At the Office - The Design Team

By Christina Sims

Hi everyone! It's been a busy Summer, but with convention season winding down, I think now is a good time to shed some spotlight on Cryptozoic's Graphic Design team. The awesome people who make up the Graphic Design team are this company's unsung heroes. After all, they do some amazing stuff for us, and it's time to give them the attention that they deserve!

I got a chance to talk to each member of the Graphic Design team. Take a look below to learn about the people who help make our products look amazing!


Name:
Marco Sipriaso

Official Title:
Graphic Designer

"Preferred Title": 
Chubbz (I have a love/hate relationship with french fries) 

Without giving away too many tasty spoilers, what's a day like in the life of a member of the art department at Cryptozoic?:
When I first get into the office, I'm usually responding to e-mails, checking the status of current projects, and getting a little food in me. Once I get all the general office things taken care of, I usually turn on some music (or a podcast) and jump right back into the creative process with our products. Our days are really busy in the Creative Department but I usually stop periodically to take a look around at various websites for design inspiration and to see what's going on in the creative world. It's really important to take the time to breathe and refuel the mind. Also, I usually heckle the other designers three or four times throughout the day... usually until they throw something at me.

What kind of training does it take to do what you do?: 
Each of us have design degrees and many years of experience. As a group we cover 50+ years of experience. I have worked in various design environments ranging from internships, freelance, small design firms, to the large corporate creative departments. Each experience has given me a chance to grow as a designer and bring that knowledge and expertise to the next experience. As far as programs go, I spend tons of hours in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. To this day, my design process still begins with research and sketching on paper before taking it to the computer.  

The Design department is rumored to be the healthiest department at Cryptozoic. What do you do to stay active/for fun?: 
LOL! I try to stay as active as possible. When I'm not at work, I'm usually snowboarding, running, or doing something active. In October, I'm going to participate in my first Ragnar Relay. It's a 200-mile team relay from the Las Vegas Ski Resort to Lake Mead over a two-day period. I'm really excited and scared out of my mind as well.

What's your favorite project you've ever worked on at CZE?:
That's a touchy one, honestly. If I had to pick one, it would probably be the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game's Worldbreaker Block (Set 13-15). We had a chance to revamp the look of the card frame system. There was a lot of work done to the frames and we introduced a bunch of new icons to the set. We worked really close with the good folks at Blizzard Entertainment to ensure that everything was inline visually with the Cataclysm expansion and Azeroth as a whole.


Name:
John Vineyard

Official Title:
Graphic Designer

"Preferred Title":
Boxmaster

Without giving away too many tasty spoilers, what’s a day like in the life of a member of the art department at Cryptozoic?:
I usually get up and do stretches, then I come in and go through the to do list and immediately get to work. I have all sorts of distractions, such as Matt Hoffman wheeling and dealing over here. When lunchtime rolls around, I go get tacos at El Pollo Loco and then get back to it. All the while, I keep it real with the designers. I also provide encouragement to the younger people like Nancy. 

What kind of training does it take to do what you do?:
We mostly use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. We do mostly print-related stuff in our graphics. We all have graphic design degrees; I went to the University of Texas. 

The art department is rumored to be the healthiest department at Cryptozoic. What do you do to stay active/for fun?:
We are! I do all sorts of stuff, but I do have the sweetest tooth in the art department. I play soccer and surf and do the occasional horseback riding. Larry and I wrestle sometimes and he makes fun of my pot-belly and feeds me blueberry pancakes.

What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on at CZE?:
Food Fight. I did the graphics for that, so it's certainly my favorite. 


Name:
Larry Renac

Official Title:
Graphic Designer

"Preferred Title":
Mochi Fingers

Without giving away too many tasty spoilers, what's a day like in the life of a member of the art department at Cryptozoic?:
Hectic. We're a very small department that turns out mountains of work in tiny time-frames. We seem to only work on projects that were due weeks in the past. But a good day consists of designing card frames for The Walking Dead Trading card sets, packaging for the upcoming DC Comics Deck-Building Game, and a banner ad for Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre (the most badass game ever).

What kind of training does it take to do what you do?:
Professionally you need expertise in all the Adobe computer graphics products (Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign) as well as a basic understanding of printing. Specifically to Cryptozoic, you need to be able to work under extreme pressure and tight deadlines. The content of what we work on is fun, but we work our tails off to make sure it all gets out the doors on time.

The art department is rumored to be the healthiest department at Cryptozoic. What do you do to stay active/for fun?:
I stay out of the sun and stare at a computer monitor all day. Oh, I also try to drink water instead of soft drinks. From time to time, the design department likes to take turns having tickle fights and chasing each other around the Cryptozoic parking lot.

What's your favorite project you've ever worked on at CZE?:
Probably Epic Spell Wars. This was entirely a Cryptozoic creation so we were free to do whatever we wanted. Working with the illustrations of Nick Edwards was super fun. You're a jerk if you don't own this game. Seriously.


Name: 
Amanda Vidad

Official Title: 
Junior Designer

"Preferred Title": 
The Little One

Without giving away too many tasty spoilers, what's a day like in the life of a member of the art department at Cryptozoic?:
Turning my computer on, checking e-mails, and figuring out what kind of work I have to do that day. A lot of the time I write out a priority list to keep everything sorted out. Plus, it feels great to cross something off after a few hours of staring at a screen. Much of my time is spent pushing pixels, making beautiful necks, and making things disappear like they were never there!

What kind of training does it take to do what you do?: 
Lots of time in front of the computer. Learning the programs is the first big hurdle, and the second is actually knowing how to use them to your advantage. Reading, writing, and looking at what others are doing is a really big part of it. One skill you need for really big projects is knowing how to "build your deck" of what you know, what's out there, and what you can do. It's a long process, but it's well worth it.

The art department is rumored to be the healthiest department at Cryptozoic. What do you do to stay active/for fun?: 
Hahaha! It may not be considered active, but I try to get enough sleep every night and run to the car in the morning to get to work on time. But seriously, I just like walking to places and doing the occasional yoga. 

What's your favorite project you've ever worked on at CZE?: 
Something super secret, but has to do with cards and a box. It's my favorite project since it's my first chance to work on something big. There's been a lot of critique and changing of directions, but I love it. It's lots of time staring at my screen and accumulating a ton of stress, but it's great.


Name: 
Nancy Valdez

Official Title: 
Associate Graphic Designer

"Preferred Title": 
WidowMaker (nickname)

Without giving away too many tasty spoilers, what's a day like in the life of a member of the art department at Cryptozoic?: 
Every day is usually busy. If I'm not working on revisions for trading cards, I'm building mock-ups for trade shows, responding to emails, archiving our past projects, and the list can go on forever. But I always look forward to our "Snack Time" which takes place at 3pm every day.  

What kind of training does it take to do what you do?:  
A good knowledge of the programs is extremely helpful, such as Photoshop, InDesign & Illustrator. Although, having fun being creative is the ultimate key in doing what we do. We love design which makes our job fun. 

The art department is rumored to be the healthiest department at Cryptozoic. What do you do to stay active/for fun?:
I look forward to Fridays when the Cryptozoic team gets together to play soccer in the back parking lot. Outside of work, I like to take walks, go running when I'm not too tired, and I go to art galleries and bookstores.

What's your favorite project you've ever worked on at CZE?: 
It's hard to pick a favorite but if I had to choose, building mock-ups for trade shows. I love the fact that it's a hands-on project. 


Thanks again to the Design team for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer my questions. You all rock!

-Christina