Juliana Casas, Associate Art Director at Impact Trial
Where do you work and what is your current title?
I’m an Associate Art Director at Impact Trial in New York City.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself & your background.
I started my career in advertising in Colombia. It was a fantastic experience. I was able to be involved in the creative process for some of the largest companies in the country and some of the biggest brands in the world. In 2011, I decided to move to Washington D.C. originally to improve my English and to study animation. However, upon moving to the United States, I discovered what people often call the American Dream. I quickly got a job at Type E Design which allowed me to work on print and digital projects for clients of all sizes and types. I was even hired to design, several political campaigns including one for President Obama.
However, while I was involved in these projects I had the opportunity to work for a company based in New York that works on high stakes legal trials and they offered me a great position in New York City. Could there be a greater opportunity than to live and work in New York? Not for me, so I took the job immediately.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer?
Since I was in middle school I always “designed” and drew pretty much constantly. I never really considered it a career, but more of a hobby. My oldest brother became a designer and through him I discovered that I could actually get paid to do what I enjoyed most. Being able to work on your passion is one of the most amazing gifts you can ever receive.
What was your first design job? Any interesting stories about how you broke into the field?
I began my career in advertising as an intern in an ad agency and they immediately offered me a job. I was so excited as the job was in the biggest city in Colombia – Bogota. Advertising is a crazy environment. Lots of late hours, which is how I developed my current love for strong coffee. But it’s incredibly inspiring when you are able to see your work displayed everywhere. I learned more in that first ad agency than in all my schooling years combined.
Please describe a normal day at your current job. What’s the workflow like? What are your primary responsibilities?
Of course, coffee first!
The kind of design we do now is highly specialized. Different assignments are given to people based on their strengths. For instance we have medical illustrators, 3D modelers and technological specialists. Teamwork is always key. Cases can last weeks and even months; you dedicate yourself to them completely. You study try to understand it and find the best way to communicate it through demonstrations, animations and infographics. Ultimately it’s very important for the jury to understand complicated information.
Are there any memorable war stories, client interactions or close calls that have taught you something important about how things work?
I didn’t know that litigation or legal graphics even existed until I moved to the USA. One day I saw a post that a company needed a designer/illustrator that also knew how to use powerpoint. I thought why not? I can do that and I have the time for a new project. I had my interview next day so I spent the entire afternoon reading and learning how it works. Basically, I said yes first and learned after. I passed the interview and got the project, which I had totally underestimated. I now know that PowerPoint design is equally amazing!
What’s a common mistake you often see entry level designers make? What are some tips to avoid or overcome it?
Go straight to the computer. Knowing design programs doesn’t make you a designer. Sketch! I have 10 years of experience and I still do it. Use all your skills! And go experience art as much as you can. It will fuel your creativity.
Any industry sites or blogs you read on a regular basis, or anything else you read for inspiration?
What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the industry?
Don’t lose yourself in the process. Design is a career that might take a lot of your time; but you still need to pause and make time for yourself so that when you are designing, you enjoy it. Inspiration can come from anywhere, so you don’t have to be looking only at design material to get inspiration. Be humble and learn from others, resources are limitless. For whomever wants to start working on litigation graphics, be patient, not all projects are super fun but you will learn a lot and not only about design.
What do you think is the future of your industry?
There is design in everything. You have so many options on what you can do. I never thought design could be so useful in trials. Litigation graphics is a new but fast growing market and expanding to other countries. Wouldn’t like to be one of the first ones?