YIA - Chris Flack

On the side with Chris Flack

2 weeks ago by

This series profiles designers and the side projects they’re working on to develop new skills, test ideas, help people and communities or just do, for the love of it.

This week we heard from one of our DA Friends, Chris Flack, Design Director at Strategy Creative on his recent creative side projects and the value side projects can bring to your day-to-day work.

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Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’re up to during the work week.

Hey I’m Chris Flack, Design Director at Strategy Creative. I’m based in the Ōtautahi studio in the heart of the Art Centre.   

What does your day-to-day look like? Work rituals? Where in the design process do you spend most of your time? Research / Strategy / Designing / Client meetings etc

My day-to-day changes depending on what I’m doing and what stage the different projects I’m involved in are at.

In terms of rituals, I like to use the first 5 minutes of my day to check my calendar and write a clear list of what I need to do, manage, and delegate. Then, I’ll check in with the team members and designers I’m working with to see if they need any direction, oversight, or input. Once they’re happy, I’ll focus on the projects I’m working on (the tools) for a decent chunk of the morning. Then I’ll repeat that structure in the afternoon – checking-in with the team then putting my head down for a specific project.

I’ve tried lots of ways of balancing “doing” vs “directing/managing”, to make myself available to the team while also allowing chunks of my day to go towards designing. I feel like it’s still a work in progress and I’m constantly reading about different ways to work smarter. This article has really helped me reflect on how Makers vs Managers think about time.

I spend most of my time in the design part of the process, whether it’s coming up with/collaborating with the wider team or brand directions for projects we are working on. I make sure the work we are doing relates back to the brand strategy that has been created. I also spend a lot of my time focused on expanding the Strategy Creative brand. This can be anything from finding the best young talent, spreading the word about our work, or making sure our social media and case studies are reflective of the type of work we want to attract.

On the side, we heard you’ve been working on a pretty cool project, YIA – Year In Acronyms. Can you tell us more about it?
Designer Side project: YIA - Year in Acronymns logo
Designer Side project: Year in Acronyms, acronyms for 2022

Every year at Strategy, we create Christmas paper as a gift for our clients. The brief is simple: create a unique and memorable design. One year, I had this simple idea of playing with the ‘year in review’: acronyms.

Acronyms have become synonymous with daily life. YIA pays homage to iconic moments and events from the year. Drawing references from a wide range of news, current affairs, celebrities and iconic sporting moments.

For the 2021 edition, we gave iconic acronyms, including airport codes like LHR a (London Has Restrictions) and cities, NYC (New Year’s Celebrations) a modern twist.

Since then, It’s become a different way to do a year in review. Last year (2022), the entire team at Strategy got involved, submitting their own picks for iconic moments as acronyms.

Favourite Acronym of 2022?

WSS (Will Smith Slap). This moment got everyone talking about the Oscars (when people weren’t that interested). It started memes and sparked debates about whether it had all been a PR stunt. Definitely a key moment of 2022.

Designer Side project: Year in Acronyms by Chris Flack
You’ve had a few interesting side projects over the last few years, Mate Act Now and Comic Sans for Cancer are a few that come to mind. Can you talk about the importance of following your creative interests outside of work? 
Designer Side project: Comic Sans for Cancer by Chris Flack
Designer Side project: Mate Act Now by Chris Flack

Yes – I’ve definitely worked on a few side-projects, by now. I’ve always had lots of ideas that I’ve wanted to put into action, and luckily I’ve managed to find the energy to make them come to life.

Early on in my career, I was keen to try things that lived outside of my day-to-day as a designer. This meant experimenting with different typefaces and designing for the sake of the design. I wouldn’t be limited by what clients would want, and that created a lot of space to just have fun. Most of this stuff would never make my portfolio, but it was a great way to keep learning. 

In recent years, my side-projects have generally focused on bringing the design/creative community together to rally behind a cause (climate change with Mate Act Now/ highlighting the need for more cancer research with Comic Sans Cancer) in a fun and unique way. 

These projects have all been interesting in different ways and have led me to meet and work with some great people.

Do you find it difficult to find the creative energy for YIA or any of your previous projects after you’ve put in the hours at the office?

Most of these projects have been a response to something I felt really strongly about, or triggered by an event in my personal life. These ideas have never been planned as such, they’ve simply grown as I’ve poured energy into them. 

They all have community engagement at the heart of them, which has meant I could share my enthusiasm with others and encourage them to join in. I usually work on these projects over a short, intense period which means I can juggle them with work and family life. 

I’ve learnt that it’s harder to put the time into these projects while having a young family. On the flipside, I’ve always been keen to show my kids that life doesn’t stop when you have a family — you learn to work/think smarter.

Originally, Year In Acronyms was going to be like a live news feed on Twitter/Instagram where I would post a couple of acronyms a week in response to news/events that were happening in the world. After 2 weeks, I quickly realised it wouldn’t be a sustainable workload. It’s then that I changed it to being an end of year review – much easier to do.

Lastly, where can people keep up with YIA and any other side projects you’ve got simmering away?

I don’t have a website, as such. The best place to check out is probably my Instagram – it’s where I post anything interesting that I’m doing both personally and work-related.

Personal
https://www.instagram.com/chris_flack/

Year In Acronyms
https://www.instagram.com/yearinacronyms/

Mate Act Now
www.mateactnow.com
https://www.instagram.com/mateactnow/

Work
Strategy.co.nz
https://www.instagram.com/strategycreative/


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