Graphic & Web Design
Creative Director, Vista Growth
The Art Institute of Atlanta
My education provided the framework to make sense of my design skills. Once I started school at The Art Institute of Atlanta, I knew I was at the right place. Christophe Laurenceau , Creative Director, Vista Growth Associate of Arts in Graphic & Web Design, 2010 , The Art Institute of Atlanta
Creative Director Oversees Design and Concepting—Also Starting Life-Balance Business
Christophe Laurenceau is the creative director for the small strategy agency Vista Growth. He is responsible for graphic design, concepting, storyboarding, and managing design and photography-related projects for clients. Additionally, he freelances and is building a life-balance business with his wife called The Actualized. “Most days, I spend my time working with account managers and clients,” he says. “I create concepts and solutions for advertising needs and contribute to the overall marketing strategies for our clients. After that, I work on my freelance business and spend as much time with my wife and daughter as I can.”
He says that each job in his career has been “25% knowing what I'm doing and 75% figuring out as I go along. That means forcing myself to learn new things each time my job changed.” Christophe’s job transitions included moving from the position of creative director for a major marketing agency to the user experience director for a small tech start-up. “You have to push yourself to learn more always, or you'll become irrelevant.” His prior employers include Backbone PLM, The Impact Partnership, AutoTrader.com, and Trafik Tradeshow.
Christophe mentions that he’s constantly challenged by the creative landscape. “When I started out of school, people wanted designers that could code, then designers that could animate, then designers that could code, animate, and write copy. Eventually I realized they didn't want designers, they wanted multi-faceted creative directors that could jump in anywhere they needed.” He used this to his advantage to build a strong portfolio of work in print design, web design, user research, social marketing, motion graphics, video advertising, and virtual reality.
He adds that working at an agency doesn’t always mean working in a creative culture. “I once worked for a financial marketing agency that was stiff and lacked any sort of creativity. I took the job because I wanted to change that, and eventually hired a team of people that helped me to change that.” By the time he left the company, there was a big change in the overall culture. “We created an environment that enabled failure for learning, celebrated successes, and made you want to come in each day.”
Christophe believes that mistakes help people to grow as creative professionals. “I think every experience is beneficial, whether it feels like it or not. I've made some huge failures in my time, but also have celebrated some equally impactful successes. Each instance has taught me something and makes me a better creator, student, and mentor.”
Christophe, who in 2010 earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from The Art Institute of Atlanta, says that his education provided a strong framework on which to build his future. “I transferred into the school as a biology major because I was spending more time doodling and growing my freelance business in the fashion and design industries [than studying biology]. Once I started school at The Art Institute of Atlanta, I knew I was at the right place.”
He advises current students to have goals—and stick to them. “School will only take you so far. I hustled through school in the fashion industry and landed my first corporate role straight out of my portfolio show. I feel blessed for the opportunity, but know that if I hadn't sought out opportunities while I was in school, I would just have a degree and not a career.”
Today, he is committed to a creative career that’s challenging and enjoyable. “I read a book called Never Sleep, about the experience of going to a design school and spending every waking moment working on creative solutions. I thought that's what school was about. What I realized was that school was more about filling in the gaps of understanding that I was missing from my work. And now instead of not sleeping, I focus on balancing my work with my other passions.”