All About the details with Jalen Greene
From a young age, Jalen Greene knew graphic design was his calling. He took the necessary steps to secure his future in design and advertising; currently his dreams are coming to fruition. The Philadelphia native discusses when he discovered his passion, his favorite design, as well as his thoughts on the misconceptions about graphic design.
How did you get into graphic design?
When I was younger, and even to this day, I’ve had a love and interest in video games. I can’t exactly recall when, but at some point in 4th grade I found out that one of the careers in the video game world was titled ‘graphic designer.’ Without really knowing what it was, I decided at 9 years old that’s what I wanted to do with my creative skills.
You went to high school for creative arts (Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts). What skills did you learn that prepared you for this career?
The most important skills! I’d say the skill I took away the most was time management. With life you’re always juggling different things you have to do, especially as a graphic designer. Learning how to budget my time so that I can complete a design in a timely and efficient manner is an invaluable skill to have. I was also introduced to the most important software for graphic designers: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. I honed my skills in these programs so that by the time I graduated high school, I was entering college with a pretty good knowledge of the software and how it functions.
What is your creative process?
When I receive a design commission, I always start with researching things related to the project, so that I can relate more to the project on a personal level, and not just working on something that I don’t know anything about. For example, I recently worked on a project for Sony Music where I was commissioned to create a graphic for a rapper called ‘Def Loaf.’ I really didn’t know much about her or her music so I took it upon myself to research her background, music, style, etc. This made the project easier for me now that I had a sense of who she was as a person. I also like to take my design drafts and concepts to pencil and sketchbook rather than immediately go into the software programs and start creating the final piece.
When did you know that you could turn your talents into a career?
I knew as early as 3rd grade! When I was younger, I used to draw pictures of cartoon characters and other things for my classmates. I used to charge a dollar for a drawing and my illustrations became really popular among my peers, so I guess you could say I knew from that point that my art was good enough to make me some money! Ha Ha!
How long does it take you to complete a design?
It honestly varies between projects. Some can take as short as a couple of days. Others can take up to a month or longer. It depends on the complexity of the commission and how much communication I have with the person/company/group that assigned the project to me.
What about advertising and graphic design intrigues you?
I am most intrigued by how graphic design and advertising affects each and every one of us on a daily basis. Look around you; I’m sure there is some sort of graphic or advertisement in your immediate vicinity. It can be very influential on a conscious and sub-conscious level! I just think it’s cool that I have a hand in influencing people through my designs.
Where do you find inspiration to create?
I find a lot of inspiration through social media. I follow many amazing artists and design companies on my Instagram and Facebook pages. The creativity I see often inspires me to want to draw/design similar things as well as hone my skills as an artist altogether. I also find inspiration in many of the animated shows I watch. The colorful characters, the vividness of the backgrounds, and the captivating storylines really get me pumped to create!
What is your favorite creation and what is the story behind it?
I have a lot of things that I’ve worked on that I’m truly proud of, but the one that comes to mind most often is my very first graphic design freelance commission. It was during my freshman year in college that I created a logo for an online luxury consignment shop called ‘PinkLilyRose.’ It was a challenge, but I managed to come up with a beautiful Typographic Logo that stills holds up to my standards as a designer today, even though that project was a few years ago now. The client loved it, I was paid, and I felt very happy and accomplished to say the least!
Do you collaborate with different companies?
I have not collaborated with any companies to complete a design commission. I am open to working with companies though! All of my professional work up to that point have been projects taken on by myself. However, I will ask friends and/or other people I trust on what they think of my work up to that point and take their critiques into consideration.
Do companies reach out to you to create or do you reach out to them?
Clients and companies have contacted me for my design services. Occasionally, I’ll reach out to a client or company I haven’t had contact with in a while just to catch up, see how things are going with the business or whatever it is that I designed, and to remind them that I’m available for future services if needed!
What is your ultimate dream career in the graphic design field?
I’d love to become an Art Director or Creative Director for a big Advertising or Design company, preferably in New York City! Alternatively, I’d like one day to start my own creative agency or business. All in due time.
What is the biggest misconception about this field?
That graphic design is ‘easy’ or ‘not that hard.’ Everything that I create, I make sure to take painstaking care that it is up to standard. Some of the simplest things people see on an ad or design take many hours of work to be aesthetically pleasing. I may work on getting the perfect shade of blue for a background so that the words POP off the ad and thus drive more people to look. I may re-draw the same thing multiple times to get it perfect, and the spacing between this paragraph and that header may need to be tweaked. Graphic design is ALL ABOUT THE DETAILS!
Have you experienced any challenges/triumphs?
The biggest challenge I face is finding and securing work. As a freelancer, commissions are not consistent and this can cause issues with keeping my pockets from going empty! I often find myself at times with so much work that I’m working on multiple projects at once. Other times, I’ll go a month or two without one!
Another challenge is finding a permanent position as a graphic designer. Since I’ve graduated college, I’ve only had internships and have yet to snag a full-time position on doing graphic design.
The triumphs are the freelance jobs that I do get and complete; I’m forever thankful and appreciative that people contact me to do business and do not take that for granted!
Contact Jalen at:
Jalen Greene, Graphic Design & Advertising