Creative + Co-Pilot

What I've Learned From Teaching as an Adjunct Professor This Year

The Details and Another Failure Story


So many of you know that packaging design has long been a passion for me as a designer. I've continually been intrigued with the power and experience of a tangible product. Sites like The DieLine or Lovely Package curate some of the best packaging work in the world, and I feel that it is nice feather for your cap if you are featured on their site. As a young designer having not entered the workforce yet, one of my short-term goals was to get some of my packaging out into the world/interwebs in hopes of using it as a platform to get an internship that I really wanted. 

I remember in 2011 as a senior at Watkins College of Art & Design, I was doing the last minute scramble before a photoshoot I had scheduled for one of my self-initiated packaging projects. I had been rushing round printing labels and adhering them the day before, on top of coordinating quite a complex portfolio booklet that I was planning on mailing out to prospective employers. I had a heavy load on my shoulders, but was feeling good about how everything was coming together. The photo shoot was scheduled for the following morning and I worked late into the evening getting all the materials squared away and together for the shoot. 

I had a great experience the next day. I was fortunate to work out an arrangement to help assist one of the best food photographers around in exchange for documentation of my work. We spend half the day shooting his stuff and mine, and the quality of the images are still some of the best in my portfolio. He sent the images of the salsa packaging I had designed as promotional pieces, and I couldn't have been more pleased. 

I added that new project to my site. It was one of the final pieces I added before I taking it live. The excitement and anxiousness grew within me as I shared the link to my new site on Facebook and LinkedIn. I received plenty of nice messages and comments, and I was proud of my work. I felt like a badass to have a collection of projects that I was proud of until....

The next morning I commenced my morning routine, and then I receive a message saying congrats for being featured on thedieline.com, the packaging design site that I was aspiring to get my work into. A few fellow students had seen it that morning and notified me it was posted. I was so giddy. I hurriedly shifted gears and went to the site to see my work featured for all to see. I'm looking through the series of images for my salsa packaging. One image for each: Jalapeño Verde, Habañero Taquera and Serrano Ranchero. I scroll through the page and start reading the comments.

"Nice work, very good system to designate the heat!"
"Beautiful use of color, fun container shape and solid design. Nice work."

And then the hammer drops. The last comment shames thedieline and myself for letting something like the second "r" in serrano slip through the cracks. I've got a fucking typo in my design! And it's already online!

Then it hits. You know that feeling where your butthole puckers up all nice and tight, you feel the hot flashes come on and your stomach feels as though it is going to remind you of how horrible that delicious breakfast tasted on the way back out? Not to mention the sweaty pits and forehead! I worked so damn hard to create this product and push it out into the world, only to have it nullified by overlooking those details. I was emailing edited photos to the author of the post on thedieline trying to get images replaced and comments pointing them out removed. None of it worked. My work in all of it's glory and shame was out into the world, and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. It gave me a nauseous feeling in my stomach for nearly a year. 

I'm over it now. Time has passed. I'm older and wiser, but I realize now that those details can't be overlooked. These details are small in physical size, but they are huge in the way we present ourselves as professionals. If the situation were different, I could have lost my job or I could have lost a client. Ask for a second set of eyes, don't be too stubborn regardless of how little time you have to complete something and realize that how you treat the smallest things defines who you are as a professional. Here's to less blunders in 2015! Cheers.


Stephen Jones