Alumni Stories

Thomas Manley

Graphic & Web Design

Creative Director at Focal Point Marketing & Multimedia
The Art Institute of Seattle

Thomas Manley

[My instructors] never made it easy on me or other students, but [they] got the best work out of us, and in the process, made us better designers. Thomas Manley , Creative Director at Focal Point Marketing & Multimedia Associate of Applied Arts in Graphic Design, 2005 , The Art Institute of Seattle

Creative Leader Oversees Branding, Print, Web, and Videography

Thomas Manley is the creative director at Focal Point Marketing & Multimedia in Kennewick, Washington. “Being in a small agency setting still requires that I'm very hands on with production. I spend anywhere from 4-6 hours per day in production mode, working on design projects for our clients. The other hours are spent in client meetings, staff meetings, brainstorming sessions, photo and video shoots, strategy sessions, eating or drinking coffee, or taking a break to shoot some hoops in our studio,” he says. Thomas is the creative leader on all things brand, print, web and videography within the company. He adds that his design work includes logos, brochures, print ads, business cards, posters, flyers, bus and transit ads, and product packaging. He also conceptualizes television commercial ideas, including copy and scriptwriting.

He recommends that current students stay focused when the going gets tough. “There's always a light at the end of the tunnel. Continue to push yourself—as a designer, as a business person, a leader, and a collaborator. Don't limit yourself.” Thomas suggests that difficult circumstances help designers to adapt and evolve as artists. He tells a story of looking for a new job in a new city—which became a tough situation when the job he really wanted offered him a salary lower than expected. “At that point, it came down to knowing my worth. I had an established portfolio and reputation for quality work and I knew I was worth more than what they were offering me.” He declined the job, and a month later received a call from one of the people he’d interviewed with. The person had moved to a new agency and recruited Thomas to come work with him.

Thomas believes that graphic design requires lifelong learning and an ability to adapt to new technologies, trends, industries, and skill sets. “I'm always looking to grow my skills and learn new skills like leadership, strategy or public speaking.” He adds that it’s important to be able to communicate well and collaborate as a team member.

Working in a creative environment is important for innovation, he adds. “Every week, I have my staff in creative meetings doing exercises that help us to think outside the box a bit. Our team is more likely to do its best work in an open, stress-free environment.” He also encourages music to boost creativity.

Thomas says that each of his jobs has led him to a new experience. “The hard work that I've put in at each job, on every project, has helped me to grow as a creative professional. I've won numerous advertising industry awards for my design work, including ADDYs.”

Prior to his current position, he was an in-house designer and webmaster for The Art Institute of Seattle. He also worked as a graphic designer for advertising agency BHW1 and as a production artist for PIP Printing.

Thomas, who in 2005 earned an Associate of Applied Arts in Graphic Design from The Art Institute of Seattle, says that his instructors made an impact on him. “They presented us with real-world problems that we had to solve. [They] never made it easy on me or other students, but [they] got the best work out of us, and in the process, made us better designers.”

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