The next Page Design team member to be featured in our Employee Spotlight Series is Kurt Kland, a senior artist who’s been wowing us with his talents for more than 25 years. Born in Mississippi but raised in Atascadero, CA, Kurt is a caffeine-loving creative with a passion for telling a story through his designs.
A Career Built on a Little Bit of Luck and a Lot of Hard Work
When Kurt first began his studies at UC Davis, a career in the visual arts wasn’t even on his radar. In fact, the majority of his college courses focused on biopsychology, and his plan was originally to build experience as a researcher.
But his last summer of school, Kurt scored a job at the Davis Enterprise — and his future was forever changed. He was simply looking for an enjoyable way to pay rent, but the job (which had him swapping out papers in the news racks) quickly evolved into something he never would have expected. When one of the Enterprise advertising artists left the company a couple of months after Kurt arrived, he decided to take a chance and apply for the job.
During that time, newspapers were just beginning to dive into the world of design, marking it as completely new territory for the Enterprise and Kurt alike. He scored the job, then immersed himself in the process of self-educating and gaining hands-on experience. The next decade at the Enterprise would see him become a full-time graphics editor, creating magazine covers and special edition publications — and then an unexpected phone call would once again shift the tides of his career.
Here at Page Design, our paths crossed with Kurt when our resident Photoshop expert was moving on to a new job elsewhere. One call and an impressive interview later, Kurt became the newest member of the Page Design team. Although he had limited exposure to computer-based design work, and attributes his hiring to being “in the right place at the right time,” we know exactly what it was that brought him here: pure, raw talent.
A Seriously Sweet Place to Work
Kurt likes to joke that it’s the always-overflowing community candy bowl that has kept him at Page Design for all these years, but what he really loves most is our company culture. As he says, “There’s a reason people stay here forever,” and it all comes down to the sense of community that makes our team so unique. One of the aspects of Page Design that he appreciates most is the genuine focus on building a team: “[When] bringing on new people, we look at if you’re good at what you do, [as well as] if you play well with others.” And that, he says, is the secret behind a company where everyone truly enjoys coming to work every day.
In the course of his two-plus decades at Page Design, Kurt says that he’s enjoyed a gradual process of growth that’s kept things challenging and interesting over the years. Kurt explains that he loves that his work is so much more than simply creating a “pretty picture” — it’s being able to weave together graphics, illustrations, pieces of art, and other elements to tell a visual narrative.
Inspiration for Kurt comes in a wide array of forms, including billboards, magazines, social media, and more. When he’s building his personal folder of visual inspiration, he incorporates images that hit the mark in terms of style and succinctness, ones that catch his eye and spark new ideas for future work.
An Artist’s Day Off
So, where can you find Kurt when he’s not elbow-deep in the artistic process at Page Design? He’s just as likely to be whipping up a tasty meal and relaxing with some good TV as he is to be hiking or biking along the American River Bike Trail. He loves spending time with his significant other, whether they’re grabbing a bite at the Bombay Bar & Grill or road tripping to Point Reyes, San Francisco, Mount Shasta, and beyond. He says that if he were to be any fictional character, his first choice would be Finn from the animated series Adventure Time - which fits once you know that Finn has a certain knack for the artistic. Finn also represents a sweet balance between practicality and playfulness.
In the future (or tomorrow, if he were to randomly come across a million dollars), Kurt has plans to find a nice place to retire and enjoy all his favorite hobbies. His favorite travel destinations are spots dotted all up the North Coast of California, and his future travel plans include the entire United States as well as out-of-the-way spots like Iceland and Tasmania.
Having Fun on the Playground of Creativity
As a kid, Kurt’s earliest career dreams were to work as a paleontologist; then, he thought about becoming an artist (dinosaurs were always his drawing of choice). Today, his social media feeds include paleo-artists, who create fascinating sketches based on real-life fossils. Kurt’s talents lie in creating visuals that are sure to stand the test of time — just like the fossils he finds so fascinating. At the risk of getting too metaphorical, we’ll just say that all of those dots definitely connect.
In closing, we leave you with Kurt’s words of advice to anyone embarking on a career in art and design — because he says it best: “Don’t get too locked into tools. Go back to the basics, practice sketching with a pencil and paper. People lose connection with real skills because of technology. Let creativity have its own playground.”