Since we launched a little over 6 months ago, we have been hard at work behind the scenes cooking up some exciting things for you all. In the process, we have been fortunate enough to work with some amazing people who have really helped bring our ideas to life. One of these individuals is this guy right here. Caleb Alba is an Art Director for the Integer Group in Dallas, TX. He is also the youngest Art Director in his office, and one of the hardest working guys we know. We also happen to be friends with Caleb, which really works in our favor because he truly has an eye for fresh content that is also top quality. After working with Caleb over the past couple of months, we knew we HAD to feature Him on our blog. Caleb shares how he gets inspired for new projects, ensures his work is quality, and what it means to succeed within his work.
We hope you enjoy! To see more of Caleb's work, check out his website here.
WAU: We know you, but tell us about yourself and what you do.
CALEB: I’ve lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth area my entire life, except for 4 years of studying graphic design and marketing at John Brown University in Arkansas. The three first things that come to mind when I think about how I’d describe myself are a dry sense of humor, a love for advertising/branding, and community. I’d like to think people find me hilarious. More than likely though I’m probably just awkward. I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, but ended up pursuing a career in advertising. I’m currently an art director at the Integer Group in Dallas, one of the world’s largest international ad agencies that focuses on shopper marketing and retail. I really love what I do, but at the end of the day it’s people and relationships that give me the most joy. I have huge dreams. I mean massive, reaching for the stars type of dreams. But those dreams mean nothing if I don’t have friends and family to share them with.
WAU: Throughout life and your college career, how did you identify that this is what you wanted to do?
CALEB: I’ve always loved art - from drawing on the walls as a child, to designing corporate brands in college. I’ve always felt like I could pursue lots of things and be pretty decent at them if I really tried. I chose a career in graphic arts and advertising because it was the one path I had real passion for. I am a design and type nazi. I can’t go anywhere without calling out what font the store name is in, or critiquing a menu at a restaurant. Art has completely taken me captive. It’s a part of my everyday thought life. Whenever one’s talents and passions align with their God-given purpose, choosing your career is as effortless as breathing.
WAU: Where/how do you gain inspiration for a project?
CALEB: Inspiration comes from lots of places. The first thing that I do is look at other people’s work, whether that be scouring Pinterest, August, Instagram, portfolio sites, art magazines, Dribble, etc. For me, inspiration seems to be triggered through research. I can’t just recluse into a cave with a pen and just jot down a long list of brilliant and unique ideas. I have to go search for it. There are so many different channels to find inspiration today. Learning which ones to use for which project or assignment comes with experience and practice brainstorming.
WAU: What are the top things you look for in a project to ensure its top quality?
CALEB: I’ll give two things. First, in my career, my work is always a solution to a problem. The best projects are the one’s that solve the problem the client is requesting in the simplest, and most efficient way possible. Something that I’ve learned over recent years is how important it is to create with purpose and not just for aesthetic. Every part of a project needs to have a reason behind it. Second, projects need to be easy to digest. Whether that’s a logo, a video ad, a promotion, a poster, or whatever, design needs to take a complex idea and simplify it. On average, the younger the generation the younger the attention span. In today’s industry, ads have to be able to communicate their content in the blink of an eye. No one will have the patience to wait for your page to load, or sit around for your commercial, or read your social media post. You have to grab their attention and simultaneously communicate what you’re offering. It’s incredible.
WAU: What do you hope people take away from your work when they see it/what do you count as a win?
CALEB: I always want people to feel cleanliness and intentionality when they see my work. Everything I design has a reason and purpose behind it because I believe that is my fundamental design principle. If I can’t explain why I did something then I need to remove it - only what’s necessary. Ain’t nobody got time for anything else. Most of my book is filled with branding. I’m not trying to evoke some kind of jaw-dropping response. We are so exposed to ads and design every day that it’s rare to get those kinds of responses anymore. Good design is subtle. It doesn’t distract from the content or demand attention. It simplifies a message to be received - not overpower it. So if someone remembers what my design was communicating more than how it was communicated, that's a win.
WAU: You've helped WAU so much with an upcoming design project we are releasing next month. What are you most excited about design-wise with this project?
CALEB: I’m really digging the photography/content combination. As an art director I’m always looking for ways to visually tell a story. The upcoming project incorporates vivid imagery to support the story being communicated in a cohesive way. Respect.
Photography courtesy of Alexa Ray Studio