Lecturer, Arizona State University
Prescott Perez-Fox, a designer/art director focused on integrated branding, has worked in many of New York City’s top agencies and in-house teams. Now a Lecturer at Arizona State University, he brings his knowledge, passions, and a few hard-fought lessons to the next generation of multidisciplinary designers.
Get to know Prescott
Tell us about a project or accomplishments from the past 10 years that had a major impact on your life or career.
I had the opportunity to work with the NFL’s in-house team on the identity for Super Bowl LII (2018, Minnesota). As a brand project, it’s immensely interesting in that we had to demonstrate local awareness, build off larger cultural trends, predict what the landscape of sports design would look like 15-18 months out, and still deliver something kick-ass. It’s also worth noting that something so big and vast is also meant to have a very short lifespan — one night to most viewers, maybe a week if you were there in person!
What is your favorite color, and why?
Brown. I’m a an earthy, natural guy. There’s plenty of contrast and personality that can be packed within shades of brown. From off-white beige to deep burned hues, it’s versatile.
What keeps you going when you’re focused on a project? Is there a particular saying or song that gets you moving?
It can be hard to find the zone, and I often struggle to start a lengthy or intense session. I like to throw on some mostly-instrumental albums from Santana, Pink Floyd, or Jethro Tull. If I can mark a solid 45 minutes of work — the approximate length of a record — I can often keep the momentum going and finish the task of the day.
What’s your superpower, or one you wish you had?
I’m very good at memorizing and recalling random things. Lines from Shakespeare, quotes from movies, locations of stores, what one person was wearing on a given day, etc. Makes it fun in class when I randomly bring up an ad campaign for Lego from 1987 that only ran in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that I haven’t thought about in 30 years … and yes, it’s on YouTube! In a fantasy, I’d be able to teleport. Cmon, the who hell likes to commute!
What design or career advice would you give to your younger self?
Lately, I tell my students to broadly “do the opposite of everything I did” at their age. First, I wasn’t even studying design, so I had to learn it casually, on my own. Then, I failed to build relationships with classmates and co-workers. I spent a lot of time alone, thought I was hot shit, and failed to attach myself to any sort of mentor. I went freelance far too young and was too grand to take a job I felt was beneath me. From a “wrist-down” skills perspective, I would encourage folks to follow my lead of self-teaching, experimentation, and having side projects, but when it comes to decisions or relationships, I’m a model of how to get it repeatedly wrong.
If you were given the opportunity to see into the future, what would you want to know?
Obviously, I want to know everything about the stock market and business so I can make a cartoonishly large fortune betting on things no one else saw coming.
How do you think design impacts your everyday life? The community?
Some people think that everything we interact with is designed, in the broadest sense. But as I live longer, I see more and more cases of accidental and ad hoc design. Much of what we see daily has never been designed from scratch, taking a holistic approach. Just think about customer service for an airline — you telling me a single person or team came up with every aspect of that clusterfuck? On purpose!
If you hadn’t ended up in the career you are in, what do you think you’d be doing?
I was, quite literally, on my way to becoming a Rocket Scientist, and I thought about going into the Air Force (if not NASA), but these days I can see myself as a carpenter or blacksmith. Everyone needs a medieval profession to fall back on when society crumbles.
Attend Prescott’s breakout presentation “Win From Within: How to Survive and Thrive as an Internal Creative Team” on Sunday, October 13 at the PHXDW Evolve Design Conference.