Interview by Visual Collaborative
May 2020 6 min read
Teodore Thomas is a graphic designer based in Miami, Florida. As a featured profile in our Oxygen interview series, Thomas talks about his career and experience in the design industry. He also talks about his faith which is based on Christian and biblical principles.
(VC) Outside the technology and graphic design work, who is Teodore Thomas?
(Teodore) A child of God, simply trusting the God of the Universe to be the best he can be, not because of, but in spite of. A learning father, a growing husband, and friend, aiming to see the light through darkness, knowing there will be a better day, despite what we are facing now.
(VC) Your industry like many others was inevitably affected by COVID-19, what kind of long term impacts do you see on email marketing?
(Teodore) COVID-19 is extremely life-changing. It has literally consumed so many lives. Our lives are not only composed of a family but also industry. I’m both grateful and fortunate to be alive, to be able to participate in this interview. I would not use the word positive, but I have been given an opportunity to assist in keeping the economy going. The vast majority of my co-workers were furloughed, however, the email team remained. Emails have become more than a marketing tool. They let out connected clients know that we care; know that we understand their needs and also that we are standing together with them.
The email marketing industry will grow due to this because it has proven to be a significant point of contact, whether it is B2B or B2C communication.
Ideas are born anywhere in the world, however, America provides the means to express that idea, that you may not have the chance to express in one’s homeland. we take risks every day. We never know if or when the things we depend upon will fail.
(VC) As a man of Jamaican heritage in America, what can you candidly tell aspiring young people or design entrepreneurs about success and risk in business?
(Teodore) Wow. This question reminds me of the NBA (National Basketball Association) in 2013 when I invested $2000 in anticipation of the Miami Heat to win their thread NBA title. I camr up with a brand MIAMI 305foever. The Tshirt design was Triple the Heat. I didn’t say Miami Heat therefore I thought I hit a goldmine. Unfortunately, the Miami Heat lost that year. America provides opportunity. Ideas are born anywhere in the world, however, America provides the means to express that idea, that you may not have the chance to express in one’s homeland. We take risks every day. We never know if or when the things we depend upon will fail. For example, this external hard drive I’ve been using for all my projects for the past six years died about a month ago. The question is if the opportunity is given to you to express that idea will you take it? Risk also goes deeper than the opportunity to express. There is also a risk in deciding whether or not to help someone. Sometimes in helping another person one risks losing your own opportunity. Will you help in spite of the risk? After all – ” No man is an island.”
(VC) What is your go-to approach or practice today in terms of claiming your creative power of inspiration and imagination?
(Teodore) You may be familiar with the saying “All work no play makes Jack a dull boy” I’ve been working in the design industry for approximately 17 years now or more. Companies and clients have their personal vision, style, and tastes. As a designer it can be heartbreaking when you are forced to break design rules or your best design or thought is shut down for something you think is totally stupid, but you are called to please the client and respect executive decisions. I developed a cure – personal projects. Where I’m the CEO, Art Director, and client. Now, this is my playground. In my personal creative space and time, I can experiment and create images and concepts with unlimited possibilities. I am better able to serve clients and make their satisfaction a priority when I remember and keep the two activities separate. The mere anticipation of my personal creative time keeps me motivated and inspired in private life and in business.
(VC) You have spent quite some time in the melting pot of New York City which has its own culture and Avant-Garde attitude. Do you express some of this in your social interactions in Miami?
(Teodore) Wow. Sorry to say not very often. The environment in Miami is a lot different because the majority of people drive social interaction has been reduced vs traveling on the subway and walking New York streets. Therefore pace is a lot slower. Most people use the drive-thru therefore in-person service is extremely slow. Forget about dressing to impress a pair of slippers and a wrinkled t-shirt is okay because almost every day is like a day at the beach. I guess I should start making a difference through my fashion statement.
Today we have freedom of expression, however, there are many protests of shouting, and screaming to get a point across. How did they get others to listen through art? Why did they have such an influence when there was no technology like social media we have today? Imagine what could happen if that past met this future?
(VC) Some mention different historical times as a period they admire for affluence or culture. If you could time-warp to any era to collaborate with its culture, what time would it be and why?
(Teodore) For me, that would be the Renaissance. We have seen the work of Picasso, Andy Warhol and Basquiat – different, vibrant, and expressive. Imagine what would be like at the beginning of the enlightenment? Everyone is an individual however before the Renaissance everyone seemed to flow is the same trend. At this point, Art and science made political changes in society. It can be seen as a bottom-up change – The people influencing the upper class without protest. Today we have freedom of expression, but are the powers that be listening? How did they get others to listen through art? Why did they have such an influence when there was no technology like social media we have today? Art is powerful, especially where there is a growing understanding of the value of life; coming out of the Dark Ages.
Photo courtesy Teodore Thomas
(VC) At this stage of your collective accomplishments, If you can work alongside any public figure, brand, or enterprise. Who would it or they be and why?
(Teodore) If you are a public figure, brand, or making changes that means you are established already. As I said previously, who can assist a person because they can and they have means. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going” Eccl.9:10. At times the biggest impact we have is in the mundane moments in life. The next step is just as important as reaching the goal.
(VC) Teodore thanks very much for chatting with us, is there anything else you would like to add?
(Teodore) Thank you so much for the opportunity to chat and share. I’m extremely grateful to you all – Team Visual Collaborative.