and web design from a whole new angle for years, combining knowledge gained from both classes and self-taught lessons.

Her take on design is unique of course, combining elements from a variety of experience. She explains she was once asked to describe the work her company does in 7 words or less – She went with “I make your business visible and appealing. Visible to the outside world of customers, and appealing them to come inside.” Seriously, check out her site and look for yourself. There’s some great stuff in there, from packaging, to business cards to all sorts of art. Clearly, what we here at PensEyeView enjoy most are the posters and designs geared towards music, and luckily Ms. Weinberg has some great taste (A Perfect Circle fan? Awesome). Anyway, you can learn more about her designs at http://www.lostspots.com, and so much more in the XXQ’s below (especially if you are interested in a career in graphic design as well).

XXQs: Amber Weinberg

PensEyeView.com (PEV): When did you first get involved in the art world, let alone design?

Amber Weinberg: I loved reading manga (Japanese comics) when I was in middle school, particularly Sailor Moon comics because the artist’s work was absolutely beautiful. I feel in love with those comics so much I decided I wanted to be a comic artist and taught myself to draw by copying those comics. (Of course by the time I hit college I decided drawing was not my dream anymore). As far as graphic design goes, I never knew it until high school but my Aunt is also a designer in Boston, so I guess it runs in my family. (Even my little sister is getting started now). I started out by making websites in the sixth grade in simple HTML and editing photos, and was actually allowed to tutor other students! Back then, however I was on a crummy little windows 95 machine, so I never really learned anything advanced until college. Web design is really what got me into other aspects of design, and I never realized I could actually make money until my last year of high school or so when I finally decided that’s what I really wanted to do for a living. However, I actually lost my taste for the web for a while and was completely interested in print design until about a year ago when I realized how much I missed web design. The college I went to actually doesn’t teach web programming, so everything I know on the web has been self-taught.

PEV: Growing up, what kind of artists or artistry sparked your interest?

AW: I’ve always been a huge manga fan like I said before, but I also love Old World paintings, my favorites being Botticelli and Degas. I always wanted to paint, but unfortunately never had the talent to 🙂 As a kid, though, I ALWAYS loved doing anything that required my hands; helping mom paint the house, arts and crafts, hammer and nails, whatever I could build. I actually almost cut off one of my fingers trying to build a cardboard “phone booth” at day care once. 🙂

PEV: What was life like for you in college when you were first taking the step towards a career in design?

AW: College was an awakening experience. I went from being an A honor student in high school to almost losing all of my scholarships and dropping out. It was also hard to realize that art was probably the hardest degree one can ever get because it’s so subjective. What one teacher loves, another may hate so I had to deal with learning different styles of art in order to stay alive, so to speak, and I almost stopped trying. But by the last semester of my Sophomore year I think is when I finally woke up and realized that college was serious and I needed to be serious about it to survive afterwards. I really owe the rest of my college experience to my mentor, David Bieloh, who took the time to make me try, and if it wasn’t for him I probably would never be the designer or the graduate I am today.

PEV: Having started your own firm, Lost Spots Design, in May of 2006, what has been your biggest challenge so far?

AW: Having the time to actually spend on my business. When you have a million other things going on in life, its so easy to forget about your small business, even though that�s what I really want to do in life. Now that things are finally calming down for me, I’m planning on spending a lot of my free time marketing and just getting out to network, because I’ve been told by many that�s the most important aspect of running a design business.

PEV: Starting a business at such a young age (22 currently) can be somewhat daunting on a career. Do you find age to be a plus or minus in helping you spread your name?

AW: I find it both, depending on the situation. Some clients love the idea that I’m so young, because they know I have a fresh take on design and I keep up with current trends (and programming for the web stuff) Other clients have not been so easy, and some tend to not want to listen to my input because they think since they’re older they know better, even though they hired me to do this job. So sometimes I just have to suck it up and try to work the best I can with each type of client.

PEV: What has been your favorite campaign to work on?

AW: The Saucy Sisters campaign has been my favorite. They are two older ladies that are completely fun to work with and they listen when I tell them what’s better for their audience and what’s not. I’ve done so many projects for them it’s amazing. Now I hear they have a radio show going on, too.

PEV: Between logos, brochures, posters, websites, etc. is there one particular genre of design that tends to be your favorite or strongest?

AW: Websites are my favorite to do, although they are actually my most frustrating projects to work on because you really have to keep up with the programming, and you actually don’t see very many programmers/designers in one person. I can understand that a lot because both sides have so much going on. In the print world, I love posters and band projects and would actually like to move into the music world and do exclusive posters and CD designs.

PEV: When you sit down to design, what kind of atmosphere do you surround yourself in?

AW: It really depends. Normally I’m by myself but I absolutely HATE silence. I always have to have some kind of music to listen to, it helps me get creative and in the zone. Right now I’m either working at the office at my full-time job, or out of my armoire because I lost my office after the divorce. Someday I would like to buy one of those double buildings in downtown Nashville with an apartment on top and business on bottom, and have my own studio down there, while living upstairs. I’d also like to get a new Mac Book Pro and work in Starbucks. I’ve always wanted to do that.

PEV: What kind of music are you currently listening to?

AW: I’m totally a rock lover, lately I’ve been into 80’s hair bands such as Guns N Roses and Skid Row, but my favorites are also My Chemical Romance and A Perfect Circle. My new favorite is a Canadian band called Billy Talent.

PEV: In your opinion, which company (international or US) has the best brand identity?

AW: Apple of course. No matter where you are in the world anyone can recognize an iPod, even in the poorest of countries. Sometimes I wish I could move to California and work at Apple, but the cost of living is way too much for me! I love their entire identity, all the way down to their package designs. It all coincides, is completely simple, recognizable and just plain beautiful design.

PEV: Have you ever dealt with a client that you wish you could fire?

AW: Oh yes, I’ve had a few. My worst was a web design client who had five people in the company, and each of them told me something completely different every day! They also kept calling at 11 at night and making completely ridiculous claims, but I tried my hardest to please them, hoping to get some referrals. I must have changed the pictures and background colors at least a hundred times. The site was already live, though incomplete, and I received a check from them for the remaining balance and then they just dropped off the face of the earth! I emailed them a few times and finally found out that they went with this (horrible) place in Nashville and never thought to tell me that they “fired” me.

PEV: Ten years from now, where do you see yourself and Lost Spots Design?

AW: Hopefully in one of those two story buildings I mentioned above, and making enough money to support myself and a nice client base. I really would like to work with some rock bands, and the rock scene in Nashville is really growing, so now is the perfect time to get started I think!

PEV: What is the story behind the name Lost Spots Design?

AW: It means a couple of things actually. It was originally referring to four the CMYK dots that a printer mixes to make all of the colors of the rainbow. I had a printer that ran out of cyan and the print was less than beautiful looking, and a friend made a joke about the print’s Lost Cyan Spots so I just thought it was a neat phrase. It was also around the time I really started to get into photo editing and I enjoyed removing cheetah and lady bug spots during class. I really did goof off so much during school, you shouldn’t do that!

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your design career?

AW: Most of my friends are actually designers and programmers themselves, so it was great to be able to vent and ask them for advice. My family was actually really receptive to the graphic design career, since my Aunt is really successful, however my Dad is very supportive of the business, but my mother insists that I stay at a full-time “career”.

PEV: What kind of advice can you offer someone who is thinking about pursuing their own business in graphic design?

AW: Make sure you spend plenty of time marketing, but don’t spend a lot of money. I wasted a lot of money on a postcard mailer once that didn’t even bring in one lead. Go out to business meetings and luncheons, join the Chamber of Commerce, and the most important thing is YES you HAVE to have a portfolio on the web. People who say otherwise are unfortunately stuck in the 90’s because the web is where most of my clients find me.

PEV: In one word, describe Lost Spots Design?

AW: Fresh.

PEV: When you are not working, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

AW: I’m trying to learn to play the guitar but haven’t had much time to spend on that, although I ended up buying that pretty Slash model Epiphone. I’m a huge movie buff, and since I graduated I’ve made a bunch of new friends so I’ve actually haven’t been home very much. I also started a “Life after Divorce” scrapbook and intend on filling it up with lots of fun things.

PEV: How have you developed as an artist from “day one”?

AW: Well I went from all hand drawings to basically all computer work, except for preliminary sketches. I would say that I’ve grown to a more “mature” clean design, I like lots of white space and one of my friends is starting to push into the whole Web 2.0 look with gradients and reflections, although I still think simple is more effective.

PEV: If you could travel the world, which one city would stay the longest?

AW: Italy. Roman architecture and art has ALWAYS been my favorite, plus I have a little Italian in me, so it’s partly home.

PEV: So, what is next for Amber Weinberg and Lost Spots Design?

AW: My plan for this year is to start spending more time marketing. I just updated my portfolio and my website is now fully done in CSS and PHP (which is important for web people) But now I need to take my own advice and start going “out there” and finding my clients, instead of just hoping they’ll find me.

For more information on Amber Weinberg and Lost Spots Design, check out www.LostSpots.com.

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2 Comments

  1. Diane T. Creston said,

    KUDOS Amber!! Looks great.

    Best regards,
    Diane

  2. Jenn Siler said,

    You really inspire me! I went to school for Graphic Design, I have a certificate in it right now. I am going back to school for a Bachelors in Fine Arts. Good luck with your business!

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