Trevor Hubbard, Executive Creative Director at Butchershop: Sometimes when people don’t get it, it’s working

This interview is with Trevor Hubbard, Executive Creative Director and Partner at Butchershop. A full service integrated creative house based in San Francisco. He will be speaking at the Uncharted Minds Design Gurus Summit on May 17th.Click here to get 20% off tickets to the event.

Q. When you were growing up, were you always interested in design?

A. I don’t think I knew what design was when I was really young. I mean I did the normal a five-year-old does — like thinking I could build a Blue Angel Fighter Jet in my garage, things like that. When I was eight, I thought I could start a car detailing business called Speedy Detail with a three-tiered product offering of Super Wash, Super Duper Wash, and Super Duper Duper Wash. I hired other kids to do the work that were a few years younger and less concerned about their wages. I think the flyer/brochure for it was the first thing I ever designed and I still have it today. It was an amazing piece of communication.

Q. What were some early influences on your career choice?

A. I think about 20 years ago my high school art teacher pushed me to make things and that was great. It stuck with me, so when I gave up my basketball scholarship at the University of San Francisco to study documentary film in Boulder, Colorado, I was able to remember what I really wanted to do — ski, build things and tell stories. Not much has changed since then.

Q. What did you study in college?

A. I studied the art of how many corners one can cut to get the same great results. No, but seriously, film, film, film. I remember being at University of Colorado, Boulder and thinking “film” was life. Watching them, making them, talking about them. I took to making documentaries and found a mentor, Jerry Aronson, who pushed me a lot to find myself and not follow the trend of this art. Flash forward 15 years, I can see how it all adds up and has motivated me to march onward, knock down doors, stand up for ideas, push my team and clients to be better and think differently.

Q. What did your parents do?

A. My dad liked to play tennis and watch Warriors basketball. And my mom loves to read books on another level. But together they come over once a week to hang with their grandson Cash Henry.

Q. Tell me about your first design job.

A. My first design job was in 1997, lasted 3 hours and I was asked not to come back. It was the Pacific Sun Newspaper and I had to make an ad for a pet grooming company. I told them I knew Quark Express and I didn’t to get the job. I spent an hour trying to make dog paws from shapes and thought I was pretty awesome. It sucked, but was an awesome experience!

Q. What were some early lessons you learned about design?

A. Here are all the lessons I have learned over the years boiled down into 13 bullet points:

  1. All design boils down to simple principles
  2. Question a question with a question — What kind of design?
  3. Design is everything and everywhere.
  4. Don’t be great. Be good.
  5. Imitation is the best way to learn.
  6. Stop trying to be perfect.
  7. Think of your user.
  8. Build good files.
  9. Realize that everyone has an opinion, and most of the time it will be critical.
  10. Don’t ask friends or family for advice on client work.
  11. Know your audience.
  12. Sometimes when people don’t get it, it’s working.
  13. Not everyone can design something.

Q. Tell me about your approach to design today.

A. My approach changes based on what I am designing. But I always push the mantra, “Simple is hard.”

Q. How do you find clients today?

A. Referrals and being a good person. That creates a culture of positivity, which attracts great clients from all over the world.

Q. What career advice would you give to young people today?

A. Understand business.

Q. Hardest part of being a designer?

A. People think we (designers) have an endless reservoir of ideas and solutions and what we do is magic. It is hard, bloody, painful work that is absolutely joyous.

Q. Favorite part of being a designer?

A. Listening to people. Finding the angle to solve a problem or expose opportunity. Making people feel something. Getting people to move.