Big Brain Awards 2013

That's how Arvizu has taken in artwork since he was a kid. He's drawn toward lines and colors more than anything.

"My earliest memories centered around art, advertising, and design," Arvizu says. "Saturday morning cartoons and comic books; toy packaging and trading cards; Cracker Jacks and Bazooka Joe gum; Crayola's art carousel; Powell Peralta's 'Bones Brigade' logo; Van Halen's 1984 album cover."

All that visual inspiration comes through in Arvizu's playful, graphic work. His one-man operation ( affords him total creative control, and almost all the new work he gets is due to word-of-mouth marketing. Arvizu's clients include the NFL, Oregano's, and Kraft Foods.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz
Lindsay Kinkade
Lindsay Kinkade

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"It might sound corny, but I've always wanted to make compelling art. To create images as impactful to me as the work I loved from childhood."

When Arvizu first got his start in design, he worked at Fossil. "Designing and illustrating a series of tins from first sketch to finished printed product was a positive and motivating experience for me," he says. "It taught me about the entire life cycle of a project and what it took to get a quality finished product."

Now Arvizu applies his passion for process to his wide range of projects.

Continuing to push his artwork into fresh territory means saying "yes" to new experiences. Being open to newness is a topic he discussed in his October 2012 lecture for Creative Mornings Phoenix, a free series of talks by local creative types.

After he gave that talk, the team at monOrchid asked Arvizu whether he was interested in exhibiting his artwork. Of course, he said yes. Through the end of April 2013, his 60-piece art exhibition "Every Which Way" is on view in the downtown gallery.

Sometimes creative opportunities just arrive.

When one of his neighbors cut down a tree and asked Arvizu if he could use the wood, he said sure. Then he carved the pair of wooden tiki statues sitting in his backyard. He'd never attempted anything like that before, but had fun trying it out. "I get genuinely excited at the thought of making something new or learning a new skill," he says.

What's next? So much that it's tough to list everything. But Arvizu's ready.

"In school, they preached that you are only as good as your last project," he says. "My coolest work is my next project." — Becky Bartkowski


You get a pretty good feel for Justin Katz's design sensibilities before you even get all the way into his home. The living room is cohabited by an iconic Eames chair and a classic Pin*Bot pinball machine; Katz navigates the balance between professionalism and playfulness effortlessly.

The 30-year-old motion designer, creative director, and producer at Flock of Pixels has his degree in film and animation from the Rochester Institute of Technology but says he's been making visual stories since childhood. "I'm pretty sure I made a South Park version of Macbeth for my high school English class," he recalls, laughing. "I would do all different kinds of stop motion on Post-it notes."

The practice must have come in handy, because Katz won his first set of Rocky Mountain Emmys (the guy currently has five) for a stop-motion video he created in 2011 for Massage Envy. The Valentine's Day ad featured footage of candy hearts dancing across the screen. It looks simple, but when Katz explains his moving each individual heart frame by frame, we can understand why his website lists "patience" as one of his production tools.

As Flock of Pixels (, Katz works in two ways. The first is sourcing out his individual talents as a motion designer or animator. The second is full production of a video, for which he hires additional creative talent. "I realized how I was working before. I was always collaborating with another designer, another animator, whoever it was," he says. "I realized we could be this flock of creatives."

Katz's flock consists primarily of local creatives, especially when he's doing work for local companies, like long-term client American Express. Even outside his business, Katz is a staunch supporter of the local arts and design scene. His house is decorated with prints by local artists like former Big Brainer Safwat Saleem, and he gleefully shares a copy of the McSweeney's issue illustrated by current Big Brain finalist Kelsey Dake (his is signed, of course).

But Katz is afraid that people and companies in Phoenix don't always realize how much talent they have right in their own neighborhoods. "Phoenix Design Week should be sold out," he says. "It's a direct allegory to Phoenix itself: low cost, high content."

Katz knows high content when he sees it; he spent the beginning of his career working in New York City with marketing giants JWT and Landor. His experiences there helped him refine his skills so that when he finally struck out on his own in 2008 as Flock of Pixels, he was prepared.

Between apologies for "totally geeking out about this stuff," he enthusiastically explains why a certain transition is great or how a particular frame changes meaning. It's the pre-production elements like concept and development that really set motion-designed work apart, he says. "If you can surprise somebody with the way that a story goes or the way that something manipulates on screen, that stuff is fun and that stuff is memorable," he says.

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OK wow, lets roll that beautiful bean footage!


He sounds like a future famous designer.  I liked reading about him.  Much luck and success to him in his future in design and hopefully I'll see his clothes in the best shops in the future.

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