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Duck Duck Goose

September 14th, 2014

Being the Marketing/Advertising Art Director for Cabela’s was VERY Rewarding, But the Journey that Followed was Priceless! –

But before we get to that part of the story, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Craig Burgwardt. I am an award-winning graphic designer and artist whose creations have a proven track record of increasing revenue for any company lucky and wise enough to hire me.

And this is a true story.

Once upon a time, I was the acting Art Director for the Estes Park Brewery, located in Estes Park, Colorado, and on the eastern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. Not only did I have access to all of the hunting and fishing a man of my caliber (no pun intended) could ever want … or need … but I also had the luxury of having access to all of the micro-brewery beer anyone with a mouth and a functioning set kidneys could ever drink.

Long story short, and being a hunter and fisherman, I had heard of Cabela’s “The World’s Foremost Outfitter” of hunting, fishing and outdoor supplies. Having taken only one trip up to the massive Sidney, Nebraska retail store, the only interaction I had had with anyone was a sales associate named Jerry in “The Cave” – the part of the store where they sold returned and discontinued merchandise. After some conversation about everything hunting and fishing, I ended up buying a portable GPS for my truck and to use while bowhunting.

“Boy, wouldn’t that be the best of both worlds working in the catalog department at Cabela’s?”

Long story shorter, I showed up for work at the brewery one day as Manager/Art Director, and there is Jerry and 12 of his friends from Cabela’s. Seems they were in town for a long weekend just to relax, hike and fish. After some small talk … and I’ll remember these words as long as I live … I said to him, “boy, wouldn’t that be the best of both worlds working in the catalog department at Cabela’s?” Jerry said that one of his best friends was an Art Director in catalog, and he gave me his number.

Two interviews and two weeks later, I was the newest Art Director in the Cabela’s catalog department. Shortly after that, I was promoted to Marketing & Advertising Art Director in charge of all of the display ads we put in various outdoor, hunting and fishing magazines. That, too, was a big feather in the cap.

In 1999, I decided to part ways (on a good note) with Cabela’s and return to Estes Park. Then the idea hit me to do what I could to convince Cabela’s that I could help them to take their marketing and advertising efforts to the next level by creating a new advertising campaign that really involved their customers in the effort.

For two years I worked tirelessly to create and innovate streamlined creative design techniques to facilitate the implementation of improved advertising and marketing in a way the likes of which changed company marketing policy in a way that is still used to this day. Another BIG feather in the cap.

I continued to create amazing illustrations and design for Cabela’s on a regular freelance basis for several years to come.

Fast-forward to September of 2007. I moved my wife and daughter from the mountains of Estes Park, Colorado, to the “hills” of Asheville, North Carolina. After settling into our spacious three-bedroom, two-bath apartment … and three and one-half months of working two full-time jobs stocking shelves and unloading truck just to make ends meet … I managed to score the creative Direct Response job of a lifetime – working as the Art Director for Master Copywriter/Marketer, Clayton Makepeace.

As the Chief Creative for Master Copywriter Clayton Makepeace for two years, did I get an education in direct response marketing, or what?

I spent two wonderful years putting my exceptional (Clayton’s words, not mine) creative abilities to work for ResponseInk and The Profit Center, punching up the power of their promotions and Internet marketing with my innovative designs. I also created all of the Direct Response banner ads for Weiss Research, publishers of one of the most successful financial newsletters in the country. Talk about a crash course in Direct Response!

“As an agency owner, nothing gets your attention better than having your #1 client rave about one of your employees. Craig Burgwardt has drawn rave reviews for his graphics from all of our clients time and time again. Even better: He’s a breeze to work with and a bottomless well of innovative ideas.”

My advice: ” If you get the chance to hire Craig, jump at it!”

– Clayton Makepeace,

President and Founder, The Total Package

My colleagues at this job (I hesitate to even call it that, as it was so darn FUN), were so talented, funny, genuine and hard-working. The Web Hole Guys, the copywriters, customer service personnel and marketing crew took so much pride in their daily tasks that it made everything we did go together in a seamless effort.

As a conceptually strong Art Director who possesses strong business/work ethics, and having spent over ten years contributing to helping specialty retailer Cabela’s, “The World’s Foremost Outfitter” of outdoor, hunting & fishing supplies reach the pinnacle in their industry, I have come to truly believe I have the talent, work ethic and ability to implement strategic design in a way that meets or exceeds the creative needs any agency commands … and expects – especially in the retail outdoor, financial, health, entertainment destination, and motorsports sectors. After all, it’s never been about the awards …

"It’s about a Hard-Working Team Effort to Give the Client a Substantial Return on their Advertising Investment, and Having Fun Doing It, Right?"

Well, I said this journey was priceless! And it has been. The issue is now, that chapter in my professional life is over and it’s time to begin a new one. Having recently succumbed to becoming a casualty of the current “Job War” has been a humbling experience … even for us veterans of design, dignity and creativity.

A very good friend of mine told me just the other day, and I truly believe this, that when one door closes, another one opens. Everything happens for a reason. I am currently looking for the next open door in order to contribute my skills and abilities to a company with a culture and attitude that reflects mine, which is – “it’s all about our clients.” In a properly managed creative working environment, everybody wins. The agency, the employee, the client, and the consumer.

I would simply love the chance to combine talents, abilities and skill sets towards a common goal: That of making our clients even more successful.

From you, the reader, I extend a request, and would really appreciate any leads or contact info pertaining to Associate Creative Director, Senior Art Director or Senior Graphic Designer employment opportunities within 150 miles or so of Asheville, North Carolina as my family and I would really like to stay in this region. Sometimes, it’s who you know.

Wishing you all the best! You can find my fine art and photography gallery and store at:
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Thanks a bunch! Make it a great day and don't forget to duck or you're bound to get goosed!


You Can NOT Always Get what You Want

December 17th, 2013

You Can NOT Always Get what You Want

… but if you try sometimes, really, really hard, you get what you need. This, of course, is not always the case, or the sane way of going about it. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Persistence. It does pay off.

Growing up as a child and continuing through my college years, I was always told that the more you put into a task, job or project, the more you would get out of it. It certainly holds true if you are true to yourself. If you’ve been brought up to strive for perfection at the cost of your sanity, it usually turns out to be a case of setting yourself up for failure. No more!

Five A’s and a B. What’s up with this B? That’s not an easy thing to live with for 37 years. Trying to satisfy the intellectual, scholarly and creative needs of others all of my life has led me down a road of loss of self. No more!

Since then, I have learned to work with people and clients, rather than trying to satisfy them. The key to creative success when beginning with a blank slate is getting quality input and direction first … this almost always leads to a better result. Although I may still have my "people-pleasing" moments, and do so because it gives me great personal satisfaction to know that the creative abilities I have, and the DIRE need to share them with others in hopes of producing a great outcome, still prevail.

What I should have been doing all this time is to satisfy my own creative and self-rewarding needs … not those of others, whom by doing so might have paid me more, thought better of me as an artist, or even as a person.

Design Professional. I’m not sure which word is more provocative. That is the title I’ve come to know myself as for the last 30 years. This is where I do it. I’m currently working very hard to change how I see and value myself, my role in life, and working to sell myself on me. So far, it’s coming along really well. Positive mindset brings positive outcomes.

Talent … yeah, I have talent. Trust and belief in myself … that’s a work-in-progress. Drive, ambition, goals, and spending long, sleepless days and nights at the computer monitor surrounded by people who could put a man on the moon if they set their mind to it.

Me, the man of many talents and the master of some. It’s amazing how one is almost always in awe of the talents of others, yet fails to see the shining example of one’s own abilities. All it takes is a long, hard look in the mirror. That is the only person I have come to realize I need to impress. Everything else is just eye candy.

My main goal in life from here on out is to be happy with my Self. My heart, my soul, my ability to take a blank screen or canvas and pull rabbits out of my CS6 hat or artistic paint bucket at the drop of a “I-needed-it-yesterday” e-mail. That’s my job.

I thought I used to thrive on that kind of request. Try telling that to the nurse who took my blood pressure the other day. Oh it was still just 120/80 … great by today’s standards … but in order to take it, she had to pull me from out from in front of the mirror. I was just admiring the new Craig Burgwardt.

Words to chew on … make it a great day!

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