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Life & Work with Matt Madsen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matt Madsen.

Hi Matt, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I’m originally from a small town in Northeastern Colorado. Growing up, I always loved art and drawing, and I played just about every sport I could. By the time I got to high school, I had traveled to tournaments and camps, essentially playing basketball ten months out of the year. But after I sustained an injury my junior year, I turned my focus back to art and knew I’d enjoy my future work if I could somehow combine art with sports. In my mind, graphic design was the best opportunity for me to be able to do that. So I knew I wanted to be a creative designer before I graduated high school. The rest was taking the necessary steps to make that happen. My first career job out of college was as a production designer at a non-profit. After a few promotions, I moved on and worked for a big sports and entertainment company in Denver as a senior graphic designer and was able to work on ads and logos for outdoor television shows and networks. But my wife and I had always felt a pull to Austin, and after getting a reply 20 minutes after my first application to a job out here, it was pretty much confirmation that this was going to become home. I’ve also been able to freelance for some pretty neat clients along the way too. One of the most rewarding projects I’ve completed recently is reviving a pro rugby team brand.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has not always been a smooth road. But you value what you fight for and fight for what you value. In fact, I think a lack of adversity would probably get my hackles up more than anything else. I haven’t landed a lot of the jobs I’ve applied to, and passion projects have traditionally taken up a fair amount of real estate in my portfolio. I graduated from college in 2008, and the job market wasn’t very good. In fact, my first job after college was pushing carts in a Walmart parking lot. I freelanced and gained design clients by word of mouth, which eventually got my foot in the door to my first full-time design-related job. Career-wise, I’ve really had to scratch and claw for what I have. And I think everyone encounters their own difficulties in one way or another. But my wife is also a five-time cancer survivor, so as difficult those seasons were, they really helped me put my life in the proper perspective and prioritize what is actually important here. After all, if the only thing people can say about me when my clock runs out is “He was a really good designer,” I did it wrong.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
Although I graduated with a degree in graphic design, and that’s where the majority of my strengths lie, I’ve taken it upon myself to learn to be a bit of a jack of all trades. I’m familiar with a little bit of everything: coding, video production, photography, social media, even being a mascot. The more arrows you have in your quiver, the more valuable you are to your clients. And I owe the world the very best I have to offer. Project-wise, I’m most proud of a redesign concept I did for the Los Angeles Rams. It wasn’t chosen, but it was considered, and it was only considered because of the relationships I’ve been able to develop with my coworkers as well as standing up for my work and believing that it’s just as good and just as valid as what a big agency could deliver. But overall, I’m most proud of being someone that other people know they can count on. Being flaky isn’t really in my nature.

Any big plans?
I’m currently a senior creative in the marketing department of Southwestern University, and I really enjoy my work. My family loves Georgetown, and I love the people on my team. There’s a great work-life balance, which I value more than anything, so there’s more time with my wife, son, and fly fishing in my future. I’ve recently been in the driver’s seat as the creative lead of our athletics brands a bit, so I get to scratch that sports itch and help contribute to an experience that changes people’s lives for the better. There’s a lot of work to do, and that will never change, but none of it is “selling” or “advertising”—the place sells itself, we get to be the curators and tellers of its stories.

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Image Credits

Jeff Teicher Colorado Raptors Rugby

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