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jeffstaple, Staple Design

jeffstaple Interview

It must be an incredible feeling to inspire and influence people without ever knowing you are doing so. Jeff is a humble individual. I might appreciate that most about him. He is the reason I started Left Field Project. Over ten years ago I decided to contact Jeff and so my journey began. It all started with wanting to know what makes him do what he does. I admire Jeff’s unwavering passion and drive, but what intrigues me most is his brand sense. His eye for design is obviously remarkable, but his ability to understand a brand and business and know how to communicate that emotion is unlike any other. He is a mogul. He is an icon.

Did you always want to be a designer?

Nope. I didn’t even really know what design was until college. Growing up, it was scientist or astronaut. Then journalism or writer in college. The finally came upon design and it changed my life. But believe in life, you have to travel a certain path to get where you want to go. Don’t rush the experience.

How do you define success?

Loving what you do everyday and having someone to share it with.

Where do you find inspiration?

Just living life and being an observer of it. I think creative people not only have the ability to put out creative, but more importantly, they have the ability to soak creativity like a sponge. In places normal people don’t look. I cannot explain specifically how that works, but it just happens by itself. But being creative is part of the puzzle. Hard work is most important. “You either get busy living, or get busy dying” was a line from one of my most inspirational films, The Shawshank Redemption. I live my life that way. There is no neutral. You either go forward, or you go backward. Once you stop running, you start losing ground.

How long have you been doing what you are doing?

Since 1997.

Is there anything you had to learn the hard way?

One of the first lessons I learned: You’re only as good as your team. If there’s one bad apple on it, you go down with them.

Best part of your job?

Being able to say that it’s not a “job.”

Who would you like to work with?

My Mother.

Advice for those trying to emerge into your field?

Stay in school.

In your words, who is jeffstaple?

Someone who doesn’t know when to say when. I’m kind of a sadomasochist. A part of me really wants to just relax and chill out. But these ideas just keep wanting to come out of me. I feel like I’m doing myself a true disservice if I don’t at least try to act on them.

What is staple design?

A Positive Social Contagion.
It pretty much encapsulates everything we’re about.
We like to keep things moving forward. Progressive. “Positive.”
Everything we do involves people. Society. “Social.”
And we want to spread that feeling on and on forever. It should be contagious. A “Contagion.”

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

An astronaut. I can still name all the planets and all their respective satellites!

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I never look ahead like that. I honestly feel like it’s not my job to. Those tasks should be left to strategists, forecasters and accountants. My job is really to just make sure that every step we do take, feels good and is in line with our mission statement.

Best advice you could give to someone coming out of college.

Get a job and save your money. Lots of it. If you ever want to start your own thing, you’re gonna need it. Pay off your loans ASAP and NEVER default on your credit cards. But definitely get a job. GET TO WORK!

What do you think of robots?

I have a slight fear of them. I do think those sci-fi movies where they take over mankind is entirely possible.

What is one thing most people would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m lame. Not just a little lame. I am next-level lame.
And I’m not a “nerd” or a “geek”, which is what “cool” people call themselves now in order to sound humble.

Favorite typeface?

This changes on a seasonal basis…currently, I am into Galaxy Polaris.
It’s the typeface we used as the headers on Reed Pages Magazine. I’ll prob get sick of it soon.

What keeps you going?

There are 2 things that keep me going.
One is creativity and inspiration. The amount of creativity that wants to come out of me never ceases to amaze me. I always think, “this must be the last season we do… How can I come up with yet another collection?” But somehow I always manage to do it. It amazes me.
The second is my team. Whenever I feel burnt out, I see the 15-20 people that work for me and I know they count on me and my decisions to keep food on their table and a roof over their head. They’re like my kids. I can’t be selfish and just stop working because I feel like it.
Other lives are at stake now. It’s real.

What is your favorite aspect of your business?

That I am fucking mad proud of what I do. And I know I’m, at least in my own head, one of the best at what I do. *laughing*
It feels good.

How do you stay sharp?

I have no idea. I don’t smoke and drink or do any drugs at all. Maybe that’s it? I honestly believe even though that makes me lame as hell, it puts me on top of the competition.

Through the course of your life, what have you learned about happiness?

That it doesn’t just come from dollar signs.
Although dollar signs help ENORMOUSLY.

Finally, how do you keep everything moving in the right direction and simultaneously cultivating new ideas?

I really don’t know. I wish I could say, “Well if you stretch your body this way in the morning, and then take this root every week, it’ll just happen!” But it’s not like that. A lot of it is listening to yourself. Acting without fear. And never regretting your decisions. Those are broad stroke concepts, but I live by those feelings a lot. Listening to yourself is BIG. I feel like every human has “the answer” inside themselves somewhere. You just have to listen for it.

More jeffstaple:

web: www.stapledesign.com
twitter: @jeffstaple
instagram: @jeffstaple

Photo by: Duane Fernandez

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