Mike Russell

Discover Flagstaff

Mike has built a career in Flagstaff, Arizona as a freelancer and in-house designer for the last 20 years. In addition to graphic design, Mike has worked in web design, photography and social media. As the president of a local marketing group, Mike has given several talks on business building. 


Get to know Mike

Tell us about a project or accomplishments from the past 10 years that had a major impact on your life or career.
My personal greatest accomplishment is serving as the president on the board of a local marketing organization called Communicators. It is where I saw that others could benefit from not just my graphic capabilities but also respected me as an individual, and look to me for ideas and leadership.

What is your favorite color, and why?
Yellow. As a primary color, it is one of the three strongest colors, although its power is in its ability to be neutral, laid-back. You sometimes don’t even recognize the powerful statement it is making. 

What keeps you going when you’re focused on a project? Is there a particular saying or song that gets you moving?
The best productive music is the kind that works well as background music. Moby served as the ultimate background music for a while. Recently, I am more into Incubus and similar ’90s rock bands.

What’s your superpower, or one you wish you had?
My superpower would most likely be endurance. I tend to stick through, while I’ve seen friends and colleagues move on. This could also be seen as a weakness, but isn’t that the case for all superpowers?

What design or career advice would you give to your younger self?
Do what you want to in design, don’t let your clients, bosses or colleagues steer you to what they think design is.

If you were given the opportunity to see into the future, what would you want to know?
Nope, not going there. We already spend way too much time worrying, anticipating and projecting. The future is based on what we do now, today. We need to spend more time focusing on what we are doing today to build the future we want.

How do you think design impacts your everyday life? The community?
I think design has a profoundly large influence over us. It steers us, motivates us and cultivates us. The business world is constantly assaulted with templates, outsourcing and crowd-sourced logos. As designers, we have to stand for what we believe in to fight the waves of design mediocrity.

If you hadn’t ended up in the career you are in, what do you think you’d be doing?
I would be stuck in the restaurant industry where I left off, thinking I was growing by climbing the corporate ladder, or maybe owning my own restaurant business. Either way, I would be coming home smelling like food every day.

Attend Mike’s breakout presentation “Design Systems: Designing Digital Products at Scale” on Saturday, October 12 at the PHXDW Evolve Design Conference.