Tom Sutton sees himself as not only a graphic designer, but a thinker and problem solver. At CannonDesign, he’s also our graphic design manager — overseeing our company’s visual brand identity, and ensuring our marketing materials clearly (and elegantly) communicate what makes our firm special. Read on for a look into Tom’s role at CannonDesign.
What attracted you to the graphic design field?
I didn’t fully understand the impact graphic design could have until my first typography course in college. The class showed me graphic design has the power to shape communication, create identities, and affect decision making, which I found incredibly appealing and relevant because I was studying journalism and drawing at the time. It also made me curious about the ways graphic design functions as both fine art and commercial art, which inspired me to experiment with those boundaries.
You’ve been with the firm for almost 8 years. How did you end up at CannonDesign, and why do you choose to stay?
At the beginning of my final year of college, I was hired as a marketing intern after working for some time at a small boutique design agency. I didn’t know much about architecture when I started, but I remember being excited to work in an environment where everyone valued design as much as I did, and that’s something I’m still excited about today.
There are many reasons I choose to stay at CannonDesign. Each day is different from the next, whether it be the project I’m working on or the team I’m working with. The main reason I choose to stay is the culture of creativity. Working in an environment surrounded by other designers keeps me passionate and motivated to do my best.
You work within CannonDesign’s Marketing Communications (MarCom) team. Can you provide details on what this team does?
The MarCom team has many responsibilities, but at our core, we are responsible for bringing the voice of the firm to life. Logistically, MarCom consists of people who specialize in graphic design, communications, research, photography and marketing pursuits. All of us work together to coalesce our voice through a variety of channels, including our website, proposals, email campaigns, social media, and much more.
What’s been your favorite at-work experience or project?
Being a part of the ongoing development and evolution of CannonDesign’s brand is my favorite project. After designing for the brand for the past 8 years, it’s incredible to take a step back and see the progression and how we have moved the needle forward. It also makes me optimistic and excited for where we are headed next.
You’re very involved in maintaining CannonDesign’s brand identity. How would you define our brand identity, and why is it important?
Our identity is one of the most important parts of CannonDesign because it defines who we are and sets us apart. We’re problem solvers, so a large part of who we are is our process, our ideas and our solutions. The work we do for our clients involves taking complex challenges and creating solutions that work better for the people and environments they exist within. The same can be said for the way we translate and express our identity — we’re focused on creating solutions that better communicate who we are for our people and our clients, whatever the context may be. If I had to summarize our brand, I’d describe it as inherently positive and holistic.
We regularly use the term “design excellence” to describe physical spaces designed exceptionally well. But how do you achieve design excellence in graphic design?
Defining “design excellence” is tricky and a little difficult because it can be subjective and a matter of taste. Design really boils down to the interaction of form and function and whether or not it is intentional and purposeful. I believe design excellence is achieved when the form and function achieve their purpose in a successful, beautiful way.