Last week, our founder Paul Page shared the story of the very first Page Design client. This week he dives into the story about how Page Design went from a one-man show to a tight-knit team and explains the most surreal photoshoot of his career.
Building a Team
Within a couple of months of starting my own business, Page Design was whizzing along and I needed help. Friends said: “Don’t start hiring. Employees are a pain. You will be miserable trying to juggle all of the hassles of being a boss.” Boy, were those friends ever wrong. From my very first hire in the fall of 1980 through the present day, Page Design has been blessed with the very best employees ever.
It started with a call from a design teacher at UC Davis. She had a student named Patti Oji, who was willing to serve as an office manager in a design studio to better learn the ropes of graphic design. That sounded good to me! Patti was truly sent from heaven. She would pounce on a ringing phone, devour any paperwork that needed doing, or zip across town to run an errand. I was totally free to create and design. But Patti would also jump into her design chair and tackle any paste-up work. The two of us became a team and I watched her skills advance for four years.
Then, the unthinkable happened: In the summer of 1984, Patti let me know that life changes were taking her to the Bay Area, and she would be leaving Page Design. Amazingly, in the next three months, three young designers would join Page Design. Sherril Cortez, Paula Sugarman, and Tracy Titus would go on to form the nucleus of Page Design for the next 15 years. After Paula left to form her own studio, and Tracy and I retired, Sherril remains a key piece of the Page Machine. So many other talented people have added their hearts to the soul of the studio. Some have gone on to form successful businesses of their own. Some have stayed on for decades.
Building a New Home
In the spring of 1986, I purchased a new building and could not contain myself and immediately packed the team into my car and drove them over to a graffiti-stained, leaky roofed, rat-infested structure that remains the current location of the studio (29th and S). Their horrified faces seemed to scream out their inner thoughts: “I need to polish up my resume!”
After a year-long renovation project, the project won an award from the American Institute of Architects, and 1900 29th Street remains the home to Page Design Group.
Our amazing team soon became a tightknit family. At Christmas, my wife, Claudia, and I enjoyed hosting Christmas parties, and every summer, we would all enjoy local adventures, eventually turning into an annual tradition we call “Page Day”.
Sometimes Things Get Wild
Projects were a little different back in the 80s and clients welcomed our outrageous ideas. Clients would often approve crazy suggestions like: “Why don’t we rent a live tiger for the magazine cover?”
Each year, we developed a theme for the annual California Grocers Association convention, and in 1986 we chose a circus theme. For the cover of California Grocer Magazine, we scheduled a photoshoot with the CGA Chairman and a real tiger, rented from Marine World in Santa Clara. For this surreal photoshoot, we had the Chairman wear his grocer uniform, ready for his close-up with the man-eating feline. This was not the tiger’s first photoshoot and it performed brilliantly, even leaving some time for a few personal shots with my two-year-old daughter. I don’t know how feasible this type of situation would be in this day and age, but back then, it was most definitely a one-of-a-kind experience.
Even though Page Design still runs out of the same brick building at 29th and S, a lot has changed in 40 years. What hasn’t changed is the shared spirit and work ethic of the Page Design team. What started out as one graphic designer, has grown to 12 people sharing the same successful collaborative spirit and family atmosphere.
Be sure to keep checking our Instagram feed for graphic design throwbacks from the 2000s and 2010s in the next coming weeks!