Inspired by Research, Livin’ on Fun

Lauren Castro smiling

With a desire to help others, our art director Lauren Castro is always ready for a new challenge. From simple layouts to full brand build-outs, her attention to detail and thoughtful designs always helps clients find design love. Her taste for typography and permanently positive attitude are just a few reasons why she’s such a fabulous asset to our team.

SM: What is your role at Rhyme & Reason Design?

LC: I’m the art director and resident fun planner! As art director, I have a mix of roles on the design team– any given day you can find me creating designs for clients, collaborating with team members to push designs further or helping to review work to make sure it is pixel perfect. As fun planner, I am the person who leads and organizes team activities that build culture (team retreats, lunch & learns, happy hours, you name it) or simply getting R&R out there in the creative community (looking at you, dribbble meet-ups).

SM: How did you come across Rhyme & Reason Design?

LC: I used my Gator connections! When I was getting ready to graduate from the graphic design program at UF and start the job hunt in Atlanta, my professor pointed me in Karen’s direction, telling me that there was another UFGD alum in Atlanta that he thought I would hit it off with. So, I proceeded to stalk Karen on LinkedIn, naturally, which took me to the Rhyme & Reason Design website. I really liked what I was seeing, and she and Scarlett appeared so nice and talented (spoiler: it’s true, they are) so I went out on a limb and reached out! Next time I was in town, we grabbed lunch and clicked immediately. We stayed in touch after that, and they actually gave me some freelance work while I was still in school. Closer to my graduation, they didn’t have any job openings, so I ended up going elsewhere, but stayed in touch. After about a year, their previous art director moved, so her spot opened up and I made the switch to R&R!

SM: Tell me about a project that didn’t go as planned.

LC: A lot of projects don’t necessarily go as planned. Projects surprise us all the time, in big and small ways. Gamma Phi Beta was one of those projects that was the best kind of surprise. When I was working on the logos, I was really amped about a lot of the directions I was working on, thinking “Great, I’m nailing it.” When we had a design check-in meeting, I printed out those directions…but I also printed out a page of extra logos that I hadn’t quite polished up yet, just in case there could be something there. It was full of good concepts, but I wasn’t sure that I loved any of them yet. My team encouraged me to keep one of those logos in the mix, and it ended up being the one! Now that we have the entire brand built out, I can’t imagine them having anything else. The whole brand identity is so *them*, and it evolved into a something we are all really proud of.

SM: What is your creative process?

LC: Lots of research to start. We do a ton of research already in our R&R process, and then I like to do even more on top of that. I like to go down internet rabbit holes learning about history, especially. Take cities, for example — there are some things about the city that the CVB might not even know about, and that one little nugget of information could lead to a really cool element in a logo later on! After research, I like to move into sketching. I feel like some people are really good about very detailed sketches, and I am not one of those people. My sketches are scribbles and notes; key words or things I’m thinking of that I need to write down just so I can remember later. My sketches are very loose and unintelligible to anyone other than myself! I pretty quickly move to the computer after that, spending more time “digitally sketching” and flushing out ideas than I do in my sketchbook. I like to call this phase shaking out the ugly — just getting all the bad ideas out of my system, so I can get to those good three or four ideas and start refining.

SM: Where does your inspiration come from for a new design?

LC: Research is my biggest source of inspiration. I know it’s not a glamorous answer, but it’s true! The most interesting ideas come from what we can pull out of the research. It points us in the direction of something different and meaningful, not something that’s just trendy or pretty. It’s leads to beautiful designs that are unique to our clients.

SM: What are your favorite types of design projects to work on?

LC: A full brand build-out is my favorite type of project to work on. A brand is so much more than a logo, it’s all of these pieces combined to create the sensation, the mood, the je ne sais quoi — whatever you want to call it! I like creating the feeling behind the brand. It’s fun to make a logo, but it’s really fun to make a logo PLUS the business system, social media assets, swag…the list goes on. All of the pieces that come together to create a brand identity is what I love and truly geek out about.

SM: What do you enjoy most about being a designer?

LC: This is going to sound so cheesy, but I think my favorite part is just being able to help people in a creative way. I’ve always been a creative person with a helper soul. When I first went to the University of Florida, I was planning on going to dental school to be an orthodontist. A big part of that was the desire to use my talents to help people, fixing smiles so that a person had confidence, because that was really huge for me when I was younger. We’re fortunate at R&R that most of our clients are the nicest, loveliest, most appreciative humans to work with. They are grateful for the work we provide them, and that’s what I really love about it all. Being able to go in and help a client realize their untapped potential or draw in those visitors that didn’t know a place was so cool — those types of projects are so nice and rewarding. Obviously, it’s fun to get paid to make cool things, but big picture, it’s just so rewarding to help people.

SM: How do you know when a design is complete?

LC: Honestly, sometimes you don’t! I think that’s where collaboration and feedback are really helpful and important. Another person can come in, be a little more objective, and say “you’re good, put a bow on it” or “you’re close, push a little further.” I think that’s something that most (if not all) designers struggle with! We constantly ask ourselves “Am I doing enough?” or “Am I overdoing it?” It’s nice to have someone else come in and tell you it’s okay to stop scratching at it. But, on the other hand, there are times when I’m designing a logo and I just KNOW. I walk away from my computer thinking “YES! This is it!” and it’s like boom, mic-drop, walk away and I know that it’s good to go without anyone telling me. It really depends! Every project is different.

SM: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

LC: Atlanta, Georgia of course. That’s why I’m here, right? In a dream world, if I could be anywhere, I would probably pick somewhere in Europe like Barcelona, Spain; somewhere that I could (sort of) speak the language, eat really amazing food, be by the water and be able to travel easily to other cool, new places.