Lisa Campana is the Head of Design at Moo. We asked her about her career path, working at MOO, and where she draws creative inspiration from:
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you work and what you do?
Lisa: I’m originally from New York, but I’ve been lucky enough to call London as my home for the past 16 years. I’m a Communication Designer and I’m currently Head of Design at MOO.
When did you know what you wanted to do with your life and how did you set out to achieve it?
I’ve always loved art. I was one of those students in school who always took art projects a bit too seriously. However, I didn’t discover that you could do Graphic Design as a career until my arts foundation year at Syracuse University. Until that point I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do, but seeing the incredible work people were doing in the Communication Design program there was a real turning point. The program there was really demanding, we worked day and night, but it really prepared us for the “real world” of design, which can be as equally demanding. Communication Design taught me how to solve problems regardless of the medium, something I’m truly grateful for as this has allowed me to work on a broad range of projects from physical to digital. It also taught me a very human-centered approach to design, I think a lot about how design affects people and vice versa. I graduated full of enthusiasm and headed straight to New York City with some friends and found a job within a week. From there it was lots of hard work and being able to recognise opportunities (and going for them). Strangely, from a young age I always wanted to work in London, so I feel very fortunate that my career has brought me this way.
Could you also tell us about your very first role? Also, what attracted you to your current role?
My first role out of school was working for a photographer just silhouetting things in PhotoShop. It was totally mindless work, but New York is expensive, so I took the first thing I could find. Luckily, I very quickly found a role within Interbrand as a Production Designer. I got to work directly with senior level designers on very large scale projects and starting out in production taught me real discipline and attention to detail.
What attracted me to my current role? I’ve always worked with brands I’ve admired. I’d been a customer of MOO for several years for both myself and freelance clients. I loved the personality of their brand and the level of detail that they go into, it filters down through every touchpoint a customer interacts with.
Could you tell us about your typical work day at MOO? What is a good day?
MOO is pure magic. The people here are amazing and it’s a really fun and creative brand so although we all work hard we really enjoy what we do. A typical day involves working directly with my incredibly talented creative team developing new creative concepts, be it on a new set of design templates, a new campaign, one of the many worldwide events we have a stand at (such as HOW, Scope and SxSW), looking at work in progress and ensuring everything is on brand, which means that it feels very ‘MOO’… If there’s a photoshoot in the studio, things can often get interesting, there’s always rather odd props that need sourcing. In the past I’ve been called upon to be a hand model, make a balloon poodle and fold some origami shrimp.
A good day at MOO is when we work collaboratively, get positive customer feedback and there’s a dog in the office.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
Time. There’s just never enough time in the day!
You have an impressive design team at MOO, could you tell us a bit about them? Do you look for a particular quality when hiring?
The team at MOO is the reason I’m here. We have a really talented group of designers, photographers, copywriters and artworkers both in London and in our US office located in Boston. The company supports design and creativity and the team here constantly surpass any design challenge thrown at them. It’s hard to make tiny bits of paper appear interesting, but through our brand and tone of voice we’re allowed to get quite creative. Design is at the heart of our business and our in-house team have a great opportunity to work on all types of projects across print, packaging, digital, advertising, emails, stands that we bring to our trade shows and events and even the design of our offices.
We look for people who are good, solid, conceptual thinkers and can design for any medium. We like people who are friendly and easy to work with, so a fun and outgoing personality definitely helps.
In your role as Head of Design do you ever get the chance to design? If yes, could you tell us about your process? If no, do you miss being hands on?
This is the first role I’ve been in where I am not hands on. I’m one of those designers that likes to really know the tools of the trade and was worried that by not designing every day I’d lose those skills. Strangely though I find I’m not missing designing every day because I find that I’m still able to be creative through art direction and mentoring. Although from time to time I still jump in on design or production when the studio is busy and it’s all hands on deck.
Is there something you have designed or worked on that you’re most proud of? Is there something you have worked on that you regret?
I’ve been helping to build the knowledge base on the Creative team for all things digital. I recently worked with the team to help them better understand designing for responsive emails, and I think the results from that are really unique because very few had designed for that type of medium before. I’m truly proud of all the work we produce at MOO. It’s a great brand to design for and even though we’re in-house we have a lot of flexibility to be creative.
Regrets? Hmmm. There’s been a few, but not at MOO.
What does success mean to you? Have you achieved it yet?
Good question. Designers are taught to think that success is when you win lots of awards for your work, but that’s totally missing the point of design… Design is about working with people and helping to improve the way people interact with and view the world. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with some amazing people on some really game changing projects and those challenges kept me inspired. So I suppose now I feel that success is having worked for over 20 years in a career that constantly challenges and inspires me and having the ability to mentor new designers.
Design aside, is there anything that has inspired and influenced your work?
I’m a HUGE fan of street art. Being based in London we are really lucky that there is so much around us. I love the conceptual and surprising nature of it, especially the artists who make you smile by taking something really mundane and making it delightful. I also love technology and interaction design and seeing how people interact with the things I design is a huge thing I constantly learn from.
Which past designers have inspired you? Which current designers do you admire?
I’m old school. Working in New York in the 1990’s I was constantly looking at what was happening on the London scene at places like Attik or The Designers Republic, but also in New York with designers like Stefan Sagmeister and Tibor Kalman. I recently met Ian Anderson (founder of The Designers Republic) at a great design festival called Offset in Sheffield and I was like a bumbling teenager. It’s not often you get to meet one of your design idols face to face.
Current designers, that’s a hard one. It’s so hard to stand out these days with the constant stream of stuff online. I think that the internet has a homogenous effect on design. There are lots of really talented designers out there, but honestly I get more inspiration from technology and science and what designers can do with that to push boundaries.
And finally, what tips would you give to young creatives that are looking to get started in design?
I think three main things. Firstly, don’t copy other people. Being good at copying trends just demonstrates to me that you can’t think for yourself. Secondly, listen to your own instincts. A headhunter once told me that my portfolio was too diverse and I should only concentrate on one type of design, but I never wanted to focus only on print design or brand design or digital design. I just like solving problems and whatever the medium that’s what I love doing, so I stuck to that and I’ve never looked back. Thirdly, never, ever, let yourself get too cocky. Be nice to people, and by that I mean everyone. Really listen to what your clients, customers and fellow co-workers are saying. There is always something you can learn and you should actively seek out the jobs where you can grow and that constantly challenge you. You’ll be a better designer for it.