This Spring’s Xposed Studio Tour locked in on a single location. One-stop Spring Tours introduce AIGA members to companies sprinkled across the 90+ neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. That’s a lot of ground to cover and studios to explore. Little by little we’re painting an accurate picture of workplaces in our city, instead of focusing solely on those clustered together in areas like downtown (something we tend to leave to Fall Xposed Tours, if that’s more your style). Our host for the evening, Actual Size, showed us their take on agency life in the East End.
The event kicked off with a guided tour that felt as much like walking through a family home as it did a polished office space. Krystal Duke, Designer at Actual Size and AIGA member and volunteer, was our gracious tour guide. She led us through the modern floorplan pointing out landmarks along the way, like the kitchen table where they eat lunch together regularly and conference rooms designated for birthday cakes (OK and calls, too). Clearly, this is a place where they not only create amazing work, they do it collectively in a place that values its people. We got the impression that they’re pros at taking on new tasks and enjoying each other’s company along the way. Krystal confirms: “We actually know each other. We know what’s going on in each others lives. It’s not just heads down working–we’re collaborating and joking, having a good time.”
Already Actual Size had us wanting to pull up a chair… so we pulled up 20 chairs and got down to it. Who they are: branding and digital design agency. What they do: web, motion, print, 3d, branding, and whatever else walks in the door tomorrow. We had the chance to see samples of their work in all those areas, and to hear from the people that designed those projects. But let’s face it, we didn’t come just to see what they do, we were there to be nebby about how they do it. So forgive my lack of detail when it comes to their impressive work (check it out here), but the night’s biggest takeaways came from the Q&A that followed.
Actual Size held a refreshingly open conversation with our students and professionals. We spoke with their creative team about what designers face in and out of the office, like creative burnout and company culture. We’ll leave you with the tidbits that stuck with us, and of course a big thank you the Actual Sizers that talked & toured with us on Thursday, April 18th.
Whatever it is we’ll build it. Know your tools. Trust in your abilities. Be strategic. Figure it out. Be a sponge. Form relationships. Don’t get discouraged. See what fits. Tools are second to thought. Check. Your. Shit.
Joe Shumbat, Creative Director
Elizabeth Casertano, Project Manager
Dylan Devine, Designer
Piper Olsen, Designer
Krystal Duke, Designer
Author: Laura Shirley
Art Director at Jam X Creative
AIGA Member since 2013