Mr. Greg Wells

About Me

A graphic designer for 20+ years, both in-house and studio, served as education director for AIGADC.

Member Since January 1999
Member Type Supporter
AIGA Chapter Washington DC
Title Sr Graphic Designer
Company HDR, Inc.
Email moc.sllewgerg@gerg
Field Design/Graphic design
Bio

I've been a communication designer for more than 20 years, both in-house and in studio. I have worked in a wide range of industries as an in-house designer, including architecture (currently), technology firms, consulting, meeting planning, and accounting. I served as Program Coordinator and Education Director for AIGADC.

  • Greg Wells commented on the article "Achieving Work/Life Balance: 10 Things Not to Do"

    Is experiencing five things poorly more valuable than experiencing 2-3 things well?

  • Greg Wells commented on the article "The Ins and Outs of Working In-house"

    I'm not quite sure how to respond to some of this. I know that all of the article (and responses) is true of some jobs, but my own personal experience says that a lot of it isn't really accurate for all in-house jobs. I've had in-house jobs where I could wear jeans, tshirts, and flip-flops. and studio jobs where I couldn't. I've had in-house jobs where I was able to paint my shared office walls funky colors and hang great art on the walls. My current job has me working on changing corporate design standards for a billion dollar company. As an in-house designer, I've had top-of-the-line equipment in every job I've worked in (which hasn't been true in many studios I've worked in). I had dual 20" LCDs before dual 20" LCDs were cool. My point is that it's not all as bad as it seems to come across in the article/comments. I think Brian Mays got it right in that often designers are part of the problem. The industry-wide derision for in-house design has people looking for all of the negatives and ignoring many of the positives. There's a serious stigma attached to doing in-house design. We have to learn to stop making in-house design an "us vs them" proposition. We have to learn to breach that wall by becoming advocates for design as a method of reaching corporate goals, to understand the business and how our designs can help the company be more successful. Johanna did touch on some of the positives (like real involvement with the client), but the snark in the negatives really overwhelmed those positives. I've come to appreciate being a true design consultant and being part of the process. I understand my company's business and am able to advocate design as part of the company's philosophy (as opposed to "make it pretty"). That's not to say I don't see the negatives in in-house work (PowerPoint presentations (bad ones), never being able to fire a bad client, higher concentration of "drudge work," and yes, being viewed sometimes as a "support" position instead of a professional). But all jobs have negatives. Any job is only what you make of it. If you turn it into an "us vs them" mentality as opposed to "look, we're all on the same team" mentality, you're dooming yourself to a bad experience. It may take time, one of the downsides to the corporate world is it often changes a little more slowly, but there's reward in educating an internal client just like there is in educating an external client. And truly advocating for design can mean becoming an important part of the corporate team and decision-making process. They're not going to hand that to us, we have to step up and prove our worth to get it. It can be disheartening to come to this section of the AIGA site and find such raw negativity. There *are* lots of crappy jobs out there. The stereotype isn't without merit. But there are also good ones. And there are good designers working in in-house situations. Not all in-house is bad. And some in-house is bad because we designers aren't making it better.

  • Greg Wells commented on the article "Step Outside the Inside? Forget It"

    Andy, thanks for the response. I'm glad to hear that things are turning and AIGA is putting more resources toward the in-house designer. As I said, I think the in-house designer is an area AIGA can actually make inroads into that will provide more capital in return than any other area. Both in membership fees as well as in education. There's a far broader range of skill level in house than there is in studio, thus an untapped area to provide opportunity. And, I suspect, the in house arena is growing far faster than the studio arena, also providing an opportunity for increased membership for AIGA. But only if the organization makes a concerted effort (nationally *and* locally) to reach out to them and then retain them. Especially since their parent companies may be more likely to fork out the dough for membership than studios. You know, deep pockets and all. It's a much more difficult audience to reach, though, i think. If only because it's so diverse.

  • Greg Wells commented on the article "Step Outside the Inside? Forget It"

    Having worked mostly in-house over the past 14 years, I can definitely empathize. I started this career at 30, my 3rd career, and not through traditional means. I learned on the job and went back to school for design later. I had an inferiority complex about in house v studio for years, but I got the opportunity to work in a few studios as a freelancer when I got laid off and realized that I shouldn't have that complex. I'll never be that amazing, world-renowned designer, but I feel a lot better about my skills now. But one thing I did get out of that experience is that I'm a lot more comfortable, overall, working in house. When I was working in design studios, I always felt more pressure to produce in a certain amount of hours. In house, I feel pressure to produce by a deadline. When I was working in studios, all client contact was with the art director and I was implementing their visions or creating based on their interpretations. In house, I work directly with my client and build a working relationship. Not just a working relationship, but often a semi-social one as well. In house I get to learn more about my client and I'm more of a partner with them because I'm immersed in their business. That's not to say I haven't had both good and bad experiences in house, and I've had jobs where the expectations that were set going in weren't met. And I think it's more common for that (from a creative perspective, at least) to happen in house. In house, I've found it isn't uncommon for people to talk a much bigger game about creative freedom in the interview stage than they can deliver on the job. I say that with an understanding that all jobs have grunt work, and in house jobs have more grunt work than in studio jobs. I'm lucky to have ended up somewhere now that values creativity and, for the most part, has encouraged me to explore more creative ways to communicate. I would say one of my biggest frustrations with AIGA is not seeing enough support for in house designers. This section is a nice start, but having gone to two AIGA conferences, I see a disconnect regarding their in house constituency. In Denver, there were a couple of presentations on in house design, and I enjoyed them. But both focused on companies who have strong support for creativity and/or an award-winning level of design (Starbucks and Jazz at Lincoln Center). But no focus on how an in house designer in a more "traditional" corporate structure could get buy in from management to improve the creative direction of the firm. Or how to teach management about the value of design. Or how to show ROI for improved design. Or how to improve the creative environment. These things are all easier to do when you have a company that's built around creativity already, but much more difficult to do, say, at an association or a mortgage banking firm or an IT consulting firm. And I dare say there are a lot more in house designers in those types of environments than there are in environments similar to Starbucks. I sat with a number of those designers in Denver after attending those two sessions and most of us felt that, while we did get some information from the sessions, they were addressing environments that were foreign to us on some levels. AIGA would like to increase its numbers and I think they could go a long way toward that goal by spending some effort courting the in house designer more by offering content here, and in local and national events. And by better understanding better the types of work environments these designers work in and tailoring more events to match up to the types of environments in which their in house members work.

  • Greg Wells commented on the article "Achieving Work/Life Balance: 10 Things Not to Do"

    Is experiencing five things poorly more valuable than experiencing 2-3 things well?

  • Greg Wells commented on the article "The Ins and Outs of Working In-house"

    I'm not quite sure how to respond to some of this. I know that all of the article (and responses) is true of some jobs, but my own personal experience says that a lot of it isn't really accurate for all in-house jobs. I've had in-house jobs where I could wear jeans, tshirts, and flip-flops. and studio jobs where I couldn't. I've had in-house jobs where I was able to paint my shared office walls funky colors and hang great art on the walls. My current job has me working on changing corporate design standards for a billion dollar company. As an in-house designer, I've had top-of-the-line equipment in every job I've worked in (which hasn't been true in many studios I've worked in). I had dual 20" LCDs before dual 20" LCDs were cool. My point is that it's not all as bad as it seems to come across in the article/comments. I think Brian Mays got it right in that often designers are part of the problem. The industry-wide derision for in-house design has people looking for all of the negatives and ignoring many of the positives. There's a serious stigma attached to doing in-house design. We have to learn to stop making in-house design an "us vs them" proposition. We have to learn to breach that wall by becoming advocates for design as a method of reaching corporate goals, to understand the business and how our designs can help the company be more successful. Johanna did touch on some of the positives (like real involvement with the client), but the snark in the negatives really overwhelmed those positives. I've come to appreciate being a true design consultant and being part of the process. I understand my company's business and am able to advocate design as part of the company's philosophy (as opposed to "make it pretty"). That's not to say I don't see the negatives in in-house work (PowerPoint presentations (bad ones), never being able to fire a bad client, higher concentration of "drudge work," and yes, being viewed sometimes as a "support" position instead of a professional). But all jobs have negatives. Any job is only what you make of it. If you turn it into an "us vs them" mentality as opposed to "look, we're all on the same team" mentality, you're dooming yourself to a bad experience. It may take time, one of the downsides to the corporate world is it often changes a little more slowly, but there's reward in educating an internal client just like there is in educating an external client. And truly advocating for design can mean becoming an important part of the corporate team and decision-making process. They're not going to hand that to us, we have to step up and prove our worth to get it. It can be disheartening to come to this section of the AIGA site and find such raw negativity. There *are* lots of crappy jobs out there. The stereotype isn't without merit. But there are also good ones. And there are good designers working in in-house situations. Not all in-house is bad. And some in-house is bad because we designers aren't making it better.

  • Greg Wells commented on the article "Step Outside the Inside? Forget It"

    Andy, thanks for the response. I'm glad to hear that things are turning and AIGA is putting more resources toward the in-house designer. As I said, I think the in-house designer is an area AIGA can actually make inroads into that will provide more capital in return than any other area. Both in membership fees as well as in education. There's a far broader range of skill level in house than there is in studio, thus an untapped area to provide opportunity. And, I suspect, the in house arena is growing far faster than the studio arena, also providing an opportunity for increased membership for AIGA. But only if the organization makes a concerted effort (nationally *and* locally) to reach out to them and then retain them. Especially since their parent companies may be more likely to fork out the dough for membership than studios. You know, deep pockets and all. It's a much more difficult audience to reach, though, i think. If only because it's so diverse.

  • Greg Wells commented on the article "Step Outside the Inside? Forget It"

    Having worked mostly in-house over the past 14 years, I can definitely empathize. I started this career at 30, my 3rd career, and not through traditional means. I learned on the job and went back to school for design later. I had an inferiority complex about in house v studio for years, but I got the opportunity to work in a few studios as a freelancer when I got laid off and realized that I shouldn't have that complex. I'll never be that amazing, world-renowned designer, but I feel a lot better about my skills now. But one thing I did get out of that experience is that I'm a lot more comfortable, overall, working in house. When I was working in design studios, I always felt more pressure to produce in a certain amount of hours. In house, I feel pressure to produce by a deadline. When I was working in studios, all client contact was with the art director and I was implementing their visions or creating based on their interpretations. In house, I work directly with my client and build a working relationship. Not just a working relationship, but often a semi-social one as well. In house I get to learn more about my client and I'm more of a partner with them because I'm immersed in their business. That's not to say I haven't had both good and bad experiences in house, and I've had jobs where the expectations that were set going in weren't met. And I think it's more common for that (from a creative perspective, at least) to happen in house. In house, I've found it isn't uncommon for people to talk a much bigger game about creative freedom in the interview stage than they can deliver on the job. I say that with an understanding that all jobs have grunt work, and in house jobs have more grunt work than in studio jobs. I'm lucky to have ended up somewhere now that values creativity and, for the most part, has encouraged me to explore more creative ways to communicate. I would say one of my biggest frustrations with AIGA is not seeing enough support for in house designers. This section is a nice start, but having gone to two AIGA conferences, I see a disconnect regarding their in house constituency. In Denver, there were a couple of presentations on in house design, and I enjoyed them. But both focused on companies who have strong support for creativity and/or an award-winning level of design (Starbucks and Jazz at Lincoln Center). But no focus on how an in house designer in a more "traditional" corporate structure could get buy in from management to improve the creative direction of the firm. Or how to teach management about the value of design. Or how to show ROI for improved design. Or how to improve the creative environment. These things are all easier to do when you have a company that's built around creativity already, but much more difficult to do, say, at an association or a mortgage banking firm or an IT consulting firm. And I dare say there are a lot more in house designers in those types of environments than there are in environments similar to Starbucks. I sat with a number of those designers in Denver after attending those two sessions and most of us felt that, while we did get some information from the sessions, they were addressing environments that were foreign to us on some levels. AIGA would like to increase its numbers and I think they could go a long way toward that goal by spending some effort courting the in house designer more by offering content here, and in local and national events. And by better understanding better the types of work environments these designers work in and tailoring more events to match up to the types of environments in which their in house members work.

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