Feature Friday: Rich Johnson

Traditionally trained as an art educator, this local creative has been pouring that same soul into his work and the design community since the ’90s. Rich Johnson continues to be inspired by the foundations of art while enjoying the exciting new technologies that allow design to be presented in new ways. His love for the arts, originality and humor are large part of what he contributes to the latest generation of artists and designers. We are proud to feature his insights on this week’s Feature Friday post.

Feature Friday Rich Johnson

Who are you, what do you do & where?

Rich Johnson, Creative Director of Public Relations at the Masonic Villages of Pennsylvania

How long have you been in the field?

I’ve been working as a graphic designer since 1997.

Where did you go to school? What for?

I went to Millersville University for Art Education, graduated in 1996.

What important milestones do you credit to getting to where you are now?

I had always worked in computer graphics from back when you had to program to illuminate each pixel and draw shapes with math equations on Commodores. I started using Photoshop in 1994 in place of Aldus software and I took photo compositing out of the dark room and into digital composites. In 1996 I taught my first lecture in Adobe Illustrator at Lebanon Valley College and started into the emerging digital graphic design field. This eventually led to opportunities to teach for national training companies and partner with Adobe while learning the ropes of professional design on the job. The adventure and newness of the medium made it exciting as we moved from the old paste up/photographic methods into digital layout, web design, animation. In graphic design everything is constantly changing and improving which is a teacher/learners dream. There’s always something better on the horizon.

What made you get involved with AIGA? Why should someone be a member?

I came to AIGA looking for my tribe of designers to become inspired and share ideas.

I think designers should become members to inspire and get inspired, find humor in the challenges and devise grand schemes to make everything better. Online forums don’t do it for me, I like to keep it real and be in the scene.

What advice do you have for young, practicing designers?

For starting designers I always suggest filling your portfolio with pro bono work so that you can have the best examples of your style that hasn’t been “designed by committee” or demented by client tastes. Once in the field, keep a personal creative flow to keep your inspiration… anything creative, it’s all connected. And, keep an intrinsic love for the fundamentals of art in everything you do.

What’s your favorite part of the job?

Creative problem solving. Anything is possible.

Tell us about Masonic Villages.

Masonic Villages is part of a charitable spectrum of entities supported by the Freemasons of Pennsylvania. There are 5 Masonic Villages in Pennsylvania. Under that umbrella they also have a children’s home, special needs facilities, health care services and a charitable development team. In public relations we act as an embedded agency supporting all promotional and branding needs for the state in addition to the traditional roles of public relations.

Anything else you’d like us to know?

I still think the best design starts with a pencil and paper.

Published December 18, 2015
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