Spotlight on Ben Schwabauer

How do you explain what you do to “regular people?”

I have found it easier to describe final products that they can relate to rather than the process or a specific term. “I design logos, business cards, websites, posters” instead of saying “Graphic design, I help companies build their brand,” etc.

What is your greatest work-related purchase?

While freelancing I started having back problems at the end of the day. Because I had a really cheap office chair. Since I was sitting down most of the day I thought it was worth investing in a good chair. So against any conventional wisdom I went to Herman Miller and bought an Aeron Chair. Now all I need is a neck massager.

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

There isn’t any one specific accomplishment that I can think of. The moments that stand out the most are developing unique solutions to challenging problems. One that comes to mind is the Skyward logo. While working on it I had the tendency to use an icon of the sun with orange colors. But after going through several sketches, hours of thinking, and many variations on the computer I came up with a different solution based on direction that would help them stand apart from their competitors. The logo went on to win a gold Addy which feels like recognition for all the hard work.

Why are you in AIGA?

AIGA provides an incredible opportunity not only for inspiration and great speakers, but also for networking and the chance to give back to younger designers who are just getting started in our field. Years ago it seem that in our region all the agencies/designers kept to themselves. But in this day and age we can all learn from each other which will only help improve our business and service to our clients.

What is your non-work creative outlet?

Photography: I recently started photography just to learn as a skill but now it’s something I extremely enjoy. Especially enjoy taking photos of animals, which I’ve always been fascinated by. Once I used a micro lens to take a picture of a spider (unbeknownst to me it was a “redbacked jumping spider”) as it was spinning around while raising it’s front two legs. “Is it spinning a web or dancing?” I thought to myself as I snapped away in a state of pure joy.

Reading books

Watching movies. There is something unique about video and movies that communicate a story, message, or even issues that characters wrestle with. I tend to think through a movie, seeing if there are any loop holes or how it could have been better. I can easily get sucked into the History, Discovery, and Military channels, especially anything related to warfare. I’ve been known to spend hours reading on military battles, weapons, etc.

Outside the typical ones (dog, cat, fish, lizard), what office pet would you like to have around?

That’s a tough question, I’ve always loved foxes, they seem to move so gracefully and look so cool. But the ultimate office pet would be a trained hawk or owl that could deliver notes and documents to other employee’s throughout the office. And, of course, fetch a Snickers bar from the snack tray from time to time.

By Kelty Brittle
Published December 14, 2010