Welcome to Downtown Design, a column that will focus on the graphic design of downtown Phoenix and bring awareness to the talented designers that we have living and working among us.

Take a look around as you stroll down the streets of Downtown Phoenix and you’ll quickly notice that there’s no way to avoid design. From our historic architecture to the brand new signage guiding you through town, every inch of our space is designed.


Graphic designers are the “silent artists.” The work they do is everywhere, yet rarely do they get to place their signature on a piece, or even receive credit in a byline. Sometimes they feel like they are simply a tool for someone else’s use in creating their vision, and sometimes that’s true – most often at the beginning of their careers. But most of the time, they take their clients’ ideas and direction and distill it to reflect the intended message using typographical treatments, photography, color, and format.

But graphic design goes much further than “art.” Graphic designers come armed with an arsenal of knowledge and connections, along with a keen business savvy, memorized fontbank, and extensive color theory. Designers must also be knowledgeable in many areas including psychology, engineering, printmaking, fabrication, advertising, marketing, coding, proofreading, and so on.

Beyond their own skills, they often draw from a reserve of allied professional resources, like photographers, coders, filmmakers, sound engineers, printers, tech support, publishers, editors, and even lawyers.

Graphic design on the historic Bayless Grocery building in downtown.

Graphic design elements on the historic Bayless Grocery building in downtown.

Of all artistic disciplines, I’ve personally found graphic design to yield the most opportunities to work in an array of fields. My career has taken me from animation to fashion, to music to Fortune 100 corporate. The constant in each industry is that they all need graphic design.

A company can create an incredible product, yet, without the proper identity and brand, it’s going to be a hard sell. How often have you chosen one type of food at the grocery store over another simply because of the packaging? Maybe you don’t even realize it’s the packaging that’s appealed to your subconscious. That’s the “ghost artist’s” handiwork. An ingredient list doesn’t offer a story – great packaging does.

With Downtown Design, we will explore graphic design, from slick corporate design to sign painters delicately designing store windows. We will also post opportunities available for graphic designers and a calendar of events and competitions, which we would love to see one of our very own win! You are also invited to share any news of your own graphic design work at rhonda@downtownphoenixjournal.com. Let’s connect our graphic design community here through DPJ’s Downtown Design. 


AIGA AZ Event Dinner with Designer: Marissa Groom & Ryan Anderson—August 31, 2015

AIGA AZ Event: CreatAthon Phoenix 2015—September 12-September 13, 2015

AIGA Design Conference 2015 New Orleans—October 8-October 10, 2015

HOW Poster Design Awards—DEADLINE October 2, 2015


Images courtesy of Rhonda Zayas