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Daily Inspiration: Meet Erik Quigley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erik Quigley. 

Hi Erik, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
I’ve been designing all my life. I started out early in school with a large interest in the fine arts – drawing, painting, sculpture – and was selling pencil portraits at around 8th grade. High school brought an interest in drama. My high school’s drama department had been dead for a while so I accidentally ended up being a big part of the reinstatement of that. I did the scenic design and then was usually involved in all the other aspects throughout those four years. Because of that experience, I went on to a conservatory in Virginia to study Scenic Design. Being young, I ended up dropping out after my sophomore year and moving to Florida. 

It was here that I changed fields and found an interest in graphic design. I had a lot of resistance at first because I felt like graphic design was what real artists did who couldn’t make it. It ended up being the perfect marrying of everything I love. I finished my bachelor’s and slowly, during a 2-year stint in New York City, my graphic interest graduated into a defined perspective on branding and I’ve continued on that path since. 

I’ve been working solely in branding (strategy, identity, etc.) for several years now. I’ve since built up the framework and support for a boutique agency called Uncommon Crowd – working with clients and companies across different industries to define their brand and how they convey that to their audience and the world. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Yes and no. When you’re offering to define a brand image for your clients, there is a huge pressure to have your own identity crystal clear. And, like any business, I’ve had the same hurdle – defining something so personal. Only recently have we made a leap to change our original identity and brand to align more specifically with who I am, the creatives I work with, and who we really want to serve. 

Beyond that, building an agency has its own challenges. Every hire you bring on is a gamble until trust is built. We’ve had wonderful growth over the past few quarters which has led to an influx in work and a need for scaling. There isn’t a book for this stuff so I’m learning to lean into the challenge and keep an eye out for curveballs. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Creativity in business is restrictive. There are all these ideas on ‘good design’ and ‘bad design’ and ‘rules’ on professionalism and social media musts and must-nots. It makes for a space rather unconducive for art and play. So that’s what I focus on – bringing that true authenticity and creative spark into the branding and business space through art, a dash of magic, and just a smidge of high-drama. 

These days everyone wants to be ‘on trend’ or look like so and so. Unfortunately, what has happened is this enormous sea of sameness. Branding is about so much more than a logo and a website. It’s about nostalgia and life experience and feeling. You’re connecting with humans, so your brand needs to communicate on that level. And, while a lot of people believe that staying safely in your box will get you somewhere, quite the opposite is true. We’re not in middle school anymore. Fitting in is the opposite of success. You must stand out to breakthrough. 

I dig up the raw truth of a brand and translate that essence intuitively. Whether it’s minimal and modern or ostentatious with a lot of flash, it’s about what is right for the company and what is evident from the data and the passion of the people who started it. That’s how companies find their tribe and their true advocates, so I help to facilitate that. 

Tactically, my agency creates foundations for a brand’s personality, language, messaging and produce all of the visual components: logos, identity systems, websites, etc. We devise the humanity of a brand so a company can go on to make strong decisions in marketing efforts, product development, partnerships, and even hiring. 

I continue to dip my toe into new avenues associated with the agency and have recently branched into production shoots, marketing efforts, social media management, and even talent representation. I’ve got my sites set on a full-service creative agency and she’s just about in full force. 

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
Faith. It’s about believing in yourself when no one else does. It sounds so cliche but it’s the truth. Faith in yourself is how everything else is worth it: the long hours, the determination, the frustration, all of it. If you don’t believe in yourself and have faith that you can persevere even when no one else is with you, it won’t happen. Faith is the seed that keeps everything else growing.

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Image Credits:

Matthew Holler

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