100 Creatives

Arizona Cardinals Graphic Designer Amy Robinson on Making Your Passion into a Paycheck

Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. Leading up to the release of Best of Phoenix, we're taking a closer look at 100 more. Welcome to the 2016 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today is 31. Amy Robinson.

Life is never stagnant for Amy Robinson.

That's because the Glendale-based graphic designer, 31, is inspired by movement. Which is fitting, considering she works for the Arizona Cardinals.

But it goes beyond her job. The creative spends her off-hours running and doing Crossfit, and tending to her "very independent and busy" toddler at home. "So, I’ve used that aspect of my life as continual inspiration," Robinson says. "This translates to movement within imagery or typography used in design. Movement is ever-changing, so I constantly stay inspired."

Robinson's excitement feeds on itself. She counts joining the Cardinals as the highlight of her career thus far, she says, "one of those humbling, 'I made it' moments." Those moments keep coming, and Robinson counts her colleagues as "amazingly talented people." 

Clearly, she's passionate. Robinson works on all aspects of promoting the franchise and the franchise's information graphics. She's involved with everything from metal-detector signage, documents coaches use during games, video board signage, and various Cardinals publications, to designing player bios and headshots. 

"I love what I do!" she says. "I love seeing the fans’ reactions when a new design rolls out or they really enjoy a social media post which gets them pumped for the season or game."

Robinson arrived at this point in her career after discovering her interest in design while planning her wedding. Without finding the right invitation out there, she ended up creating her own. Soon after and at the age of 25, she decided to delve into design as a student at Arizona State University. "By my third year, I had a baby in tow and found it challenging attempting to balance classes, a newborn, an additional part-time job, help run a household, and an internship," Robinson recalls. "I was very fortunate to have supportive teachers that saw something in me I didn’t, and helped me push myself further than I thought ever possible."

That internship was at Lane Terralever, and it was Robinson's first real chance to network with Phoenix's design community and AIGA Arizona executive members. She was hired out of her internship into her job with the Cardinals and now serves as the AIGA Arizona chapter manager. 

"The advice I would give to those starting out, or even restarting, is to not quit," she says. "There are so many outside influences that are going to try and get you to stop or change your mind, especially if you don’t fit the mold of what they think you should be doing."

The key is knowing the right voices to listen to. "One of my best decisions was to go back to school; the second best — and hardest — was to have a kid while in school," she says. "Though it was difficult, I learned some of the best life lessons in that time. If you really have a passion for something, make it your paycheck."

I came to Phoenix with ... I’m a native!

I design because I love seeing the positive impact that design can have on people. Design is about problem solving and accessible information without people even taking notice. I think that in itself is a powerful tool that gets overlooked in design. How do you feel when you wear this or that brand, or when you see that image? Design at times feels like you’re the gatekeeper to an emotional response people don’t even know they’re having. Paul Rand said it best: “Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.”

I’m most productive when I have my “designer essentials” which include but are not limited to:

— Solitude
— Music: typically rock or metal and up loud to block out excess noise. I get distracted very easily, think Doug from the Pixar movie Up (squirrel!).
— A stick of gum
— A warm hoodie. Hood must be up. Yes, even on warm days.
— Snacks (desired but not required).

My inspiration wall is full of photos of my little one, letterpress prints I love, crossfit workouts, color palette swatches, anything I can get my hands on Disney/Star Wars, typography inspiration, and snacks … lots of snacks.

I’ve learned the most from watching those around me closely. I’m very much an observer. It helps me add a little empathy to everything I do, which I feel is paramount.

Good work should always be designed with a purpose! I think it's simple to focus on things that are trendy and new — that's not necessarily a bad thing when it properly fits into the scope of what is being designed, but I feel that every piece that makes up the good work should have a purpose and meaning. The key is to design for results, not just to make it look cool.

AIGA is rolling out a great campaign for diversity and inclusion. I would really love to see more of that in the Valley. Not just with race and gender, but I feel it’s necessary to touch on how we can help those with disabilities whether that be a physical disability or a mental disorder. It would great to see how we can collaborate to work within the community to bridge the gap from the lack of understanding for people with disabilities or their lack of accessibility around the Valley.

The 2016 Creatives so far:

100. Nicole Olson
99. Andrew Pielage
98. Jessica Rowe
97. Danny Neumann
96. Beth Cato
95. Jessie Balli
94. Ron May
93. Leonor Aispuro
92. Sarah Waite
91. Christina "Xappa" Franco
90. Christian Adame
89. Tara Sharpe
88. Patricia Sannit
87. Brian Klein
86. Dennita Sewell
85. Garth Johnson
84. Charissa Lucille
83. Ryan Downey
82. Samantha Thompson
81. Cherie Buck-Hutchison
80. Freddie Paull
79. Jennifer Campbell
78. Dwayne Hartford
77. Shaliyah Ben
76. Kym Ventola
75. Matthew Watkins
74. Tom Budzak
73. Rachel Egboro
72. Rosemary Close
71. Ally Haynes-Hamblen
70. Alex Ozers
69. Fawn DeViney
68. Laura Dragon
67. Stephanie Neiheisel
66. Michael Lanier
65. Jessica Rajko
64. Velma Kee Craig
63. Oliver Hibert
62. Joya Scott
61. Raji Ganesan
60. Ashlee Molina
59. Myrlin Hepworth
58. Amy Ettinger
57. Sheila Grinell
56. Forrest Solis
55. Mary Meyer
54. Robert Hoekman Jr.
53. Joan Waters
52. Gabriela Muñoz
51. ColorOrgy
50. Liz Magura
49. Anita and Sam Means
48. Liz Ann Hewett
47. Tiffany Fairall
46. Vanessa Davidson
45. Michelle Dock
44. Nia Witherspoon
43. Monique Sandoval
42. Nayon Iovino
41. Daniel Davisson
40. Andrew King
39. Michelle Moyer
38. Jimmy Nguyen
37. Tiffany Lopez
36. Kristin Bauer
35. Donna Isaac
34. Douglas Miles
33. Sierra Joy
32. Francisco Flores
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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski