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An Insiders Guide to Laura Gaines
By: Asheville Signarama
Her pursuit of a degree in French at UNC Chapel Hill led her to Paris, France for a year, where she interned for a PR company. Back home in Chapel Hill, she completed degrees in both French and English--two highly employable majors. It wasn't until, while waiting tables, she met Paul Blade, a Sr. art director at McKinney & Silver in Raleigh, that she got a taste of the advertising world. She got her foot in the door in the account services department for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. In time she became the executive assistant to the Creative Director, David Baldwin. "I wanted to be a writer so badly and David encouraged me to join the Creative Circus in Atlanta. It was the hardest two years of my life, but it absolutely transformed me and developed my advertising skills."
Coming back to McKinney, she had the opportunity to shoot a Lands' End commercial in Chicago. Within months of that experience, she took a job as an art director for DDB Chicago, where she spent the next four years traveling all over the country. "I loved my job. There was not a day I did not look forward to going to work. I learned something every day and it was fantastic." Working on clients like Midas, State Farm, Capital One, McDonald's and Aveeno, Laura's range of expertise grew stronger and she won several national awards. She learned how to integrate campaigns and work with photographers, directors, post, print houses. DDB even encouraged her to take up improve at the renowned Improv Olympic. "They considered it continuing education. You know, developing interpersonal and presentation skills. I called it home!" After four years in Chicago, Laura's mom was having health issues, so she moved to Black Mountain and bought her grandparents' house. "Moving closer to home was the best decision at the time."
For the next eight months, Laura free-lanced and kept networking. Then she received a call from Wray Ward in Charlotte. "I had to get back in the game, and Charlotte wasn't too far from home." Working at a much smaller agency, Laura learned once again to adapt. "Smaller clients have a much tighter budgets, and much more input into the creative process, which is both interesting and challenging. That was an experience, working for a government based client. I definitely left my comfort zone and learned to adapt."
In 2009, Laura moved back to Black Mountain, once more returning to freelancing. This time, she turned her focus more towards working with the entrepreneurial community. "I had quit chasing the glitz and the glamor and decided to be move involved in the community I lived in. A community full of entrepreneurs trying to make a living. Like me." Her projects were very diverse. No typical accounts. Nothing creatively driven she wouldn't do. Laura dove into publishing, working with Lark Books on a project, and then helping authors self-publish. She took on projects shooting photography for and art directing for her neighbor's magazine. The list goes on. "I was designing signs for the Black Mountain Beautification Committee, brochures, websites, CD Covers for musicians, nothing necessarily award winning, but it sure felt great!" The experience truly illustrated the contrast between corporations and small businesses, entrepreneurs and the local community and how much they need professionals to help them.
"Running a freelance business is tough and lonely at times. There would be days when I would yearn for interaction with other creative people. And then there was having to ask people to pay me appropriately for my services. I think a lot of professionals have a hard time doing that. A friend of mine would tell me 'You're not their banker', how true that is, yet is a constant problem for many companies."
These challenges brought her to the realization that she wanted to become a better sales person. "I really had no formal training in sales, so I looked to find a sales opportunity where I could learn and still leverage my advertising and graphical background. This was when I came across the opportunity with Asheville Signarama. Their tag line – 'The way to grow your business' really resonated with me. And come to find out, Asheville Signarama is more than signs; visual advertising is key!"
Laura began working with Asheville Signarama in October 2015. Since joining, Laura has also taken on the role of Co-president of the Asheville chapter of the American Advertising Federation. "What a wonderful way to be involved with my community. It's going to be an exciting year."
This article celebrates her first anniversary with Asheville Signarama. "I am truly celebrating. It's a great environment, we do stellar work, and again, I get to work on so many branding projects for so many local companies. I can't think of anywhere else I'd want to be right now. Here's to many years to come."
About Asheville Signarama
Asheville Signarama is Western North Carolina's full service sign company. Asheville Signarama is an independent, locally owned company which has quickly risen to the forefront of WNC's sign needs. With over a century of experience in sign design, marketing expertise, manufacturing and installation. Asheville Signarama can tackle even the most difficult and challenging projects with spell binding results. Visit http://www.signarama.com/
Disclaimer: This press release is for information purposes only.