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Meet Loganville Designer and Illustrator: Lou Simeone

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lou Simeone.

Lou, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My passion for art goes back to when I was a boy. I used to sit for hours everyday, drawing Disney and Looney Tunes characters. At that time I always dreamt of being an animator for Disney. As a teenager, my interests changed, and my sights turned to the album cover artwork of bands like Iron Maiden, Nazareth, and Molly Hatchet. One of my favorites was Ozzy Osbourne’s, The Ultimate Sin, which was illustrated by all time great, Boris Vallejo. And, so like many teenage artists at that time, I would spend my days listening to music and copying album artwork. I can’t tell you how many times I drew Iron Maiden’s Eddie. It wasn’t until I entered college that I discovered the field of Graphic Design. And a completely different world opened up to me.

I attended William Paterson University and graduated with a BFA with a concentration in Graphic Design. When I first graduated I paid my dues as an underpaid, over worked designer doing board work – yes, actual paste-up, with wax, X-Acto knives, Rubylith overlays and Stat cameras. Although there’s nothing like board work to help one learn about page layout and typography, I was hungry for some actual design work. So I took the leap and headed into Manhattan – New York – just like I pictured it. Those years I spent at agencies, some as a staff designer, others as a freelance designer, really helped me to hone my skills as a designer. I even landed an onsite consultant gig at the Twin Towers. But the city commute can be a bit grueling after a while and the agency hours are too. So, after a few years, I headed back to Jersey. And as of 3 years ago, I’ve made my way down South to beautiful, sunny Georgia.

I’ve been running Lou Simeone Design for quite some time. Small and local businesses come to me mainly for logo and website design. The big agencies are too expensive for the little guys and quite frankly, most small businesses don’t need everything that comes with a big agency – especially the big price tag. That’s when they turn to professionals like me. I’ll get phone calls from some agencies too, but most of my work comes from small businesses, entrepreneurs, or people who have side projects going on and have a need for a designer or illustrator. I’ve done everything from designing and building websites to illustrating children’s books. And I love it all.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has been anything but a smooth road. I can tell you honestly that no one has ever handed me anything. I learned straight out of college that you needed two things in addition to having talent and skill to make it in this field – that’s heart and a thick skin. You have to be willing to take some hits and keep going.

When I was in college, computers were just making their way onto the scene. We had “computer labs” that students played around in but when it came to completing design assignments we were still doing everything by hand. A couple of years after I graduated everything changed. No one would even look at your resume if you didn’t know Quark, Illustrator, and Photoshop. I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I had the design and illustration skills. The computer was just another tool. So I saved $4,000 I made from my paste-up job during the day and bought myself a Mac, which didn’t come with a monitor, keyboard or mouse at the time. I “acquired” some of the necessary software from a friend of mine who was a video editor. And then just I spent countless hours at night learning Quark, Photoshop, and Illustrator. It all paid off though because not too long after that I landed my first design job at an agency in New York.

When the internet hit the scene and web design became the “new thing” I found myself in the same boat. Having spent years doing print work, web design was all new to me. So, just like before I hit the computer to learn HTML, CSS, and jQuery. I started off building my own portfolio sites – one thing led to another, and I embarked on a career in the digital space. On the job, I learned about UX design, user interaction, user research, etc.

Those were just two challenges out of many. Your career isn’t going to be a straight road. It zig zags and sometimes even loops back around before going forward again. I’m always trying to prepare for the next curve ball. What’s it going to be? VR? Robots? I’ll be ready. You always have to be willing to change and adapt. Yes, I’m going to pull out the Bruce Lee – be like water.

What is the most difficult part of what you do?
I think self-promotion has always been the most difficult thing about being a designer and illustrator. Getting your name out there can be tough. People find me online or through word of mouth. A lot of my clients are repeat clients so that’s nice. I always thought it would be nice to have a rep for my illustration work but I just can’t seem to find the time to promote myself to them too. And then there’s sending out invoices and handling the administrative work. That’s a necessary evil I’m a creative, I’d rather spend my time creating – but you have to get paid.

What are you striving for, what criteria or markers have you set as indicators of success?
Am I better than I was yesterday, a month ago, a year ago? I like to grow, improve and learn. That’s how I define success. I compare myself to myself. Hey, I’m not a hippie. I understand we all need money to live. But I don’t define success by the size of my wallet or by title, Creative Director, Art Director, etc. Those things come and go. No one can take your skills and knowledge away from you. Hey, it might sound corny but that’s how I feel. I didn’t become a designer to be rich. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not giving my work away. I’ve worked hard at developing my skills and I get paid accordingly. Constant improvement just means more to me on a personal level.

So, what should we be on the lookout for, what’s next in store for you?
Changes in technology – that’s what I’m looking forward to. Technology fascinates me. Chatbots, virtual reality, IOT, screen-less gadgets like Amazon’s Echo are all shaping the future. It will be interesting to see what role designers play in all of this. I think having the ability to be flexible is the best way to prepare for these things. When Sketch first came out I worked with some designers who refused to learn it or griped about learning it because they always did layout for the web in Photoshop. That’s the wrong attitude. I jumped at the chance to learn Sketch and found it better to do layout work than Photoshop (sorry Adobe). Be adaptable, develop your problem solving and drawing skills. How can these things be replaced?

Contact Info:

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