Mike Spakowski

PTW2019_MIKE_SPAKOWSKI

PARTNER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR, ATOMICDUST, ST. LOUIS MO

More than eighteen years after founding Atomicdust – a branding and design consultancy – Mike Spakowski is actively involved in day-to-day design strategy, art direction and studio management. As Creative Director, his collaborative attitude, drive for design excellence and even-keeled temperament set the tone at Atomicdust. Under Mike’s direction, Atomicdust’s work has been recognized by the One Show, GDUSA, Print Regional Annual, CA, The Dieline, Awwwards, and the American Advertising Federation. Mike is active in the St. Louis AIGA, has chaired St. Louis Design Week since 2013, and coordinates a monthly creative speaking series called Bright & Early. He also sits on the St. Louis Ad Club board as Creative Chair.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?
I was born in St. Louis and now I live in St. Louis.

DID YOU GO TO DESIGN SCHOOL?
No

LEFTY OR RIGHTY?
Righty

MORNING PERSON OR NIGHT OWL?
Totally morning person. I wake up around 5:30 everyday.

FICTIONAL OR HISTORICAL CHARACTER YOU IDENTIFY WITH?
John Henry

ARE YOU MUSICAL AND/OR PLAY AN INSTRUMENT?
No, but I rap along in my car when driving to the office.

FAVORITE BOOK?
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

FAVORITE MOVIE?
Rushmore

FAVORITE TV BINGE WATCH?
Historically, LOST, but the ending betrayed me.

FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM?
Instagram

FAVORITE PODCAST?
Currently Dave Ramsey, but I am also a longtime listener of Design Matters.

FAVORITE FINE ARTIST?
Basquiat – but admittedly, I don’t follow (or know much about) many fine artists.

FAVORITE CHARITY OR CAUSE?
It’s Your Birthday – a St. Louis nonprofit that gives kids that are homeless or living in shelters birthday parties.

FAVORITE FREE TIME ACTIVITY?
I read a lot about business and design, write a little, and hang out with my wife and three sons.

COLLECT ANYTHING?
Just really good stories about running a design business for 18 years.

WHICH AREA OF GRAPHIC DESIGN IS GROWING THE MOST?
The biggest area growing right now is CX (Customer Experience). The areas that grow are the areas that focus on business value.

DESIGN MENTOR/INSPIRATION/HERO?
Paul Rand for business, Charles Eames for vision, Marty Neumeier for branding, Auston Kleon for confidence.

GREATEST STRENGTH/WEAKNESS AS A DESIGNER?
Strength: Making things meaningful to the audience. Weekness: Spelling

ADVICE TO A YOUNG DESIGNER JUST STARTING OUT?
Figure out who you want to be and start making things that move you in that direction. Make a lot of stuff. Create your own momentum. The entire world is made up.

IF YOU WERE NOT A DESIGNER, WHAT WOULD YOU BE?
Miserable – although I would most likely enjoy the pay raise.

A MANTRA OR SAYING YOU LIVE BY?
“Ah, graphic design” is my mantra. Meaning everything in my life, related or unrelated, good or bad, spawned from choosing to pursue graphic design.

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