The story behind
BJS DESIGN STUDIO
BJS Design Studio is the freelance graphic design venture of Brian J. Schmidt, first opened on January 12, 2017. With an industry history spanning the past two decades, I am a go-to source for print and web design for marketing purposes.
November 1997–January 1999:
In November, I moved to North Carolina to take a paid internship, which turned into a contract freelance position, with Qualex Inc. (a Kodak subsidiary). My main responsibilities included making edits to existing layouts and production files, and preparing final mechanicals for print. A lot of “grunt work,” basically (I was the newbie, after all).
January 1999–December 31, 2016:
As print started to disappear and digital photography took over, Kodak restructured their company and disbanded the creative department at Qualex, so it was time to find new work. Luckily, a co-worker knew some folks who were looking for a new designer. So, in January 1999, I interviewed at and was hired by Azalea Graphics, a small design studio/service bureau, also in Durham. Working closely with our Creative Director, I became responsible for all phases of design/production, from concept to completion. It soon became apparent that I didn’t need much handholding, so I was handed the reins on many projects over the years.
As time went by, the landscape changed in several ways, and I became one of the two senior designers of the shop in my later years with the company. There were several good years in there, but Azalea Graphics eventually decided to close for good at the end of 2016.
We had the pleasure of working with several clients over the years, including small, local companies and large, national organizations (Pennzoil-Quaker State, Duke Health, Tar Heel Sports Properties (Learfield), The V Foundation and LORD Corporation, to name a few).
January 12, 2017:
With the end of Azalea Graphics, I had a choice on my hands: look for work with another company or become a freelance designer. In the end, I loved the thought of remaining local, thus avoiding the 45-minute (one way) commute, as well as being my own boss, establishing my own business structure and policies, and so I decided that I would do my own thing.
I have been extremely fortunate to continue working with some of the same great clients I had worked with while at Azalea Graphics, and I’ve picked up some new ones. I completed nearly 200 design projects in 2017, and I look forward to many more as I continue to grow and help even more clients promote and expand their business through effective graphic design.