This year is the first year that Brent Porter came to speak to the web design class. He is the Creative Director and one of the partners of the Form & Affect design agency based out of St. Catherine’s, Ontario. Form & Affect is a small design firm with solid clients like: CBC, Enterprise Canada, Karrys, Royal LePage, and many more. They keep growing with the more success they have and don’t appear to be stopping anytime soon.
At the start of our talk Brent did something different. He took the time to go around the class and ask us to tell him a bit about ourselves. It was so nice, the fact that he genuinely wanted to know about us was refreshing. Brent told us a lot of great stuff! Let’s get into it.
Brent has 20 years experience in the print world and decided a few years back that he wants to learn more about Web Design and hasn’t looked back.
He grew up in Hamilton, but then moved to St. Catharines. During that time he was mostly freelancing and he started to run into some trouble balancing the work, money, and time so he realized he had to expand and grow if he wanted to continue being successful. Brent met his partner Paul over a beer (or two) and they where both in a situation where they where looking for partners. It turns out that while Brent was more design oriented and Paul was great at handling clients. Together they applied for a competitive job for the city of Niagara and they won! This began it all.
In the early stages of creating Form & Affect Brent and Paul decided that they wanted the work to speak for it’s self. They don’t promote themselves other than with word of mouth and almost every job they’ve gotten since they started Form & Affect has been that way.
About six months into working with each other from just their home offices, they decided it was time to move into a office and after their move their clients kept growing. They realized they needed to expand and bring some new faces on to their team.
They noticed very quickly that office culture is important and Brent and Paul wanted to make sure that their office was collaborative, comfortable, and fun while still getting the work done.
They believe that they are the most successful when their employees are happy.
Next Brent had some great lessons to share with us.
1. Failing to learn
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
Brent said “Every time you learn a lesson from something you become better.”
He told us that he doesn’t formally have a design education but he sure hasn’t let that stop him. He’s had a life full of experiences, he owned two night clubs while living in Hamilton he designed the posters and flyers for events he held at the clubs and realized he really enjoyed it.
Thinking he wanted to go to school to have a formal education in design he decided to enrol in Mohawk College as a mature student and he was really excited for the new experience. Unfortunately he realized this program really behind with the times and eventually left after a few weeks.
He had always had a hard time believing in the a traditional path and decided he was going to make it his own way. He spent a few months creating a building a portfolio for himself. Then he sent it out to perspective places of employment and waited.
After waiting for awhile he finally got that call and was asked to come in for an interview. He did and he got it! Brent was so excited.
He worked with this company for awhile and even created a campaign that the companies client loved and it ended up creating a big success for his company.
Unfortunately with his success he realized that his boss wasn’t what he expected her to be. He received no thank you, and was under appreciated. He later got fired from this job.
Brent told us that even though he had such a bad experience with this job he still learned a lot from it. Like how to treat employees, not like you are the boss and they must obey you but more like partners and friends and how you should treat your clients the same way.
He also learned, when you fall down. You get right back up and go again.
Our next lesson was:
Being in your element
Brent experienced a moment of tragedy that opened him up to learning how our minds tick and what drives our actions.
This is what lead Brent to find his element which is user experience.
He went on to tell us that we also need to find our element. If we can find that we will be golden. He says finding the piece of design your really good at is important, and to not get yourself in a rut in which you hate what you’re doing or you will loose your passion.
Lastly he talked to us about Empathy.
“I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.” – Abe Lincoln
Brent told us that we should get to know our clients better so that we are able to communicate freely and have respect for each other. He told us that a client designer relationship should be more like a marriage not that anyone has more knowledge over the other.
It was really great hearing Brent’s story. Learning about his journey inspired me in mine I hope to reach my goals when it comes to my career like Brent has.
Turn your experiences into strengths.
How to get in contact with Brent Porter
Company Website: http://formandaffect.com/
Brent’s personal Twitter: @brntprtr
Company Twitter: @formandaffect