Steven Asbury is a local Designer here in Eugene, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, Asbury moved to Arizona where he started his career as Newspaper Designer at The News Tribune. Years later, Asbury returned to Eugene where he began his own design agency, Asbury Design. Today his agency is flourishing and specializes in advertising. I sat with Asbury on Monday afternoon and asked him a few questions about a day in the life as a Designer. Here’s the transcription.
Question: Today, you run an agency that does it all, what was your focus in college and how did you transform that in to all you do now?
Answer: Well my focus in college in some ways had little to do and in some ways a lot to do with what I do now. I was a journalism major, but I was in new editorial. Now I was able to take some design courses, I took Bill Ryan’s magazine design class, a newspaper design class and did Flux as a Designer. I was a designer at the Emerald and took some classes at the architecture school and studied color theory. Even though I wasn’t a “advertising major” I learned all I do now. We do it all, print, a lot of web, billboards, TV spots – you name it, we’ve probably done it.
Question: How do you manage to do all you do? I know you have a small team, so how does it come together?
Answer: Um long days, like 14 hour days actually. Through the month of January I didn’t take a day off! As a business owner that’s what you sign up for though. I tell students if you want to work 9-5 great! go get a job at a bank. If you want to follow your passion, and do something that could be more lucrative, or could not be, then go in to journalism – do something you’re passionate about, but the guaranteed pay off and days off aren’t there.
Question: What was your best piece of advice you were given, as a student or in general? Now, what is the best piece of advice you can give?
Answer: Um, I don’t know that I can say a single piece of advice, but I had great mentors along the way. Like Tim Harrower over at the Oregonian! Like pretty much I got in to design because of him. He came and guest spoke when I was in highschool and that was like my ah-ha moment! That’s it I want to be a designer! I’ve had various people along the way that have helped me get where I am today and he’s definitely one of them. Best piece of advice I can give today? Get an internship. Use that to get another internship and then another internship, then a better internship and use that to get a job. I feel the worst when I have talented students who should go out and get great jobs, but they don’t because they didn’t spend their time wisely in college. I’ve told the story of one student who was a designer and ended up graduating and getting a job at an air conditioning company answering phones because she didn’t use her time wisely.
Question: Okay, so what programs should those college students know like the back of their hand when they apply for a job?
Answer: It’s tough for J-majors in this day because you need to be an expert in everything. I think it was easier when I was a in college because you could specialize in one thing and utilize that to go out and get you a job. Now they expect you guys to know everything and in some ways it makes you more marketable and in some ways I think it makes you less marketable. Typically when business’ are hiring, they’re hiring specifically for a web developer, they don’t really care if you do photography because that’s not what they need. On the other hand, there’s some smaller agency that needs someone who can do everything. Like with me, I’ll get students who apply for an internship and they’re great at designing for print but not for web – well I need someone who can do both.