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David Schuemann is the owner and creative director of CF Napa Brand Design. An expert in brand development and design, he's grown CF Napa over the past ten years into one of the most respected firms in the industry.

Unlike other agencies, that design for a blinding myriad of industries, CF Napa's focus is 100 percent in the alcoholic beverage industry. The result is a roster of clients that includes some of the largest companies in the business (as well as boutique and cult producers) and successful positioning and powerful aesthetics that consistently increase market share and bottom line profits for clients. The studio has reaped international recognition from almost every major design competition, been showcased in numerous books and publications and in the collections of a number of museums.

David lives in Califronia's Napa Valley with his wife, three children and black lab, Pica.


Brainstorms and Collaboration

If you have a degree in what field is it? I have a BFA in graphic design from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire.

Which designer (or design studio), other than yours, do you most admire? This changes all the time... I’m always thirsty for new sources of great design, so the list is long. Right now I like some of the work that Stranger & Stranger is doing.

What’s the strangest request you've received from a client? To create stage props based on Steve Martin’s “King Tut” for a skit our client was doing at a fundraiser. Yes, we did it. The skit was a big hit and they’ve since become one of our largest clients.

If you weren’t working as a designer what would you be doing? I’d either be an architect or a lawyer... it’s a long story.

What well-known identity is most desperately in need of a redesign? Gallo’s Barefoot Wine. Although, with four million cases sold annually, what do I know.

From where do your best ideas originate? The moments just before I fall asleep.

How do you overcome a creative block? Brainstorms and collaboration. If all else fails I move onto something unrelated and let my brain relax and trust that ideas can come from anywhere. The answer often comes while in the middle of doing whatever I’ve moved on to and my subconscious has had the chance to work.

What’s your dream project (not client, but project) ? A limited-edition spirits project that allows for a custom bottle design without the typical budget constraints.

Do you have creative outlets other than graphic design? Yes. I love working in my vineyard; it’s more creative than you might think and making my own wine is my next big adventure.

What’s your approach to balancing work and life? 1. Never, ever work weekends, no matter what the deadline, the client or the budget (it’s our studio policy); and 2. No one ever thinks about their last brochure design on their death bed.

What product/gadget can you not live without? ? My iPhone.

What’s your favorite quote? It’s hard to narrow to one; I have three that have helped shape who I am:

“Good is the enemy of great.” —Jim Collins, Good to Great

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” —Calvin Coolidge

“The harder you work, the luckier you get.” —Gary Player

Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Don’t give up. In my first interview fresh out of school I had a “famous” designer tell me during an interview that I’d never make it and that I should seriously consider another profession. The experience was devastating, but looking back, my portfolio was terrible at the time. I used the experience as a wake up call and went to work making my portfolio better. It ultimately paid off with a really great design position at a record label.

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? The best ideas seldom come while burning the midnight oil.