Sam, I am.
I’m a lateral thinker with a great eye for detail and 10 years experience working as a graphic designer in South Africa. I enjoy creating beautiful, immersive and captivating stories. Telling them visually gets me excited. I bring these stories to life using a variety of mediums – art direction, interface & user experience design, and editorial & publication design.
Words that I live by:
Impactful design is like creating a beautiful language and speaking it with love and intent.
Growing up as an art kid
I was born and raised living the simple life on a commercial grain farm in the Overberg district on the Southern-most tip of Africa. I enjoy traveling to beautiful places with rich cultures, watching cheesy talent shows and reading about real human suffering.
Once my favourite hobby and merely a form of creative expression, art & design have become my full time occupation. I have a superhero mother who showed me the power of art from the moment I could hold a crayon by joining me on the carpet for relentless colouring-in.
Mother bear ensured that I attended art, violin, drama and even singing classes throughout my schooling, driving up to 100kms for a class when it didn’t form part of the usual school curriculum. Continuously honouring my talents is my way of showing her gratitude and respect for what she planted in me.
This lead to my studies at the University of Stellenbosch, where I finished my honours degree in Visual Communication Design in 2009. Least of all, it formed the basis of my professional career. On top of that, the time spent on campus gifted me with friends of like mind and soul, whom I can now call family.
Finding someone to pay me for what I love doing
I’m currently employed as Head of Design at Arc SA, a member of the Publicis Groupe, a French multinational advertising and public relations company, the oldest and one of the largest marketing and communications companies in the world, headquartered in Paris.
The Arc SA office is located in Harrington Street, Cape Town, where I am now fully rooted. Arc is a data insights-driven, below the line, integrated communications agency that specialises in customer relationship management, shopper loyalty and direct marketing.
I joined Arc as a mid-weight art director in 2013 and have since been promoted twice. While working at Arc, I can truly say that I have found my tribe. I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with dedicated, kind-hearted and immensely talented people.
My responsibilities at Arc include developing and managing all aspects of the design output. I’m accountable for the online and offline design output and commercial success of the design department. I ensure design deliverables are aligned to client expectations and within existing brand guidelines. A big challenge is to influence design-led thinking across the agency.
I’ve had the pleasure of working on great local and international brands such as Sanlam, Direct Axis, Adidas, Reebok, Virgin Active, City of Cape Town, BMW & MINI, Toyota, MARS (Royco, Orbit & M&Ms), Nestlé and Protea Hotels.
Things that keep me up at night
Art direction for advertising agencies:
- Creating and maintaining the look and feel of all marketing material, ensuring clients’ briefs are visually engaging and that the selling message is clear.
- This ranges from traditional print ads, apps and websites and outdoor media to social media marketing and customer journeys for emails (CRM).
- Collaborating with copywriters to ideate, brainstorm and develop concepts.
- I have an affinity for teamwork, strong ideation capabilities, insight into marketing strategies and advanced computer skills.
User experience and user interface design (UI/UX):
- Gathering and evaluating user requirements, in collaboration with brand managers and developers.
- Drawing up design ideas using scamps, process flows and sitemaps.
- Designing user interface elements, adhering to brand style standards.
- Fleshing out page navigation and search fields.
- Developing user interface mockups and prototypes that clearly illustrate how sites function.
- Identifying user experience problems (e.g. responsiveness).
- I pride myself on my team spirit and I have strong communication skills which helps me to collaborate effectively.
Editorial design & layout, typesetting and book design:
- Designing the aesthetics of books, newspapers, magazines and online publications, from the inside pages to the cover.
- Publications include anything from large coffee table books, annual reports, corporate documentation to typesetting novels and text books.
- Working closely with the publisher and author to ensure the look and feel reflects the content and tone of the publication.
- Knowing of cost of materials and printing techniques.
- Possessing great collaboration skills with production managers and printers, ensuring the final print meets specifications.
Have a project in mind?
I encourage creative collaborations of all kinds. Please feel free to contact me via any of my social media channels or email me at hello at samvanstraaten dot com.
View my professional CV here if you’re a recruiter (or just a stalker).