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Director of creative services Mike McCanna has led the creative department at RedPeg Marketing in Alexandria, Virginia since its launch in 1995. As one of the pioneers in experiential design, Michael has watched the landscape change from two dimensional projects to full on multi-sensory branding experiences. Over the past decade he's led strategic branding, print and experiential designs that have garnered awards and created emotional connections between brands and their consumers. Michael has three sons and he's an avid painter.

01.11.11

Turn Up The Volume And Power Through

If you have a degree in what field is it? I have a degree in fine arts from the University of Maryland.

Which designer (or design studio), other than yours, do you most admire? I admire other artists, mostly painters, Michelle Torrez, Malcom Liepke and Wayne Thiebaud.

What’s the strangest request you've received from a client? I once had to design a 3-D brochure wearing 3-D glasses.

If you weren’t working as a designer what would you be doing? It would be a job that involves creating … a painter, chef or maybe a musician.

What well-known identity is most desperately in need of a redesign? The Sears logo is a living representation of a once proud brand that failed to recognize the market changing around it. I’d like to redesign everything from the logo to the customer experience.

From where do your best ideas originate? Book stores, grocery stores, magazines, my home studio, anywhere there's visual stimuli attacking me.

How do you overcome a creative block? I usually step away from the project and start a new one that’s different; if I can’t because the project is too hot, then I get a large coffee, turn up the volume and power through it.

What’s your dream project (not client, but project)? I’d like to design album covers—with gatefold covers and separate designs for the sleeves. Too bad that art form has passed.

Do you have creative outlets other than graphic design? I have a home studio where I paint, draw and do random odd projects; it’s a balance I’ve always had as a designer and it enables me to step away from the computer.

What’s your approach to balancing work and life? I have a wife and three sons and I can honestly say that I’m still trying to figure this one out. Not working on Saturdays is my latest attempt.

What product/gadget can you not live without? iPhone, coffee and sunglasses (I have a long ride to work).

What’s your favorite quote? “Enjoy yourself (It’s Later Than You Think)” —Prince Buster

Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Be an artist first, a designer second and a professional always.

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? The technical side of production; many pieces and experiences can be won or lost at this final stage.