For Promax Europe speaker Craig Black, following his passion is not only the key to a happy life; it’s the foundation of his career as a designer, typographer and lettering artist.
“From the moment I graduated from college, I knew that I wanted to be an independent designer, specializing in typography and lettering,” Black said. “I had that vision and goal from day one, which not many people have. But for me, that was just my calling. It’s exactly what I wanted to do.”
But Black’s interest in design stemmed from another passion altogether: football (also known to Americans as soccer). At 15 years old, he achieved his “dream career” of playing football professionally. Over time, however, his priorities and interests shifted—and so did his career choice.
“I wanted to change my career totally because I was so disheartened and just lost my love for the game, which was a horrible experience… My decision was to try something different and find more happiness, because I wasn’t enjoying football at the time.”
Black turned to his former art teacher who throughout high school had encouraged him to take up design. When Black made his decision to leave professional sports, that conversation resurfaced and landed him in college to study the subject.
Although college itself was a turning point for Black, he discovered his true passion—typography and lettering—during his final university project.
“It was my first attempt [at] any lettering work. I found it super challenging, like really, really hard… It kinda made me want to accomplish it. And it made me realize that this is something that I wanted to do for the rest of my career,” he said.
And Black did exactly that, working full-time at design agencies to build his portfolio, pick up freelance work and dedicate evenings and weekends to perfecting his craft.
“And I worked bloody hard to get into this situation,” Black said. “Sometimes I have to pinch myself and say, ‘Wow, what a situation to be in, but it all comes from hard work… I don’t believe in luck, and it’s hard work that’s paid off.”
Now, Black is well known for his versatility, innovative lettering installations, and branding design as he bolsters his independent brand. But most importantly, he takes pride in his work for himself, not because he seeks the approval of others, he says.
“If you love what you do, showcase it to the world regardless of [likes on social platforms]. You don’t need likes to define yourself as a person… My mindset now is set to positivity, and doing what I do right now makes me extremely happy.”
But Black’s former profession isn’t stuck in the past. His competitive nature and “always-improving” mentality made its way into his design career and ultimately, his outlook on life.
“I’m always, constantly challenging myself to improve, to get better… And it’s the same as when I was an athlete. I think that mentality has proved significant and my design career and my own businesses… The professionalism, being on time, being honest in terms of representing your [football] club, being an upstander and inspiring others.”
When he’s not creating elaborate installations for clients such as MadeBrave, OFFF and RIG Arts, Black is traveling around the world to share his story and inspire others to do what they love. Black will dive into his journey, including how he got his business up and running with no financial safety net, during his session at Promax Europe 2020 on 16 March in Madrid, Spain.
“If your gut and your heart are pushing you towards something that you’ve always dreamed about, then you need to go for it, no matter what,” Black said. “There’s been plenty of trials and tribulations on the way for me and obviously starting that business [without] any funding whatsoever. I just love the journey. I really do, and I want to share it with the world and just give every bit of value that I’ve learned along the way to [other people].”
Registration for Promax Europe 2020 is now open. Catch Black’s session, “Craft Your Future,” on 16 March from 10-10:40 a.m.
[All images and videos courtesy of Craig Black].
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