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Creatives during COVID-19 Times – Meet Joe Diaz the Designer

Interview Series with creatives continues – Creatives during our COVID-19 era, how does it affect us.

Meet Joe Diaz the Designer


A casual chat as if we met over coffee at the local cafe- if only COVID-19 was not here. In this interview series over coffee and tea, I meet up with Joe Diaz in USA, Melinna Kaminari in Athens Greece, Roy Reed, London, UK and Andy Carolan, Norwich UK. Read all interviews in the categori ”Cafe stories”

Stefan: What do you work with. What is your title?

Joe: I’m part owner of a family run sign shop and design firm. I use CorelDRAW primarily for design and layout work. We also still hand letter and a paint at our shop.

S: We live in very different times. The Corona Coved-19 virus have hit almost all countries in the entire world, when this is written. What was your initial feeling when you understood it would hit home, where your at?

J: I immediately worried about those that are most at risk. Almost everyone has friends or loved ones that would fit in that category. I then also worried about those that weren’t listening to medical experts and that weren’t taking this seriously as their actions could worsen the problem. I also worry about the effects on our economy. Ultimately lives saved is more important than money lost, but it’s hard not to be thinking about all the people that will be effected by this economically as well.

S: With the initial actual hit of Coved-19, where you working on a project at the time?

J: Yes. I had multiple projects in the works. Several have been canceled or put on hold. One project, in particular, was to be used on a television show that has an average of 7.5 million viewers a week. So I was pretty excited about that job. Because the show has a live audience, Coved-19 has obviously had an effect on their production schedule and so the project has been put on hold. We also create logos for small businesses, and a handful of new startups have cancelled or put their project on hold as they wait to see what happens. I can’t blame them. If I were in their shoes I might also be cautious about starting up a new business during times like these. Fortunately we still have sign work.

S: Many businesses have been hurt a lot. Many companies either layoff staff, while others simply go bankrupt within weeks. Have this affected the clients you work with? And have this affected you as well?

J: So far we haven’t noticed too much with our clients other than the startups I mentioned before. But it’s early. I’m sure we will feel the effects at some point. We have received notice that some of our distributors will be unable to provide the same turnaround that we are used to as a result of cutting hours or closing up. Fortunately, the bulk of our sign work comes from the farm industry and trucking industry. I don’t anticipate those industries shutting down anytime soon, so I’m relieved to know that. We have been in businesses for over 40 years now and that business has survived multiple recessions, so I try to be hopeful that we can handle whatever is in store for us.

S: During these initial weeks or months, depending on where you live, how do you plan, if at all, for how and what you as a Creative can do, or plan to do, to stay productive. Do you hibernate or keep on working?

J: It didn’t seem like we had much warning here in the states, or I should say we were getting mixed messages from ”leadership” The warnings were there. The entire thing seems very unorganized from a leadership standpoint. It seems as though each state is handling things differently. My home state of Illinois was one of the first to get a ”Stay-at-Home Order” from the Governor. He closed down schools, and all non-essential businesses. I don’t disagree with the decision, but it was sudden so there wasn’t really a way to prepare for it. It’s debatable as to whether a businesses is ”essential” or not, but some of what we create here is essential. For example, trucks are required by law to have certain identification and markings on them before they can hit the roads. That’s a service we offer, so we feel as though we should stay open to provide those services and similar services But we have closed down the front office and are only allowing drop-offs, pick-up and appointments. We rarely have more than 4 or 5 people in the building at a given time anyway, and that is including those of us that work here. Also it’s important to note that all four of us that work here are family, so we are definitely operating with in the guidelines provided and we are being very safe here.

S: When we all eventually comes out of all this, where do you hope to be, as a Creative on day one? Can you envision anything of the future ahead?

J: We plan on doing some ”housekeeping” and focusing on some things we’ve been wanting to do for the businesses, but haven’t had the time to fit it in. So hopefully when everything is back to normal, we will be a bit more organized.

S: If you would give any sort of word of hope to us all and people in our various creative fields, what would that be?

J: To those in the creative industry, take this time to learn and grow, it will pay off when when we all recover from this. To everyone, in general, this is a wake up call. We also need to learn from this and grow, because something much worst could have happened and still can. We need to be ready. We need to look at this as an opportunity to make much needed changes and to protect our future.

S: Finally, in showing our readers a picture of today, of your work or something else, what would that be?

J: Here’s a picture of my son the day after the ”Stay-at-Home Order” was put in place. As I’m sitting there worrying about everything that’s going on, I look over at him, and he’s as happy as can be. It just made me feel so much better about everything. There is so much in this world to be thankful for. Also, if you’re wanting to see something art/design related, here’s a sneak peek of a game I’ve been working on.

Stefan Lindblad, the Illustrator chatting with Joe Diaz the Designer, over a virtual Fika (coffee/tea)

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