Steve Cousins, who recently just became Creative Director at Cinco Design, explains to us the steps involved during a week of coming into a new job. He also tells us the importance of cultural fit, while just as important – being a good writer and not just a good designer. And the rewarding feeling design gives you when you can create such positive, fulfilling, and transformational experiences.
When did you fall in love with design and when did you get started?
The first time that design mattered to me was in the early 80’s. I was flipping through an issue of Transworld Skateboarding Magazine and came across a photo of Lance Mountain’s graphic for Powell Peralta. It was an arrangement of crudely drawn silhouettes of people and dogs, reminiscent of old cave drawings, running along the street. The style and content was so different and unexpected, breaking all the conventions of skate graphics of that time. I still love that deck and have one hanging on my wall today.
I didn’t get started in design until 10 years later when I was 17, but that’s a whole other story.
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?
My path to design is a bit unconventional. I never went to design school and am entirely self-taught. I was a creative kid—spending most of my time drawing, doodling, or sketching, when I wasn’t snowboarding with friends up at Grouse Mountain. During my final year of high school, I participated in a work experience program through my Art Careers course and lucked out with getting a gig at Westbeach Snowboard Canada, working with Chip Wilson. I must have done something right because that summer I was offered a full-time position as their Graphic Designer and I’ve never looked back.
What does a typical working day include for you right now?
I’m new to Cinco, so at the moment I’m working to establish relationships with my co-workers, building my team, and trying to understand how everything works around here—from our internal processes to the work we’re doing for our clients and to the best spots to go for a beer after work. Typically my day would involve a lot of meetings—from client presentations, collaborative brainstorm sessions, or 1-on-1 time with my team.
What qualities and skills do you look for in a graduate?
I’m interested in people who are strong creative and conceptual thinkers. That’s where it all starts—with an idea. If you can take that idea and translate it into well-executed and relevant design then we’re off to a good start. One of the most important things for me is cultural fit. I love working with like-minded people that live and breathe the culture and lifestyle that matches the work we do.
What career advice would you give your 16yr old self?
Learn to be a great writer. A well-written idea can be just as powerful as a good looking one. I’m still figuring this out.
What has been your highlights since you started out?
You’ll never forget seeing your work in the world for the first time. For me, it was seeing a kid wearing a t-shirt I’d designed for Westbeach back in ’95. More recently, I’ve had the opportunity to work as the Creative Director for the SeaWheeze Half-Marathon, held every August in Vancouver. It’s some of the most rewarding work I’ve done, simply because I was able to witness how I can help to create such positive, fulfilling, and transformational experiences for people and their lives.