When people hear the word “library” a few things typically come to mind; namely Librarians and books. But the Library is run by people working in many different roles. They’re all helping community members with much more than book recommendations. Our series Spend a Day with a Library Worker takes you inside the lives of Library staff in different roles and follows them on a typical workday.
It’s Wednesday at 9:30 am and the Marketing Team is gathered around the office cutting table for “Green Table Talk”. Green Table Talk (a nod to Jada Pinkett-Smith, her daughter Willow, and her mother Adrienne’s popular Red Table Talk, opens a new window Facebook Watch show) is the brainchild of Graphic Designer Simon Shakespeare. It’s a weekly meeting where the Marketing Department and Graphic Design Team can come together to discuss successes and challenges and reflect on ways to innovate.
Innovation and community are at the heart of Simon’s work as a graphic designer. One of his favorite aspects of his job is waking up every day designing for a purpose in a community that he loves, impacting all demographics for the purpose of learning and achieving. Not many people get to say they do that on a daily basis.
When it comes to the day-to-day, each one brings new projects and challenges. “Every day is a new day; that's how I see it,” says Simon. “There's always something new or more information that we want to get out to the community, so I don't really have a typical day. I always try to take a moment to think about my family (my wife and my two toddler boys) because they are my muse for most of my projects. Designing with them in mind allows me to think outside the box, with diversity and impact at the forefront.”
Whether he’s working on the design and development of a new exhibit in the Downtown Main Library, Branch Library event program elements like posters, banners, digital signs, and social media ads, or working on branding for various system-wide Library initiatives, Simon’s day rarely comes with a dull moment. Some days that means folding 500 Library announcement cards. Other days it means printing a vinyl banner, cutting signage to a certain size, or spending the day in Adobe Creative Suite creating new designs.
“I think one of the biggest challenges in my job is seeing how the community embraces my design elements and materials,” he says. “One thing that keeps me going is seeing heartfelt pictures in cards from our customers.” Such thank you notes come to the Marketing Department fairly frequently, as well as from Library partners and organizations.
One of Simon’s favorite projects he’s worked on recently was for the Library’s on-going LevelUp campaign. It involves programming, events, resources, partnerships, and materials all aimed at connecting Cincinnatians with steady, well-paying jobs. In May, the Library hosted Career Advancement Month, opens a new window with pop-up resources in the Atrium of the Downtown Main Library. Folks could stop by for resume tips, job application help, continuing education information and more. Every Monday, Cincinnati Works, opens a new window hosts job coaching sessions from 9:30 am – 3 p.m. in the Downtown Main Library Tech Center.
“To me, the LevelUp program and all of its activities is a start at reaching communities that needed training and education to get to the next level in life and in their careers,” says Simon.
Reaching communities truly is Simon’s driving force as a graphic designer. “The top things that influence my design are our customers and seeing underprivileged and unserved communities gain new educational tools and knowledge.”
So next time you’re at your Branch Library, on the Library website, or social media, and you see a fresh, innovative, community-centered design – know that Graphic Designer Simon Shakespeare likely played a hand in bringing it to life.