Ally to Watch: Sam Jenkins Design

When an Ally Artist submits 154 contest design entries, it’s hard not to notice! Known in the Creative Allies world as Sam Jenkins Designs, Sam has become an enthusiastic member of the creative contest community. Even though he has been a member of Creative Allies for less than a year, Sam’s seemingly never-ending ideas continue to grow.

When do you first remember getting into illustration?

I’ve been passionate about art, in general, for as long as I can remember. In elementary school, I always used to draw the comic strip character, Garfield, and would sell the drawings to other students. That was my first stint as an artist and an entrepreneur. My teachers noticed my love for art and always had me draw on the classroom bulletin boards to decorate during the holidays. I knew from an early age that whatever career path I decided to take would involve some form of art. Throughout high school I even thought about becoming an architect. I was good in every subject, but I excelled at math. So getting into architecture just made sense. It wasn’t until my senior year that I finally decided on and committed to becoming a graphic designer. After high school, I attended Florida State University and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Fine Art with a concentration in Graphic Design.

How do you start your process for working on a piece?

I don’t have one set process to start every new project, but many of my projects do involve some form of inspiration. Everywhere you look (or listen), there is something that could potentially inspire you. Watching TV, surfing the web, listening to music, or perusing through magazines are a few of the ways I become inspired. For example, I was recently watching the snowboard competitions during the X-Games and one of the announcers started talking about the “peak” of the mountain. My brain automatically associated “peak” with “summit” and then it quickly switched to thinking about the secondary meaning of summit. “Superpower Summit” popped into my mind and then “Talks.” Bingo! There was my next design idea for the Rant Room brand identity competition. It was as easy as that. One little word sparked an entire concept evolved around a brand identity for a new social media application.

What has been your favorite contest you’ve worked on?

I tend to gravitate towards logo contests so I would have to say that the Rant Room contest has been the most enjoyable to work on so far. Not only did we have to create a new logo, but coming up with the actual brand name made the contest more challenging. I treated this contest as if I was playing a game. The one who creates the most “good” concepts wins. Of course, in reality the winner only has to submit one piece of artwork. Even though I would love to win every contest I enter, sometimes it’s almost as rewarding just knowing I created something amazing that could potentially be used for another project. The creative freedom we have when working on a Creative Allies contest is very refreshing. It opens up my mind to new creative possibilities. The more I allow myself to explore new creative ideas, the easier it is to develop new concepts.

So, why Creative Allies? What introduced you to the company?

I heard about Creative Allies through a good friend of mine from high school. I had just created my “Atoms Matter” design to put a lighthearted and fun spin on the Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter movements. After I posted the design on my Facebook page, my friend saw it and thought it would be perfect for the “I Love Science” contest. So I entered my first Creative Allies contest and haven’t looked back since.

I noticed that you have been a graphic designer for Foot Locker for several years. Who has been you favorite client thus far for them? Do you believe your work in athletics has influenced your other design work?

Working for Foot Locker, Inc. for the past twenty years has been a great experience. It’s given me the opportunity to work with some of the world’s largest athletic companies such as Adidas, Converse, Nike, Puma, and Under Armour. I wouldn’t put any one company above the others in terms of being my favorite because they all offer something different. They have different target customers so each project is unique. Within the Foot Locker, Inc. family there are many store banners that each caters to their own target customers as well. Some of these banners include: Champs Sports, Foot Locker, Eastbay, Footaction, Lady Foot Locker, and Kids Foot Locker.

I don’t believe working at Foot Locker, Inc. has influenced my design style, but it has definitely influenced the process in which I create artwork. The majority of my career at Foot Locker, Inc. has been spent designing college programs for Champs Sports and Foot Locker stores. The collegiate apparel business is big on “hot market” products which focus around special sporting events, such as National Championship games, and involve speed-to-market. These quick-turn programs translate into short timelines. My work process has evolved through the years to become more efficient in order to meet these high demand, quick deadlines.

I also saw you started a clothing company with your cousin. Tell us more about that.

My cousin, Brett D. Bishop, and I started LeRoy David in 2007. I got the idea to start the company after watching Brett and other local DJs spin records at local nightclubs. I noticed that the DJs always wore T-shirts to their gigs so I thought it would be cool to develop a line of music inspired clothing that they could wear. My cousin loved the idea so we ran with it. The first step was trying to come up with a name for the company. After a long list of names we finally decided on just using our middle names. That way it made it more personal.

Our first collection was called “Music is Life” and was heavily inspired by tattoo designs. Our second collection, “Check One, Check Two”, is a T-shirt campaign to help raise awareness for breast cancer prevention. Like our “Music is Life” collection, all designs have a music inspired theme. The only difference is that these specially designed T-shirts have a “Pink” twist which relates to breast cancer awareness. The best part about this collection is that the net proceeds are donated to the American Cancer Society to help fund cancer research. “Soulful Beings” is our second philanthropic collection and consists of animal themed T-shirts and posters. The idea for this collection started during one of my many visits to Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York. We plan on using Soulful Beings as an avenue to benefit animal charities, both locally and nationally. Currently, the net proceeds are donated to Farm Sanctuary, North America’s largest and most effective farm animal rescue and protection organization.

Visits to Farm Sanctuary started the idea for the “Soulful Beings” collection

Your work has such a bold, simplistic design aspect to it. How do you keep everything so minimal and clean?

I can attribute my bold, simplistic design style to my early freelance work designing nightclub and event flyers for local venues in my hometown of Sarasota, Florida. You only have a few seconds to catch someone’s attention so I always felt that the simpler and bolder the design is, the better. The design needs to be simple enough so that all information can be read quickly and easily, but bold enough to be engaging to the target audience. The use of bright colors is another characteristic of my design style which adds to the boldness of a design. Bright colors plus a clean design always seem to attract people’s attention.

Any suggestions for other up and coming designers?

The best advice I can give is similar to what I’ve heard seasoned writers tell fledgling writers. Write everyday. Even if it is just for half an hour. “Write, write, write” they always say. This could translate well for anyone in any creative field. As mentioned earlier, Creative Allies has given me the means to explore new creative possibilities. I’ve found that the more contests I enter, the more I open my mind, and the more creative I become. So my advice is, “design, design, design.”

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