Sometimes when it rains, it pours... This just in from Dan Gretta (PhilaU GDC, 2008), Senior Designer at CF Napa, Napa Valley, CA. “Since graduating, I've had the privilege of experiencing a variety of industries. My career began in advertising and branding at an agency in New Jersey called 1 Trick Pony. Working there allowed me to get my hands on logos, web, illustration and packaging. Some of the larger clients included Turner Classic Movies, Sony Pictures Classics, Hard Rock and Virgin Mobile.
Black Coffee was one of my first branding projects. To this day, Black Coffee has opened up a lot of freelance opportunities. 1 Trick taught me a lot of what I know today and set the bar for how well things should be designed. After a few years I wanted to move away from advertising and focus solely on branding and packaging.
After 1 Trick Pony and my relocation to Boston, I began working remotely for Forefathers Group—a small web and branding agency. I had previously done freelance with one of the partners of the company (before they went under the "Forefathers" moniker) and they had an open design position. We worked on anything from logos to packaging to websites. My experience working remotely was one of my greatest experiences and greatest challenges. It required a lot of discipline and the ability to work with minimal interaction. After some of our larger pieces were published, we began receiving more inquiries to do similar work and after a while, I found myself somewhat pigeonholed. It's great to be able to work toward perfecting a certain style, but makes it a challenge to learn new things as well as offer versatility to new clients.
HMNIM is an apparel company started by Mark Hoppus. The overall theme was based around a previously designed octopus. Above is a sheet of cards that I designed with a nautical theme while working at Forefathers.
Theory 11 was another client that I had the privilege of working with at Forefathers. The aesthetic was designed to resemble vintage jewelry, decorative architecture and ornate furniture to depict the interior of the Waldorf Astoria.
American Provisions is an amazing shop located in South Boston. After my frequenting for specialty sandwiches, coffees and cheeses, I had acquired another amazing freelance client. I had the opportunity to design a series of ads, which ran in Edible Boston.
Recently, I have accepted a senior design position at CF Napa, where I focus on designing for the wine and spirits industry. It's the first job that I've had where my process is extremely important. In any other gig, it was almost always about the final product and rarely how I got there. Now, the sketches play an integral role in the final product—there are no computers in phase 1. Even the details of typography in sketching is important. It's the closest process to what I was taught at PhilaU.
The wine industry has been a really unique experience thus far. While you can do some really amazing things with wine and spirits, it's important not only to connect with the consumer, but to be cognizant of established trends based on region or country, which is something I haven't really experienced in other industries. Each project is unique in its research, approach and execution. Now I'm able to focus on branding, illustration, typography and packaging for each project, which is exactly what I've been working toward over the years.