Jan. 20, 2022

Find Your Flow in Packaging Design with Gene Portnoy | Ep 77

Find Your Flow in Packaging Design with Gene Portnoy | Ep 77

Learn how finding your flow in the package design process allows you to deliver the value to your client. Gene Portnoy is a prolific packaging designer with years of experience, much of which never requiring a portfolio. 

In this episode we discuss how he built an award winning portfolio in less than 2 years by pushing himself beyond his comfort zone.

3 things you’ll get from this episode:

1) How sharing the work you design for fun can create unexpected new opportunities. Pick up new clients, and even sell those designs. Gene tells the story of how he sold an entire brand and packaging design he did for fun to a brand and how that’s grown into more opportunities to do the same again.

2) how to be the designer you want to be. There’s many types of designers, many styles, and just as many niches. You don’t have to fit into anyone of them. You can choose to work on your own terms and build the portfolio you want to represent you.

3) Allow yourself to get lost in the work.

Take that extra time to explore and play, you never know what gold you’ll find when you push the design further and beyond your own comfort zones.

Links from the show:

Gene Portnoy on LinkedIn
Work and Company

Evelio Mattos on LinkedIn
Package Design Unboxd on LinkedIn

IDP Direct - Factory Direct Packaging

Diecut Templates - Packaging Dielines

Specright - Packaging Specifications Management

Support the Show:

Pick up some PDU gear


We're recording. We're ready to go. What's your 32nd introduction, Jean. 

Hi, I'm Jean or, and, uh, I'm a designer doing package and brand design for two years. Uh, primarily in mass market and working with big brands. Most of my career has been freelance except for a few full-time jobs. I had taken an interest in projects though.

Yeah them. 

So are you a packaging 

designer? I think that's my, what people would consider my specialty. I consider branding overall. Currently I started working with a lot of, a lot more smaller brands along with studios that I still do work for, but I've been trying to find my own clients and, you know, they need a lot more parts pieces to the puzzles.

Yeah, doing looks and feels web design, web design, brochures booklets, along with packaging. Obviously, when I first started in design, um, after graduating from a portfolio center, I, um, was specializing specifically incorporate them in somehow. Doing packaging became a passion, 

your website, a working company.

It's got two sections. There's more sections where there's two sections you've got play. And then you've got work. Work is obviously the work that you've done for clients. And then there's play, which is patching. You've done for yourself. Why is your work section password protected? 

The work that I've done for clients has been for other design firms.

You know, technically they're their clients specifically, I do end up signing a non-compete clauses and you know, those contracts can get pretty interesting. Uh, and I prefer not to deal with lawyers. And also I kind of just give respect for the company, bringing in their own business. I mean, you know, at the same time, you know, they hire me.

The design firm is my client. The project is my client. Ultimately at this point, 50% of my business is still working with the big design firms out there. And, um, you know, I just want to give them the respect that they deserve, if they want me to allow me to share, I share when I can. Um, I'm trying to share my plate stuff more, you know, because you know, I've got 20 plus years of experience, you know, my own personal concepts, whether they're real or not, shouldn't be.

Yeah, it shouldn't be an issue. That's the way I approached them. That should be important. And some of the work in the place section was actually now real because there are companies that are occasionally end up buying some of those interesting, interesting processes. 

That's awesome. And so like looking at your work section, cause I think a lot of designers out there.

Myself included. Right? You signed NDAs. You've got all of this paperwork everywhere and you're kind of like, I don't want to share it because I don't want to get into trouble. Um, plus you also want to respect the client. Are they afraid of. That you're going to start getting work because of it, or does it dilute their brand?

think it's two prong. I think, you know, the brands that I work on are massive and they have the design firms themselves have clauses with certain clients, uh, say, you know, Pepsi brands. I know definitely, uh, No, they don't like sharing work. He likes to share their own work because they ended up taking a lot of that stuff in house and doing adjustments and edits along the way.

That's respectful. I mean, I think. It's easier. Just not to think about I haven't had COVID I've had, had to share my work with anybody for a long time. The packaging design industry is so small compared to other industries that, um, you know, you kind of ended up knowing people from all over the country and working together.

Cause I've worked in Cincinnati. I've worked Chicago. Uh, New York. I lived in society two times for projects out there. Like why you even get it? You know, there's enough work to go around. 

I was think it's interesting because sometimes you, young designers will be. We'll get upset at this at the NDA. They don't understand how, how it 


Yeah. I think it's depends also what level you're at. Right. Because you know, as much as I would love to share some of those projects, cause all of them are really, but they're part of a huge team of, it's not just me working on them. This allows. You know, then trying to figure out, well, who's going to get upset by you showing it and having those conversations.

I have designers thinking about those portfolio pieces, for sure. Um, I, I choose not to show it, um, on a line publicly. Um, if somebody asks for my portfolio in my history, Um, that's usually specifically designed firms that would ask for something like that. Then I, you know, I give them the password and I share that with that.

Okay. Now I give everybody the credit they deserve. So sometimes if there are there's maybe one or two projects in my portfolio that I specifically just direct. I will talk about that project who specifically designed it as opposed to who directed it, as opposed to me saying that's my piece of work. So I'm, I'm extremely transparent just 

in keeping with this transparency.

I've heard designers that will charge differently for work that they can't. Versus work that they can. I've 

never heard of that before. That's an interesting, you know, I try, I try to keep my rate, um, relatively on par with other freelancers that are out there, uh, because I like to keep as busy as possible.

There are designers that I talk to about rates and stuff, and, you know, they feel more comfortable having higher rates and working less. I try to keep mine in the middle. So as. Also because I just liked to work. It's not even about the money for me because the money comes, you know, it's an hourly rate or day rate that you end up doing that for companies.

So I don't think it's that, it's that point where when you become a designer that your level of speed and the way you approach a project, Um, kind of lowers the amount of money that you make them kind of start averaging that out a little bit, but I wouldn't have been charged extra for not being able to share.

I would just ask before. 

So how do you price your work when you're working with agencies? Is it based on an hourly, like you just said, you know, obviously the more experience you have, the faster you work, so that kind of. 

Yeah, sorry. No, no, no. I prefer doing hourly the old school. Right. When I jumped on a project, I a hundred percent concentrated on that.

I don't double book. I don't do two hours here, three hours there. So like that typically do an eight hour minimum, uh, was a 24 hour cancellation at this point. Uh, that way, if I'm booked on the bay, that there's a cancellation, even though I, you know, even though I have to sit there. Right. That's really not, has doesn't have anything to do with me.

It's typically based on the scheduling, we're parking meets the whole night hours, so I can work on those projects. So it seems to work out the best. Um, you know, a lot of companies are trying to get two hours, three hours. I don't think it works that well. The creative process never really functions.

You'll just flip a switch, you know, it's all like, okay, two hours right here. I start. And then I'm done. 

And also, I was like, if they, you know, they ask some, you know, somebody like me or other designers that I know like, oh, we just want two options or three options,

you know, I'm just trying to figure out the truth of it. She's like, kind of like my approach is like, I try to give up, you know, to a certain degree. I'd like to be able to be the designer that can put together the whole entire presentation are there, you know, whether it's for my client, Yeah, I can't do everything obviously, but I'd like to do the full exploratory.

Um, so yeah, minimum eight hours, uh, hourly rate recently been on booked for three months, rebranding project. It's a big company and that was great. And I sometimes lower my rates for something like that, because it's more consistent on par with everybody 

else. Yeah. It's funny. Cause like you've mentioned wanting to do all that.

Yeah. I mean, I've had, I've had projects where, you know, you know, I'm hired on just to do structure. So all I do is like structural design and concept development and you start coming up with a structural concept and you're like, man, you know, it would be awesome. If they applied, like this type of image on this panel, you know, it starts catching it in there and you're like, oh, you know, your logo could be, you know, like this is where I would see it first.

And here's what I would see second. And you start going down that road and yeah, it takes a little bit more time. You're delivering like a 360 degree view of your idea. 

Um, it definitely, I mean, you definitely get the client's side. I feel like the clients that I work with definitely get their money for sure.

Um, because on top of. Yeah, just even after I came, I graduated from school, which was years ago. I always kind of looked at design as you have to kind of do everything that your creative director, your clients asks. Right. And then I would always put in the extra hours for myself that if I wasn't given those hours to work on, I'm going to pursue and trying to figure out, you know, the craft of it because of the craft of the, I want to be able to figure it out on my own.

So. No. I woke up today at 4 35 o'clock in the morning for one reason, you know, w w we were having this interview, but also because, you know, I just had some ideas that I needed to get them charge the client, probably I should, but ultimately, you know, I just wanted to do, uh, you know, a broader, you know, kind of look at the designs to them, more color options, possibly.

Well, maybe things that they haven't asked for. I just wanted to give them those options that, you know, comes with experience as well. I've been telling younger designers to do this thing. 

All right. So, so let's say, uh, you were at the end of your hours yesterday, but you woke up this morning and you wanted to explore maybe a new logo and you spend, you know, five hours knocking out a new logo gratis, and then they use that logo.

I know it's wrong. What happened?

I care more about the work than I do about what every, you know, what people think. 

I, I love, I love that. So that leads me to spec work. What's your thought on spec work? 

Isn't that? Isn't 

that? What's the difference 

there? Well, um, if a client hires me for a certain amount of hours, And I feel like I haven't figured out the solution framework.

I feel like I still, where I just pull myself something to deliver to the, to the level that I've set for myself. Now, you know, if it's less than hours, I'm still charging, right. Because my minimum is eight hours bed. So it should work the other way around. Right. Suppose somebody books me for eight hours and I did a project in three hours.

Right. Well for a day and I did a project, I still trapped the sh I still charged them for eight hours, a minimum, extra hours night before I jump into something like that, I do end up asking them if they don't have them, for me, I'm giving away the secret, but I probably will not always, not always, but occasionally when I feel like I haven't dive deep enough into the brain.

Okay. It's a personal thing.

I don't know. I think everybody kind of has like this mindset of like, this is the way it's supposed to be when you get down to it and you get, and you get into the work, there's no stopping, you know, there's no, oh, you know, it's not like the Flintstones, right. Or he checks out and he like slides on the brightest sores and he's out.

It's like, no, you're, you're in the groove. And it feels so good to be in that group. Oh, I guess such a high, 

we don't want to get out. Um, you know, uh, my family always like my parents know the call me,

I'm the zone. I'm probably not going to be the person to have a conversation, which is which I want them to have a little bit of a buffer before I spoke. I just get focused. You get hyper-focused and you get into. Um, the other thing is like, if I'm not working, I'm also not the nicest person I get. All my endorphins are coming from, which is one of the reasons I started doing my personal projects.

I didn't even have an online portfolio. And so COVID, 

yeah, we definitely want to talk about your place extra, because then they'll say this place X on your site, which is the work is amazing. And honestly, haven't looked at the play section and the work section. I almost feel like the play section is better.

Right. Which is weird because you're getting paid for the work section, but there's a difference between play and work. 

Here's the thing. Um, the work section has a lot of hands-on has a lot of, um, there's a lot of money, right? So there's, decision-makers that go all the way up to the top at some point, depending on the company and, uh, No, they have to worry about eye tracking and finding in cost and prices and colors and how people react.

You know, my place section is just based on my experience of, you know, for the past 20 years, I approached those projects from that mindset, but I did not put anywhere close to the time I put in to the real, the real projects sections that, I mean, Uh, one of the last ones I did was called Shirkers beer. So a lot of these brands that I came up from my own path, but just give me a jumping point.

So shuckers beer literally was the bakery that was around the corner from where I currently live my best friend's family owned it. I worked there as a kid and, um, this, uh, me launch course, which was. Signed up with me to possibly pitch new business or start with startups. He's the nephew of the owner of that company.

So, you know, all of those brands are very close to home. I can stop all of them. My son has, uh, uh, milk buy cereal, cause he's a serial killer. I just, I just designed it basically based on him. Every one of them, there's a connection to somebody or something. Uh, from my past, it was almost like a biography and autobiography without their, from packaging.

I know it's insane. 

The work is amazing and it spans so many different styles. So talk to me about style and your 

process. So stylistically, I don't come out to the design industry with any. Uh, background at all. I w when I first started school, I was going to school for physical therapy and, and it was a community college in Brooklyn called Greensboro.

And in the lunch room, we would meet up and we'll be a bunch of friends and nightclubs. And I started, my dad had a program called CorelDRAW back and, um, you know, somebody needed a pass for a design firm or a business card as a promo. And I started doing my own t-shirt on, uh, that was sewing all over the city and they're like $45 a share.

And then I ended up selling that company once I realized every business. And, uh, what's a fight. Uh, at night while I was freelancing during the day, because nobody knew the computer back then. So luckily I had already knew back then it was even Adobe illustrator. It was like, you know, I knew how to do pay stuff as well.

Cause my cousin was in the print production business at that time. So I kind of was kind of well-rounded but without any design school backing know, so I was going to have fights you and working at the same time. But it's painless degree. I just went to the library every day. Definitely has the most amazing artists of library, three fashion to design to everything else.

And I would just sit there while before the classroom in between classes, I'm just rifle through Paul Rand books and, you know, Stephan guys, they're like all these, like, you know, designers that kind of instruments in every project I worked on, I was kind of fixated on trying to emulate. Um, so I kind of became like a designer.

I feel like almost like Bruce Lee said one time fight with not like a style without style. So I'm kind of always just approach things from a consumer's perspective. What's the right answer. What's the trick, the brand, you know, I'm on basically more of a  of that. Yeah. That's figuring out the right colors and it's relatively after doing it for 20 plus years.

It's like, it's always still be simple. It's just, you know, the design process itself is just like computers at school. It's the thinking behind, um, the experience that makes it pictures to that extra mile. So, 

yeah, I mean, if I just scroll through quickly the play section, I mean the one thing that does stand out.

Is the color. Yeah. I mean, you do amazing work with color, but then second to the color is the typography. What, tell me about this type. Cause it's not, you know, I mean, pretty much everything here has been either, uh, is either hand type or custom. 

Uh, customer find out on shuttered. It's been hands-on they customize it to that next level.

Sometimes I do my own hand jobs, uh, but you know, I've designed fonts before for fun. Um, But there's a story. One of the things I really wanted to work on was doing type that was out of my comfort zone. I was more traditional kind of Swiss. You look at my work, that's been produced. It's a little bit more simpler and there's a lot cleaner elements because there's a clarity for big brands that you need, um, on shelf.

But I took the opportunity of a lot of these projects for how do I get out of my comfort zone? I'm not an illustrator. How do I get more illustration work with more illustrations instead of photography? Because more of the work that I have been doing is touching photo editing and blink, cut up power stuff.

I'm working with illustrations because you have to start learning the vernacular to be able to work with illustrators because especially illustrators, unless you can give them exactly what you want. You will never get the results that you're looking for. 

Yeah. It's not like the old days where you would look through the gigantic workbook and flag all the illustrators that you wanted to work with and pick up.

Yeah. It's a little bit 

differently. Those books are not even exist. I used to have photographers in them. You'd think it would be easier now it's more difficult because there's so many more illustrators because everybody's an illustrator. If you go on. And it opens you up to the world. Now, do you want to like work with somebody that doesn't speak English because the translation programs, they don't translate very well, so 

they don't treat, they don't translate nuance 

and nuance.

Um, one of the things I wanted to do was, um, when I give something to an illustrator, but at time I hand it over just like when I hand over a photography styles, style books or style sheets, you know, the, the language that I'm looking at. And so I ended up working with a handful of illustrators that I've worked for throughout the years.

They have a wide range of styles and then find somebody specific if I can't get them to two, but by the time I hand over a project, they know exactly. So I'm not asking them to copy the creative process. Uh, to come out from them as well. But yeah, I feel like at this point it's more about learning how to direct more than it is about learning about the song, because I feel like I've done that for a long time.

When I put in my thousand hours, I probably think.

Especially the last 

few years. Yeah. I mean the amount of work that's come out in the last couple of years for me is insane, but it's funny. Cause like, again, looking at the work and then looking at the play section startup brands, right. That are reaching out to packaging designers. Like they browse through like Pinterest and be ants and they see all this beautiful packaging.

Right. They see all this amazing work. I don't know. It's like they draw inspiration from that and they come to you and like, this is what I want, but is packing really about beauty or is it about sales? 

I think it's about connections. The beauty, the sales, the sales will come ultimately from repetition and learning that you have on shelf.

That's why a lot of times the package will come up. And then it will be adjusted and cause they'll get some learning as testing only takes you so far. There's those people are asking very specific questions, usually not the right questions out, but they do get you to a certain point. I tracking, you know, Procter and gamble.

I know does a lot of. Um, and sort of skin. I know it was like Kimberly Clark had like studios where you can go through like walk through a virtual room, like supermarket and they'll timing. How long it's. To get your package and what you're looking for, they get bounced the numbers, those numbers. This is like you get these designs, but make this bigger, make this smaller, like, is that, um, ultimately it's the brand connection that, you know, the truth in the breath.

If you can find that and get that connection with. Then you've got, uh, a brand that gives you the numbers because you know, it matches their style and matches their personality matches their kids' personal, depending on, you know, how they're feeling emotionally at that time, what their needs are, you know, getting tired and all these big between buying time out for a headache medicine we're expecting.

You know, at this point, it's just Steve, except for might have

emotional connections that people, I suppose. And they bought them based on. All 

right. So you've mentioned this a couple of times. When you talk about the truth in the brand, what in layman's terms, what is this truth that we're after? 

I think that a lot of designers probably do it the same way. I just put that word.

I associate that word as part of my process. And I think, you know, as you go, when we started this conversation, when we talk about doing three options, sometimes just doesn't mean. Because there's learning that you have, and that learning is sometimes that shapes as you start progressing and start figuring out this brand, well, there's the colors that you're doing or the different fonts that you're using when the photography or that connection, if there's a photograph of a person or a bog and how that Bob was looking at you, I'm looking at steps, you know, looking at you like being needy, as opposed to being hungry.

There's all these different connections that people associate. When they're looking at a pack on shelf, um, and those truths add up, right? So when you can get all those kinds of truths, kind of connected together, Dan, I think you have like a view-only beautiful package. And then the craft comes in. I need to try to figure out how to style it, to make it look presentable and beautiful and smart, whether it's, you know, and then depending on what price it is, then you kind of design it to be more upscale or downscale.

You know, there's a lot of products in a box it's just a different brand. Especially with all my thoughts. There's something like maybe five manufacturers in America that make actually the restaurant, you know, China, um, you know, that's pretty wild, right? That's where you realize that the brand is how important Brandon is, how important your consumer based and what they're thinking and what your lifestyle.

All right. So somebody listening out there, right. They're starting up a new brand. They reach out to you, you know, they call you say, Hey, I'm launching a new hard cider. Cause everybody's launching some kind of hard something. Yeah. It's direct to consumer. They're launching it in 10 months. So like October and then after that, their goal is going to be to go to retail.

And of course, they're going to mention that they're VC backed and ready to hit the ground running with you. What's the process like what's your first question? 

Um, well, first.

32nd, three minutes. Cause they've worked hard on them. Right? So that's what we're, that's what we're thinking. And then, um, then I have a normal conversation with them. Like where are you guys really come from? What, what leads you? It's a startup, especially their social, emotional connections, their stories, whether they're talking about it or not.

We want to get that story because that helps you to a certain, it gets to that song that. Um, I recently, uh, this leak bit talked to a startup, but they don't have, they don't have any money, you know, they're, they're just about to like kit fiber and I was connected with them and I'm just offered to do almost anything.

To help them off. It's a fixture logo that they currently have. So it helped them sit in on our reviews that they do on the pirates. Somebody else, maybe I'm not right. Even if I don't take the project or if they don't give it to me at the price, I kind of said right. Do it because it might just be a weekend project for me, the PAC motor passion project.

But I, you know, there's just like are three, three or four partners that are cyclists and they're coming out of a coffee product coffee from Columbia in this. First of all, I would love to zoom out, you know, work on a coffee pot and coffee brand. And these guys, you know, they're cyclists, they're trying to do a movement.

10% of their earnings is going to go towards getting, you know, people moving again, going, getting out slime, maybe getting bikes for kids. Who's starting up some sort of programs. We don't have a lot of followers yet. I just got emotional, just sitting there talking to them. And, um, I hope, I hope that they end up this time.

So let me. Even if it's not needs doing the design, just studying and doing reviews of the other designers, I definitely can make a project better by it. I feel like giving critiques and helping them give directions to their designers because they don't know check. 

I've had a few different agencies on the podcast where they're taking a portion of the brand.

Right. So they're taking a percentage ownership. 

Yeah. That's a hard, right? So as you're starting out, like, what is that real? You know what I mean? I'm open to other possibilities. Like they're going to have a store that's helped to them possibly doing merchant on their store, my own merchant on their store as well.

So we're starting to agree. I would still be paying them their percentage and they would be saving that money a possibly for future projects. Right. Well, it's a continuous connection. I don't want to own a piece of them unless they wanted to give me, you know, they're an integral part of our brand that we want to keep this relationship.

Yeah, that's a hundred percent would be up to them. I don't want to take a piece of 

the company that's really cold out and I got it. You know, it's funny. Cause I go to your website, your sense of you, or it comes through man in so many different areas that that's hilarious. 

So my mentor was the professor called  from Nephites and he's artists.

I worked with him, my first class that I cited in math, I'd seen my class was a foundation one. They was hand cutting and doing layouts with hand-tight and just doing the layout was right. Well, let's cut and paste up. That's my cousin was in the class with me and I turned out. I was like, he's going to be like, And that's the, I know I was going to Harlem and working at a studio, this helping him get Oregon going fruit eat.

Once he graduated from the album was taught by, uh, Paul Rand, you know, all the top grades. Right. How would I ever connect to those people? Right. Right. So everybody, I looked, looked up. Gave gave him knowledge and he gave me, and we became, ultimately we became friends. He still teaches graphite speed. Um, you then write a book, as he says, it was called visual puns in design.

And I took that to heart and everything I kind of designed does have a little bit of my sarcasm, a little bit of a sense of humor. Um, maybe not the final pieces for the cause that gets edited out, but the thinking is there. Um, a little bit, you know, humor and lightness is always great. I think people connect to that, especially these days.

Everybody's feels 

typically you hear a lot of comedy has anger behind it. And as I read through your about section, like, I get this like fun. Like I'm going to have a good time working with you, right. Like, and it may not connect with somebody looking at the site. Right. They may think, oh, I'm not looking for a funny designer.

But maybe you don't 

want to work with that person looking for an honest, because I feel like the head that about section is less about being funny and more about if you go on web design firms and they have their, you know, about, and they're like international, worldwide recognized award winning. And I kind of just replay that basically.

Right. But then in between the lines, I wrote the truth, right. Working companies, basically just when I read the word, we, I explained that the word we use, you know, use them in England. Now I feel like these kids are from, you know, so yeah. I, I just kind of just try to be as honest with people as possible. I don't really consider it working with people.

Um, one of the reasons I don't particularly like to leave full-time gigs. I do like longer term commitments because I like diving. It's a big. But taking full-time jobs, you become an important, not a partner, right? Even, uh, when you deal with clients, you're still an employee. You're not the client's department, you're still the companies.

But when I get hired as a freelancer that could become a, or a consultant or what I recently started terming, um, design mercenary, or, you know, and there's a lot of killers, common Diane stuff. I might not be the best. But I definitely feel like I'm very consistent with the work done and I'm definitely open to being, putting up duck Ts, which I don't think I've done it all.

We just explore, you know, explore people, which is what, one of the things about posting work, like play zoom, where I originally started doing posts posting every two weeks. Yeah. I've mentioned. We have like 50 different projects. That's every two weeks I was basically, I'm not scheduled do something new, something new, something creative.

Like the other day I was talking to a designer in front of mine. Who's an illustrator. It's not posted on there, but I posted on LinkedIn on Instagram and I came up with this name for a plant-based product called the gazing. Yeah. Which is an Italian space. And I came and I learned, you know, it's like my friend, uh, you know, can I get away with this?

Where people are going to get upset? Can I call something for gazing or my kind of appropriating culture? He's like, now you're, you can tell me. So I kind of worked, you know, worked up a logo, I'm going into a package concept for it. But I had an like, you know, as I was talking to them, I worked out the concept.

We, we, we had like an hour conversation. I bang so easily and that I was like, you know, Uh, even food that I even a mother would love and they'd be like, forget about it. So the first three letters of some games, 

when does that idea hit? Like, how does like the F for gazy, right? Like, are you. Are you just having lunch and all of a sudden like this, 

oh, first of all, I have a folder of projects, just names and things that I am thinking about some where I want to do something like that.

Or within that one, I'll always have a sketchbook next to me. Um, it might library of images to get about Lucius I'm collecting images. That I will use or mood boarding for clients for stylistic approaches. Because again, I don't know. I don't particularly feel like I have a smile on my face that I want to explore.

Um, you know, like the milk, I'm not by surreal, you know, that's kind of like a, has a Japanese animate type of style. And my son who's 21, right. Yeah, but when he was younger, it was like, you didn't go for like three bucks a week and let's just eat cereal, like three bowls of cereal all day. And I was like, how do I visualize them?

So like, there's a mood board at the end of that, which kind of, there's a picture of him. So if you look at the picture of him and what's amazing truth that I found is that if you watch movies throughout the years, most murderers or serial killers, Somehow or holding a glass of milk in every mood, 


Yeah. That's crazy 

to come up with that. As I started combining these multiple ideas of serial killer and a name pictures of my son, you. Calculating the right proportion. Yeah. He's he's in some mass. There's a part of it where he's calculating the proportions of the serial ratios. Know the best design.

Absolutely. No, but it's 


It's an exploratory. Could you, would you not, could I imagine taking that concept and building it out and growing it? It's just something that's real. No, but that would be a real project that somebody wanted to stay home. Nope. Nope. By serial.com. It's going to go to my website.

I buy some of those names. Yeah, of course. Usually they're available still some in really interested in naming these things 

as well. So as a designer, you've got your work, which you're working with agencies working with brands, and then you've got your play. Your, you know, something hits you, you come up with it or it comes out of your folder, you design it.

But you also mentioned that some brands are actually reaching out to you and buying your design. So can you tell me, is there anything on here that has been 

the good dumpling company, which actually ended up, uh, Willy? Well, it's one of the top 50 package designs of the year on packaging of the world, which made me cry.

Right. And that's free. You put, you know, you send it to them, they decide to post it. And the interaction that people have with it, whether they click like, or if they look at it or if they share it must be shared quite a bit. Um, that's the result of how they count the top 50 in the world in my mind, you know, as far as designers, what other designers think of it?

So they bought them. Good dumpling company. They bought a good three. Many companies was a Russian dumpling company here locally in Brooklyn. They bought the good ravioli company. They're going to do white label as well. And that particular design we're going to work on a finalist, but there's another package design.

It's a bumping band that they hired me to gym, which is, um, homemade dumplings. Uh, You know, and I'm doing a bunch of other brand designer designed their logo for their factory. They install, you know, factories all over the country, food like food productions, factories. Um, that's not up there yet. 

Sure. No, no.

I'm still looking at the good dumpling. So you came up with a good dumpling. So you, how long ago did you come 

up with this? Uh, Probably like a year ago at this point in marching. 

And this was, you were, you know, something out of your folder, something out of your mind, you come up with good dumplings. So you've got this logo.

You got great, um, line work happening here, again, color amazing. And the photography of the dumps. Where did that? Did you, did you shoot that? Do you have,

um, and I just Photoshop prints of these old paintings and ultimately when the client decides to go off, because they can't, they, they realize that that's an upscale market and they want to get into whole foods at some point. And, um, you know, it needs to be worked out and this is. The real way. I don't want to do renderings.

I want Peter to do it. Tography and then over the fence, we'll figure it out. At that point, we did end up designing, um, the documents for the local market or organic rewind, um, which also has illustration in the main concept for good bumping company is going to be the art of the blue. So it's always going to be some sort of different spiral.

Uh, per brand or per products that they ended up coming up. 

And then, so you said that they bought the name. Good dumpling. Do they buy that name from you? 

Yeah. Well, I came up with the name. They said that they were interested in it. Well, the bigger story is that a friend of mine who you actually recently answered.

Yeah, have them approached him. He had been worked at this company for years ago and during the meeting, we realized that, um, I knew the owner of the company from when I was, uh, in my twenties and was fitting their zinc collar. I'm like, I know it was like, So can, I mean, yeah, I know I used to go to his restaurant called Springs and just lost connections when I went away to school or went away to Chicago, Cincinnati, or some state that I was working at some point.

So we have this moment of reconnecting and she was asking us to possibly do a brand for them, a local brand, the heritage brand. And we were going to work on. But I had a, this idea and this wasn't, I don't, I think it's, I just like kind of old jazzed up of doing, you know, I still like design this. I sent it into packaging of the world.

I didn't know how people were gonna respond. Cause it's definitely very different. You know, it's old school, it's modern, it's colors come combined together with, I mean, there's a lot of stuff going on. There's still a lot of stuff that needs to be figured out. Um, and I said, Hey dude, Um, you kind of inspired me to do this brand, um, when he calls me up and he said

that was my, this is my dream to come up with my own brands and possibly sell themselves. 

So, yeah. So like, this is a whole new. Income stream, 

which is crazy. I mean, if anybody's interested in looking at some of this stuff, just something new, but if you want something from there, absolutely listen. I've had a company, a big, big company that I knew was looking at one of the concepts that I had done, and I want to name, column my shirt, but I knew that they were looking at it for like four months on and off because he can see who's looking at that.

And then the product comes out. And it's not the same though. Sometimes it's just me. Right. And I'm, I don't know. It's kind of cool because they, you know, they did end up using the name. They just spelled it a little bit differently, but, uh, I don't know, I'm going to give it away because I'm like, now I'm 

looking through them, seeing like what came out of that similar.

I don't feel bad about. That it would have been great if they called me and asked me to just be part of the process. Of course now, did they take the name or against fire by it? And somebody kind of develops something like me. That's open to interpretation. It's fine. I mean, that's part of the process. I go on Pinterest.

I go on design sites and I get inspired by other people's work. Yeah, 

very specific. You're too. You're too nice. You're too nice. You know?


for sure. I did knock on the door going, Hey, this happened, but let's, you know, next project just pulled me in.

Right? It has. If I was up under a. Yeah, minimum. Just give me a call, give me a few hours, put in some other concepts that could probably do the job. 

Let's kill her man. So I know we're wrapping up here. You got a hard stop here in a couple of minutes. I just want to hit on the dumpling thing. Cause I think, you know, a lot of times designers will create stuff on their own, which is awesome.

Um, a lot of times designers just don't, you know, they don't play enough. Uh, but I like what you did. I think what you did is really important where you. No, you, you came up with us, you were inspired by something, you designed it and then you shared it. I think sharing is critical. You know, you shared it to packaging of the world, people see it, you get feedback.

Um, and then, I mean, amazingly, it, it turned into something much bigger. 

I mean, ultimately that's not what I was thinking that I was doing. Um, I was, I literally started doing this as like how much TV can you possibly write? So I would say like one project a week, I was like, at least I would be learning a new skill.

If I didn't know, I didn't work with certain colors or styles before. Let me try to do something new with this one. But, um, you're opening yourself up to the world at that point. And you have to be comfortable enough to skip the negative. I do get not all of my designs, click with people. I do get people saying, oh, why are you using these fonts fonts?

Because I didn't use, I didn't do that before. I was trying to

take it so seriously, you know, like, um, The design,

I give myself a real deadline of like, I'm not going to work on this more than five hours and with mistakes or no mistakes, I will post that concept. That's awesome. And regret or not regret take it down later, but I will post it and know the consequences and you know, and that happens when you're in a design studio as well.

You put that stuff up on the wall and people, you know, designers are shit talkers. You know, we come from a place where you just like, you just get abused for the fun of it. Right. Right. So you can get back to something like that, right? Because at the end of the student halls everybody's so robots, 30 minutes.

Um, put stuff up on the wall that people critique you. If people feel like they know they're participating in the creative process, it might take some of that feedback and put it back into the design later. Um, somebody that I tell students to go to that extra mile, they'll just wait until somebody hands you, something like, come on, go, especially now, how long are you gonna wait?

So the world gets back to norm.

This is what your passion should be. You should be in this industry or you shouldn't. And if you're going to be in this industry, you're going to have to love it. What will you do is take abuse. Whether it's from clients, art directors, directors, consumers, lawyers, um, everybody's got an opinion.

Yeah. I always go in and you know, when you're sitting across from somebody or even on zoom, but usually when you're sitting across from you, you can read their body and you can tell they want to give you, they want to critique you, but they don't want. 

Right, but you have to open it up. How are you going to know?

That's how we find that we're going to go with somebody else. 

I tell showing something, I always go look, you're gonna, you might hate everything about this, or, you know, you might love it. Lets us talk about it and just try to give them, you know, open that door for them to just be. Uh, nothing, nothing worse than them.

Just not calling you back. Yeah, because 

it's art. You have to be honest. It's an emotional connection. We're emotional people when we do it. And a lot of times we get angry from backward seats, but that makes us work harder. And I only want to work when I, when I come into a meeting or. Uh, design review. I want to work with other designers that are better than that way I work are, you know, or give feedback that I can build up the design, you know, ultimately where it's team.

And we only have one, one thing ends up winning the designs will go up, hopefully up on a show and we did it together. And whether you just said, maybe that shouldn't be white, but that should be. Once the whole stream of consciousness took off. 

We're part of that process. 

Everybody should get credit. 

I love that, man.

That's awesome, gene. Listen, if anybody wants to reach out to you, it's working company.com 


or milk by serial.com.

Um, I think there's a couple of 

this is killer. I think everybody should go to working company.com. Look at the play section. And if you're thinking of hiring. You might just find your brand already living on here and just buy it. You know, I appreciate this is a whole new, a whole new business, man. I think this is really, really cool.

Thank you. Thank you for this interview. I really enjoyed my first month. I felt uncomfortable starting. I mean, if you're comfortable. 

Awesome. I'm a huge, I'm a huge Jean fan. Now this is like super cool. So let's definitely stay in. Let's stay in touch. Awesome. Uh, what I will do is I will follow up with, uh, if, if I can get a headshot from you and then if it's okay, if it's okay for me to use the work in your play section in the promo.

Okay. Awesome. Thanks. I'll try to get this up here in the next week. 

I'll share it as much as constantly. 

Awesome. I appreciate it. I'm looking forward to seeing food gazey.