56 HOW Design Magazine
f you start at the top, you’re certain to drop, better begin by climbing up, up, up the ladder.” Dorothy Fields authored this lyric in her song “It’s Not Where You Start, It’s Where You Finish” for the Broadway musical, Seesaw back in 1973. Brad Joiner sparked his interest in graphic design with, well, a fascination with the ‘Care Bears.’ Yes, those ones—the polychromatic, symbol-emblazoned teddy bears. The moon meant bedtime and the heart meant love, the clover good luck. Their little emblems representing some sort of human attribute are what first caught six year old Brad’s eye to the world of visual communication. What a long way it came. Dorothy was right. How did a fascination of a childhood afternoon TV show transform into a career? “I think that [fascination] grew into an interest in sports logos, specifically football because of the emblems on the helmets, which were similar to the emblems of the Care Bears.” This pushed Brad to begin orchestrating his own emblems, or logos, as well as recreating existing logos for fun. Along the way, he gained an obsession with type, letters, and fonts. “I always carried those two interests with me, and that naturally led me into the universe of graphic design.” His father was his first client, for his company, a military base branch in Georgia. At only age 17, he designed their logo for a freelance pay of $200. After high school, Brad continued his education at the Savannah College of Art And Design, in Georgia earning his undergraduate degree in graphic design in 2003. Another step up the ladder. Through those years his professors aided him in honing his skills for design, though his style is still a style all his own. There he began doing freelance work, under the name ‘Nitroseed’ and ‘Prazna/Joiner Creative.’ To date, Brad has done work for Sony, Microsoft, Nestle, CNBC, The PGA Tour, and The New York Times, most notably. Brad has logos published in LogoLounge 4: 2,000 International Identities by Leading Designers, and has won the American Graphic Design Award from GDUSA in 2007 for his Buzz Media Group logo. He has also done video game illustrations, packaging, and web design, amongst many other projects in the graphic design spectrum.
If Brad had to title his style, he’d say it was an illustrative style that didn’t necessarily become an illustration. He draws much of his inspiration from the art deco period, establishing depth with minimalist shapes and colors. “Abandon the obvious solutions, and do something unexpected,” he preaches. His typographic style adheres to the project it is for, in and of itself. He seems to work much more with serifs and display typefaces, as opposed to body type. “I try to design compelling type, and treat type as a design element as opposed to an afterthought,” he said. “I think just typing something out and leaving it is a copout. A lot of designers don’t even kern their type, and that’s an eyesore. At the very least kern your type!” With all of his success and more to come, I asked Brad what his next step was. He replied, “I feel like I’m beneath a glass ceiling. I know the sky is the limit, and I see it, but there is this glass ceiling holding me back.” Working under someone else is not optimizing his potential. He clarifies, “I’m in the process of coming up with a new brand. I’ve thought about using my name, but if the company ever grows, I don’t want it to bear my name, because it won’t just be about me. If I ever have people working with me, I want to emphasize that everyone is on the same level and contributes the same thing, so a different brand would be right for that. Right now, while it’s just me, it makes sense to use my own name.” Brad’s style and designs speak volumes, the nature of his work is moving, motivating and profound. He tends to create very innovative and cutting edge work, even in the most basic form of clientele. He caters to the fact that without communication the world comes to a standstill. “Our industry is one of communication. Our job is to convey a message, whatever that may be, to someone, whoever that may be, based on what we’re directed to do.” To quote one Dorothy Fields, “Your final return will not diminish, and you can be cream of the crop. It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish, and you’re gonna finish on top.”