Creative Director & Partner, Tank Design
I’m Geoff and I’m a designer. Officially, I’m Creative Director and Partner at Tank Design. We’re a branding, experience design and marketing agency based in Cambridge MA and San Francisco CA. I believe design has the power to move people, to be felt, and therefore, the power to change the world. I was born in Dublin. I’ve lived in Amsterdam, London and now in Boston. These places have shaped who I am as a designer. I’m inspired by the rich literary culture of Ireland, Dutch people value good design more than anyone else, London feels like the center of the world when you’re there and now, in Boston, I’m surrounded by the smartest people I’ve ever met. I’ve known I wanted to be a designer since I was a little kid, and I’ve been a student of design ever since – I continue to learn every day. I also love to skateboard, I’m not very good at it, it’s maybe the only thing I do that’s harder than design.
I’ve known I wanted to be a designer from a very young age – 6 or 7. I didn’t know what design was but I was drawing letters and making posters in my second grade art class. I really figured out what it was when I was about fifteen. I must have designed 1000 t–shirts and logos – not many of them were any good but it’s how I started honing my craft. Design can be a tough industry to break into, in order to succeed, you have to be devoted and passionate about design as a practice.
People are starting to understand that experience is brand and brand is experience. All agencies need to be fluent in digital but agencies that are fluent in digital and really understand brand will be most relevant. Technology and channels change fast having a solid brand platform and experience principles empower brands to keep up with change and remain part of meaningful conversations.
Tank helps brands understand who they are and how they need to present themselves to the world through their experiences – digital and beyond. If you want to build deep, resonant connections with your customers, you should work with Tank. We turn organizations into iconic brands.
I try to help people understand the gravity of the work they’re doing and the impact it has. Design has the power to move people and therefore change the world. In our industry. with our clients, we have the opportunity to make real impact. I believe being a designer is a privilege and I try to remind people of that.
Focus on developing your craft, not climbing ladders. Don’t develop checklists for how to get to the next level – that will come when you’re good enough. Figure out how to make a positive impact on the people around you. Solve problems, don’t create them.
I’ve always had a pretty healthy fear that I’m faking it, that this next project is going to be the one where I fail. It’s never happened but it’s what keeps me up late, making sure every detail is perfect. It’s what motivates me to do my best work.
I used to think that success meant being happy. I’ve come to realize that it’s not just important to be happy, it’s important to do good and to leave the word a better place than when we entered it. I want to raise my kids to understand that. Bringing three new people into the world is a big responsibility – I have to make sure they have a positive impact.
My aspirations for Tank are that we continue to grow at a pace that allows us to make bigger impact through and for our clients. We already work with some of the world’s biggest brands but I’m confident there isn’t an organization out there that wouldn’t benefit from our approach to brand, experience and marketing. I want to work with the companies who are going to change the world.
I also want to constantly get better at skateboarding – I think it’s really important to do something that’s purely visceral. My work is often intellectual and academic. Skateboarding allows me to focus on something that’s purely physical and expressive – it’s like therapy.
I’ve managed to build a successful career out of something I love without having to pretend I’m someone I’m not.
Honestly, I’ve been pretty fucking lucky. Sure, I’ve had challenging moments but the good times definitely outweigh the bad.
“Be aloe not ego.” It reminds me to listen more than I speak – it’s amazing how the world changes when you use your ears more than your mouth.
I try to remind myself that I have more than a job, I’m lucky I get paid to do what I love. When work gets tough, I always try to remember – “It beats working for a living.”
Work hard and be nice to people.
A Day in My Life:
What are you doing at:
6:00 AM – I wake up at six. I try to make sure my kids get a positive start to the day. The way they wake up has a dramatic impact on how their day goes. I check my calendar to see what meetings lie ahead and make coffee before I leave the house.
Most days I go to the skatepark before work, it clears my mind and it definitely beats going to the gym. I usually get to the office around 8 unless I’m travelling for work, in which case I get to Logan at some unreasonable hour – consistently shocked by the fact traffic is crazy on 93 South at 5.30am.
10:00 AM – At this point my day is in full swing and I’ve likely answered way too many emails already. By this time I make sure that anyone who needs direction from me has what they need so they can get after it. Every Monday I meet with the leadership team at Tank to make sure we’re set up for a successful week.
12:00 PM – Favorite Lunch spot/meal?
I’m mostly guilty of working through lunch which I don’t think is healthy. I’ll grab something from Flour or the food trucks near our office. If I do take time to eat out, I’ll go to Le’s in Allston for Pho.
7:00 PM – Hopefully I’m home from work in time to hang out with my wife and kids. We try to eat dinner together, away from screens. Hopefully I have time to skate with them or shoot hoops. We love watching the Celtics together.
11:00 PM – I have three boys under seven so I’m normally fast asleep at this stage. If I’m not, I think it’s important to get out and see my friends. I try not to go to clubs because I’m too old for that shit but I love a good dive bar, especially if they have good beer.
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?
I drink too much coffee and not enough water. I also have a personal rule that if I see a green drink like a smoothie, I have to drink it.
At the end of the day, I love an IPA – I’m a big fan of Evil Genius and Lord Hobo Brewing Companies.
Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?
• Delta, Hertz, Notes, Google Drive, Alto’s Adventure.
• @itsnicethat, @anthonyburrill, @fanakapan