In the first post of a new series, Digital Pointers, I sat down with the team of Worstofall Design to talk about badass branding, integrating design and art, Greenpoint’s authenticity, and how the G train isn’t so bad after all.
Meet Pia, Steve, James and Stephanie. Pia and Steve are co-founders. Pia manages the business end, Steve heads the creative front. James is a graphic designer. Rounding out the team is the operations manager, Stephanie.
Erin: Can you introduce yourselves?
Steve: I’m Steve Wasterval and I’m the creative director. The company was actually born out of my freelance work as a designer, so me and Pia joined forces. We got together a couple of years ago to start Worstofall Design as a company. I take care of everything creative and James is the graphic designer, so we work together a lot. He does most of the designing and we do the brainstorming, concepting, and painting together. We have some shows coming up, so we’re trying to steal away to paint and design more.
James: I think Worstofall appreciated the fact that I wanted to come here for my art, to really integrate art and design. They have a strong appreciation for design. And I love it. There’s a lot of creativity, especially since we’re primarily artists.
Stephanie: I had just graduated college last May, and gone and traveled all around Southeast Asia and to Haiti. And I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. And I met these guys and they had amazing energy and I liked the direction that the company was going in and I’m also a photographer so I do some photo stuff there. And I help Pia on the business side of things – operations manager – making stuff happen.
Pia: We started this company a couple of years ago. I have a background in economics. I’ve started a few businesses. One day, I kind of realized, okay, Steve has a business here. He’s a very creative person and I’m somebody who’s always wanted to really own and build my own business. I saw an incredible opportunity in all the things that he was doing and so I told him, let’s just do this. Don’t freelance anymore. We can build a creative agency out of this.
My role is overall business development. The three of them are highly creative, very artistic people, but you need that strategic vision in order to really be the difference between art and branding. We’ve got this highly creative, really inspirational work, with a very clear business strategy behind it. I’m all business. I love talking about businesses and figuring out strategic ways to grow businesses and looking for creative ideas and ways to pitch businesses to the customer.
Erin: And how did you settle on Greenpoint? How did you find this space?
Pia: When we walked in here, I think we just loved the vibe of this place: high ceilings, beautiful windows, and a lot of light. A big part of it was being able to have the art studio in the space as well, so it kind of doubles as both. We have little art showings here. We really wanted enough space so that we could have little parties and be able to kind of bring the community into our space too, so we host a lot of events.
James: When we were like “Where should it be?” It was at first, “Well, it’s gotta be in Brooklyn.” Because we really like what’s going on in Brooklyn.
Stephanie: Yeah, Williamsburg is too much like Manhattan now. Greenpoint has got that cool factor. Tourists still come here, but it’s little off the beaten path. And that’s kind of a perfect metaphor for the company that we have.
James: We chose Greenpoint on purpose [laughing]. We wanted Brooklyn and we wanted Brooklyn Brooklyn. And this is still close to Manhattan.
Erin: How connected are you with the community? How do you find working with people or meeting people here? You said that you also hold events?
Stephanie: Yes, well our events are really about bringing people that we know here. Whenever someone comes here for the first time, they’re usually super early because they gave themselves so much time, but it really doesn’t take that much time. We try to get people here so that they are like, “Oh, the G train isn’t that scary”.
Pia: Well, basically we create badass brands that show you off. And that is kind of my litmus test for the clients that we work with. So [there’s] no specific protocol, just business owners who are growing. They usually tend to do re-branding, so businesses that have been running for a couple of years, that are operating with the design logo/website they started with, and are now kind of at a different place and need a brand that not only shows off how successful they are, but can take them to another level. Most of our projects are that kind of re-branding.
Erin: Do you have a favorite kind of customer, or a favorite client that you like to work with?
Steve: That’s what it is. Just like she says. It doesn’t matter what they sell or like what their idea is or what the product is. We like people that aren’t afraid to try something new, people who want to be noticed.
Pia: Like trailblazers.
Steve: Yeah, we just try to highlight what already is different about what someone’s doing. Like Pia said. Since we’re helping people get to the next stage, more often than starting from zero…
Stephanie: ‘Cause oftentimes, there’s a lot of noise around what companies are saying. They may be saying five things, but one of those things is powerful and that’s the reason why people buy their product or their service. We really try to help them shed light on that specific thing and get rid of all the noise.
Erin: Do you find that a lot of companies are having trouble finding that? Like finding their voice..
Pia: Absolutely. I think most companies, including our own, brought a branding company in to help us find our concise message. Because when you’re a part of it, it’s incredibly difficult. It’s really hard to narrow down your message. So our mission is to help companies be laser-focused on what they’re awesome at, because, especially in such a saturated marketplace, you need people to know exactly what you’re about from the second they see you. And that requires a high degree of clarity. So we help the find clarity in who they are. And clarity in their design.
Erin: And what about Greenpoint and Brooklyn? I know you already had a couple of adjectives to describe the neighborhood and the borough. But what would be the brand for Brooklyn and what would be the brand for Greenpoint?
Steve: Well, in Williamsburg, everyone looks like an artist, but in Greenpoint, they actually are.
James: The other day I saw some guy walking down the street and playing the trumpet [laughter] and he was not asking for money or anything, just like a mini marching band. You know, you won’t find that in other areas of Brooklyn because a lot of people are afraid to be expressive. I see here that people feel more comfortable and more at home.
Steve: It’s true. Greenpoint has become more of a community than Williamsburg because of the slower growth. So the same places and people have been around a little bit longer than Williamsburg. Every month or two in Williamsburg, there’s a new condo or a whole building full of new people…so it’s changing faster.
Pia: I think Greenpoint may be a little more organic. Authentic and organic.
Worstofall Design’s Favorite Greenpoint spots:
- Thai Cafe
- Oishi Sushi
- No. 7 Sub
- Cafecita Bogota
- Paulie Gee’s
- Cookie Road
- The Parlour
Thanks to the Worstofall Design team!
Check out their website for a portfolio of their work.