Bobby Campbell is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. At UNC Charlotte, Professor Campbell teaches classes in typography, communications design and graphic design projects. He began a career in 1999 as a full-time graphic designer and creative director, then in 2003 returned to school and completed an MFA in Studio Art & Design at the University of Michigan. Today he also exhibits work and produces graphic design as part of a blended art and design practice.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I think it’s important to draw inspiration from a wide variety of sources. It is very easy to become set with certain solutions as a designer, particularly with deadlines and client pressure. Yet one of the great things about our field is its diversity: of styles, of materials, of technologies, of clients, of practitioners, of projects, etc. To stay fresh, I try to keep my eyes open to almost anything I encounter during the day that could inspire me, with its color, texture, pattern, shape or with its meaning, metaphor, attitude, or passion. One of the great things about being a design educator is that you can also be continually surprised and refreshed by the interests of your students.
How and why did you get involved with AIGA? Approximately how long have you been involved with the organization?
I joined pretty late in my career, actually, and wish I had joined earlier. Despite the fact that I have been a professional designer since 1998, I didn’t join AIGA until I moved to Charlotte in 2010.
I decided to join in 2010 in part to participate in the AIGA Educators’ Conferences. Both the 2010 conference in Raleigh and the 2013 conference in Norfolk were terrific experiences that significantly expanded my horizons, personally and professionally. I have met many passionate, talented designers and educators through these conferences and really value those connections.
I also strongly encourage my students at UNC Charlotte to participate in the student chapter as well as AIGA events happening in Charlotte.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Your career is a marathon, not a sprint.” When I was a younger designer, I did not have very good skills at listening to clients and instead focused on my own vision of what I thought would be award-winning work. A boss I had back then—who was also a good friend—pulled me aside after I threw a tantrum. He pointed out that I could be a great designer IF I focused on making good work over a long period, rather than turning each individual project into a make-or-break test.
If you could be any superhero (existing or new), who would you be and why?
Well, I am a big fan of superheroes and superheroines, so this is a tough one. The most practical super character to be in real life is also one of my favorites: The Flash. If I could tap into the Speed Force like the Flashes, I could finally start chipping away at my way-too-long list of things I want to do in life: learn French, restore an old car, travel the world, etc., etc.
What are you currently working on?
I just wrapped up the longest client project of my career: a two-year rebranding of a Charlotte-based national nonprofit, STARS Computing Corps. We created a new visual identity, a new website, and various pieces of new printed and digital collateral to enhance the organization’s membership and development expansion.
Over the past five years, I have been creating digital drawings in Adobe Illustrator as part of one continuous series on myths and legends. I exhibit these works in galleries across the US and internationally.
Each month, AIGA Charlotte strives to highlight one of its members. If you have any ideas for our next spotlight, please contact Mark Iafrate at firstname.lastname@example.org.