What do you do for a living?

I get this question asked all the time. Even from long time friends. I guess I've always just assumed people know what I do. Because I'm putting myself out there in the design world again, and I'm using goodnessgracious as my point of contact, this post might come in handy for new business prospects. Or just those curious and question, who does she think she is? ;)

Firstly, you can find my resume and lots of work samples HERE. Its where i house my work and direct new clients to see samples, its a bit banal and lacking in commentary. My resume can be found HERE.

This blog you are reading is where I like to write, post photos, get personal, rant. My other major passion is animals. And I have plenty to say about them.

I work in the advertising and design industries. I am what they call an art director or designer. Art direction encompasses everything you see in an ad or TV spot, web site, web banner, signage, billboards, poster at your grocery store, packaging for products, etc. We flesh out the strategy. Anything that is selling you something, an art director has created in some form or another. The photography, the logo, the illustrations, the organization of it all, etc. We come up with the idea, take the client requests and make it come to life. Create it, organize it, shoot it, draw it, hire it, and then put IT all together thru the use of design. So that whatever IT is will be purchased by you.

A good example is an ad in a magazine, there can be 10 people or more involved in putting that ONE ad together. The art director is the bottle neck from where everything creative begins and ends. They hold the creative strings together. A bad ad? blame the art director. A great ad? credit the CD. (inside joke).

The exciting change in recent years for me, as a single proprietor, is that I'm also the designer, production artist, art director, account service, sometimes copywriter, CD, and so on. There are still things I can't or won't do. I can shoot small product shots, or illustrate. but I still hire the best I can find to execute on a grander scale. I can write headlines and snippets of copy, but usually hire a copywriter. I can design a website, but hire to implement it. It's enjoyable to put on many hats. But still, things like media placement, press releases, copywriting, photoshop retouching, programming, will defer to others.

milano.design takes on all kinds of projects, identity, branding, collateral, brochures, newsletters, ads, website design, Invitations, etc. All things a business needs to grow. And doing this for years has given me the ability to be strategic, quick, and efficient. Plus, I have what I'd call "sweat equity". If i can't help you, I know someone that can.

As for history, I started out working in the studio of (at the time) the largest ad agency in the South. Beber, Silverstein and Partners. I've worked in all the large creative shops in Miami (Some defunct. Some still thriving), moving up the ladder from studio to jr. to sr. art director, to CD, positions. Tinsley Advertising, Turkel Advertising -- are just two great creative shops where I've worked. I was hired under some great Creative Directors. Ed McCabe, being the most famous. Bruce Turkel. Larry Spector. Russ Slaughter. And so on. I added it up. 15 CD's I've learned from over the years. The wisdom learned from them is immeasurable.

The Creative director is the "heart" of the agency. Art directors are their arms, minds, and legs. At times, I was the CD on smaller accounts and always felt that extremely rewarding. And reap the benefits of that today. When starting out 20 years ago, it was all men in these positions and I always aspired to be the only "girl" art director in this market. There've been smatterings around town but yet still not enough. Look back in history and the greats glorified in this industry are men. (Ever watch Mad Men? what about 30 something?)

Design didn't spark my interest till later, when I started executing my own work. When computers became an everyday occurence. I started out wanting to be concept queen, I'm ending up being a design slave. Love of design stemmed from art directing and having a vision but only I could put it together. Or, I was too low on the totem pole to work with another designer. Or the idea wasn't so hot TILL it was designed in such a way and brought it to life. Once design took hold I was hooked.

There is a difference between the art director and designer. An art director doesn't care so much about what type is used. Just use one that works in the concept. A designer on the other hand, could spend hours, days searching thru thousands of fonts to find that perfect one that says it all.

Today, the lines are blurred. Art directors were the idea people partnered with copywriters. Designers would put the ideas to paper. I can be hired in one or the other capacity. If a client knows exactly what they want, has all the photos lined up, their copy written, then i'm just the designer that puts it all together. Makes it pretty. Makes it graphically efficient and helps the clients idea come thru. The client in this instance has now become the CD.

Over the years, I've acquired over 40 awards in the industry (maybe more). From local to national ADDY's, a Clio, print industry awards, and various others I can't remember and should have kept track. But didn't. Because the way it was, your only as good as your last project. And awards meant nothing. But really everything. If you won lots of awards that year, but the project you were working on tanked? you sucked. It was that fickle.

Except when you are looking for your next job. But once hired? Never to be discussed again.

A word to the wise, always search for a new job AFTER the Addy awards, and after you win big that year. :)

Jumping to the present... Here I sit in my new office at home, looking out the window at my horses, goats, and chickens who are fighting for a place in the sand pit. Working on a Sunday for a project due tomorrow. An agency that contacted me on Friday, hoping I could pick up the slack and get it done by Monday. This is where alot of my work comes from.

Agencies are always in need of good, but not always in need of full time.And this is what my new strength is-- a pinch hitter, a ghost. And with so much experience comes confidence, speed, etc. I can jump in easily to help on various levels. Small agencies who can't afford a 20 year veteran on staff will hire one on a short term basis. As a freelancer in this capacity, I can offer solid creative, on target, without the big salary, perks, or benefits that can weigh down a smaller company.

I am a company to my clients. I am a freelancer to the agencies. Everyone involved benefits from this three way. Its fun this way. It never gets old. It's always a pleasure. And always a challenge. It's also strategic. I'm happiest for that. Client is happy. Agency is happy. Animals are happy!


  1. Wow! what beautiful work!! Those all look wonderful. I took design for one semester in college (I thought I wanted to be an illustrator) but immediately switched to a studio major. I'm very impressed with your work.

  2. :) Thank you for the compliment. and thanks for the visit.



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