Meet Justin Barber: Designer Specializing in Branding and Identity

In the spirit of giving back, and our desire to support local businesses and artists, we are doing an artist spotlight series. We will be showcasing a new artist each day for the next 31 days. Today’s artist is Justin Barber a designer specializing in branding and identity.

Justin Barber was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan – but currently located in Atlanta, Georgia – Justin is a freelance graphic designer who specializes in branding and identity. His work has been recognized by Apple, Behance, and International Designers Network, among others.

Truth and Lies Alarm Clock

Truth and Lies Alarm Clock

Question: How did you get into design?
Justin’s Answer: The simplest answer I can provide is that I truly believe God created me to design, I didn’t ”get” into design as much as I was ”born” into it. But It wasn’t really until the end of my junior year of high school that I realized that what I enjoyed doing actually had a name – ”graphic design” – and there were jobs for people who did it. As I realized this I began to look back at my life and suddenly so many moments made sense. There were the little things I didn’t understand the significance of before, like the fact that I remember the exact moment in time that I first saw the Tennessee Titans logo (they were playing the Browns on TV) and the Turn Winter Olympics logo (my mom was watching CNN) – I was six years old then – and those split second moments are forever seared into my brain. And then there were the more obvious things that I still didn’t make sense of, like the fact that I designed a monthly, 30 page sports magazine for my friend in 5th grade or that I never drew pictures when I was little but instead I drew advertisements and product brochures. Hindsight is 20/20, but in this case I felt like it was X-Ray vision, the path was so clear.

Truth and Lies Brb

Truth and Lies Brb

Once I had experienced that kind of epiphany, I really started to intentionally throw myself into design. I was learning as much as I could off the internet and that was when I made the decision that if I wanted to major in graphic design I should go all in by going to art school for it. My senior year of high school I spent building my portfolio for college applications and I felt like that was a really great time of exploration and learning that kind of set the foundation for my self motivation and desire for design.

Question: Where are you from, where did you go to school?
Justin’s Answer: My parents were missionaries in Japan for over twenty years, so I was born and raised in Japan. From fourth grade through high school graduation my family was in Tokyo, so even though my passport says USA on the front I consider Japan home. My parents moved from there a couple of years ago so I went through a mini identity crisis (again…) but Japan is still home even though I will never go ”home” there again. I currently go to Savannah College of Art and Design and I’m in my third and final year, I worked it out so I could graduate an entire year early and I can’t wait to be done.

Question: What are your tools of the trade?
Justin’s Answer: I’m on a 13” MacBook Pro which is in desperate need of a memory upgrade. I use Muji pens and notebooks with a Dr. Grip mechanical pencil (but the cool kind from Japan). I get a buzz that I suspect a lot of people experience with drugs when I work in Illustrator – until a better alternative comes along that’s where hours of my life are spent. To improve Illustrator I use AstuteGraphic plugins which are great, they really streamline the workflow of tasks that would take a lot of time otherwise. Unfortunately I have to use Photoshop when projects call for it and of course InDesign. I use TeuxDeux for organizing my client/homework/life schedule and Google Keep to maintain random thoughts/notes. As far as software goes, JiTouch is harnesses the power of gesture controls and is another reason I love the trackpad, and Xtra Finder makes life a lot easier by better organization/flow of file structure.

Truth and Lies I Promise I Won't Tag You

Truth and Lies I Promise I Won’t Tag You

Question: What websites do you go to for design inspiration?
Justin’s Answer: Designspiration, Allan Peter’s blog, dribbble, ffffound, behance, the dieline, swiss miss, design work life, grain edit, from up north, FPO, design you trust, my modern met, the fox is black, abduzeedo, Brand New.

Question: What is your favorite movie, band, and artist?
Justin’s Answer: My favorite movie is definitely Thank You for Smoking – the scene where Nick Naylor is sharing ice cream with his son and shows him how persuasion works is fantastic. The Social Network is a close second though, the performances and writing are incredible. As far as music goes I listen to a ton of stuff, but in general I list my two favorites as Jack Johnson and Lupe Fiasco. I have a lot of favorite designers but I’d say that maybe three of the most influential to me or that I kind of discovered first so I feel a special connection to them is Allan Peters, Dan Cassaro, and Richie Stewart (Commoner Inc).

Question: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Justin’s Answer: I think it would be a cool experience to be able to kind of travel through Europe and hit a bunch of sites. Australia is definitely on the list as well.

Question: When you’re not designing, what do you like to do?
Justin’s Answer: Spending time with my girlfriend is number one, and I keep in regular contact with the rest of my family spread out through various time zones. I enjoy a few TV shows (Parks and Rec is my all time favorite, Modern Family, Community, Suits) and watch a lot of NBA. I keep up with the NFL and college football too but I keep to watching only my favorite team in each sport and stick to highlights for the rest. I used to take naps a lot, but my schedule now doesn’t really allow for it which is a sad thing. But essentially when I’m not designing I like to look at design. I’m just so immersed in love for design that a lot of what I do for fun is still design.

Question: If you could meet anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Justin’s Answer: I don’t think I have like a specific person, but I’d definitely like to meet all of my design heroes, I think that talking with (and by that I mean listening to) Steven Heller would be an incredible experience. I’d love to meet Steve Nash, too.

Question: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in design?
Justin’s Answer: Know what’s going on and how you fit in. I wrote a post on Medium called “The State of Student Design in which I basically make the case that relevance is so important in this field and without it you’re pointless. You, your work, your knowledge can’t exist in a vacuum, you have to be aware of the context in which you are active in and how what you’re doing is applicable. I also wrote 15,000 words of advice on freelancing for students which is available as a free download at tothepointguide.com which essentially covers a lot of the advice I have learned from experience.

A Few of Justin’s Logo Designs

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A Couple of Justin’s Packaging Designs

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See more of Justin’s designs and art at his website.

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