Building iconic brands and defining a new kind of design agency is what keeps Alex Center up at night. Alex has not only been a huge inspiration to me but also a mentor in many ways and I am so happy to have him join me on this episode of the podcast. We discuss his short resume that lead him to work for and with brands like Vitaminwater, Coca-Cola, New Balance, Conbody, Kin and much more.
Jon Sorrentino: On this episode I'm excited to welcome the founder and creative director of center, a brand and design agency based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Prior to starting his own creative studio, Alex spent over 10 years as a creative director at Coca Cola, and before that, he helped grow what is now known as one of the most influential beverages, vitamin water.
Alex, thank you so much for joining me today.
Alex Center: [00:02:04] What's going on Jon, how are you?
Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:05] I'm good. Thank you for welcoming me into your new studio.
Alex Center: [00:02:09] Thanks for coming here.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:10] I think this is now almost. When we first met, this is like somewhat cheating for us because we probably met around the same time last year. You were in a smaller studio.
Alex Center: [00:02:18] Okay.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:18] You had just started center. It's true and now we're here in the office has grown twice the size. You now have a team and things are moving.
Things are moving. It wasn't just two people.
Alex Center: [00:02:28] It feels like we met both last week and like 40 years ago.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:32] This is very true.
Alex Center: [00:02:33] I'll take your word for it. That it was a year.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:35] Uh, I think so. Yeah.
Very similar to that. Like this night that we're in now.
Alex Center: [00:02:39] That's true you came by and we met for the first time. We spoke for a while. I kind of laid out my vision and my plans for the company that I was trying to build and yeah, it was really just like me and Pete and like one other person.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:51] Exactly.
Alex Center: [00:02:51] And here we are. No, it's really exciting.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:53] The studio is based here in Brooklyn. In Greenpoint. Yep. You grew up in Oceanside, New York. Out on long Island. Yep. Uh, your mother was an artist also maybe described as a, as a hippie.
Alex Center: [00:03:05] I do classify her as that.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:03:06] And your dad was a dentist?
Alex Center: [00:03:08] Yeah. Do you want to say something really funny?
So my mom is actually retiring at the end of this year, which is really, really exciting. She's been working at a Jewish community center and. This is her retirement party invitation.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:03:19] Designed by...
Alex Center: [00:03:20] I did not design it. Oh. So I didn't design it. And so this is a podcast, so this is really immediately bad radio.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:03:27] We'll put this somewhere.
Alex Center: [00:03:29] What I'm showing, Jon is a invitation that I can only describe as a celebration of hobo the typeface. And, uh, hippie sort of like San Francisco film or theater, uh, design from the 70s in a non ironic way.
Where did your mom
Jon Sorrentino: [00:03:48] get this?
Alex Center: [00:03:49] Imagine someone at her like company put this together, like her graphic designer, their vibe. This, this is what, this is the vibe of my mom.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:03:57] Do you get the, the maker in you from your mother?
Alex Center: [00:03:59] Yeah, 100%.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:04:00] She's like the art director for this invitation that we'll, we'll have somewhere on either social media or the website.
Alex Center: [00:04:05] I don't know how much involvement she had in this particular invitation. But I just think, I love that this is like, someone was like, okay, we got to make an invitation for Joanie, who is my mother, her like retirement celebration and this is what came out of it.
Because, um, the like younger graphic designers in the studio, like they might also make something that was just like, this. But like for a modern, like sort of beverage brand, this is a completely non-ironic use of hobo and flowers and 150 different colors.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:04:34] There is a flyer for the retirement. So your mother is thinking about this marketing and design in some way.
Alex Center: [00:04:39] I don't know how much you thought about this. Uh, she's definitely thinking about more about what she's going to do once she retired as truth. Ironically or not, ironically, is actually she wants to go back to painting, which is something that makes me want to cry. Like I'm just so excited for her because when I was first born, she took a lot of time off and um, she was doing like painting and drawing and she does calligraphy and that was sort of like her like passion.
And then she started working for this community center and she was like, a TA. Like a teacher assistant, like literally the lowest job you can have. And then she, uh, has been working there for almost 25 years, and she's now the GM president of the community center, which has like a $5 million budget or whatever, and a lot of responsibility.
And now she's retiring to like go back to like her. Love of art.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:05:27] But pick up the creative roots again.
Alex Center: [00:05:28] Yeah and so I couldn't be happier for her.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:05:31] So she was doing that stuff when you were younger? Yeah. And that's sort of, I'm guessing there was some kind of drive or that kind of influenced you in some way.
Alex Center: [00:05:39] I think I just found it fun. I've said this before, but like, it's sort of what we would do, like drawing and painting together was like an activity of enjoyment because I just was like pre-internet, pre like video game, like lifestyle. Yeah, I mean it's like a, a simpler time, but like, you know, taking out like watercolor paints and like putting like a glass on the table and like trying to draw it or paint it.
It was like sort of our bonding as you know, as in my childhood and something that we did together. And I think the, you know, sort of our artistic ability is somewhat and comes through like DNA to a certain extent. I think people do, someone inherit it. I don't think you have to have artistic ability to be an artist.
I just think that they'd be able to sort of like draw and paint, and some of that stuff does come through sort of genes, and so I always felt like I had a special gift because I could do some of that stuff and it came from her.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:06:43] You have this influence from your mother, your dad being a dentist. Yeah. You, I think early on decided that dentistry was not for you.
Alex Center: [00:06:50] Yeah. No, I'm just like, you know, my mother and father like are very, uh, you know, different sort of type of people. And yeah, I mean, I think when you're young and you're trying to figure out what you want to do in life, like you kind of go with what feels right and like what you think is like the path for you and like a little bit of what makes you feel good.
And I was not a particularly like a fantastic student in science or, you know, I did a OK and some math classes, but I was always the kid in the art class that like, that was the place, like in the room where I was, you know. I mean I was confident, let's just say in that room and felt good about like, you know, taking our classes in elementary school and high school.
And like I remember I would draw pictures of the girls in my classes to try to impress them. Cause it was like the only thing.
Yeah. Cause it's like, you know, it was like my way of like,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:44] here's my love note
Alex Center: [00:07:45] Flexing my like ability. Yes. You know, you're not a great athlete and you're not the most handsome guy, and I was never the most fit, and I had this skill and I was like, okay, how am I, how do I use this?
And ironically, that's how I, that's how I got my wife.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:08:01] So I mean, I'm glad that that came about.
Alex Center: [00:08:04] It's the only way I've ever known how to like attract women.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:08:08] So you go through your, your kind of like preliminary school, high school being influenced by art, being influenced by your mother, taking our classes, filling that up.
I'm sure. I definitely know that I did myself.
Alex Center: [00:08:19] Yeah. Were you like able to like not take more Spanish classes by taking more art class?
Jon Sorrentino: [00:08:25] I would fill up on the art classes. Totally. I'd be like, okay cool. I could take two art classes this semester. A gym class and then one like English class.
Alex Center: [00:08:32] Yeah, exactly. I was the same kid.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:08:35] You feel confident cause you're like, Oh man, I know exactly what I need to do here.
Alex Center: [00:08:39] Yeah. Also I was like painfully shy and like. Totally wasn't the most confident kid. And so like having a place where you're like, the teachers are nicer to you there cause they're like, gauge cause you're like, Oh wow.
Like, you know, someone thinks I'm special in this room and like they didn't treat me like that in the math classroom. Or like, you know, any other classroom.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:08:59] Did you have an idea. Coming out of high school that you wanted to continue?
Alex Center: [00:09:03] Yeah.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:09:04] So you knew that you were going to start looking. I mean, for me, for example, like I didn't have any clue.
It was like, to your point, I was like good at one other class other than art, and it's like math.
Alex Center: [00:09:13] Okay.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:09:14] And I was just like figuring it out still thinking about being an engineer. And I went to community college for two years before figuring out that I wanted to continue down that path. Yeah. What were you thinking at that time?
Alex Center: [00:09:23] I knew it was like my path. And I honestly think if all the things I'm like uh, incredibly grateful for in my life. I've had, you know, amazing opportunities and like I'm incredibly lucky in some instances, like the thing that I look back on, I'm like, I'm just so thankful and that I found my path really early and then I've never really even wavered from it.
I just was like, okay, this is my thing. This is my passion. This is what I think I'm good at and I'm just going to take it. Where wherever it takes me and no, after high school I had like a portfolio of like paintings and drawings of, like applying to like schools to get into the art program. How did, I didn't know what like what profession I was going to like, like manifested into.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:10:05] I went into painting. Like after school I was like, yeah, I'm gonna. I'm going to do this.
Alex Center: [00:10:09] Yeah. I was never the best painter, so I didn't like, I, I knew that enough. Like I wasn't going to be like a fine art painter.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:10:16] Sure. How did you end up at SUNY Buffalo?
Alex Center: [00:10:18] Yeah, so for me, growing up in New York and being a new Yorker, I wanted to go to a school that wasn't an art school. Uh, I didn't want to go to SVA or Pratt or any of these sort of New York Parsons like, like art schools, because I. As much as I knew I w that was my path.
I also wanted to go to sort of a, a school that gave me a sort of full experience of like taking different types of classes and meeting other people at college that weren't just like me. And so I applied to, uh, mostly, you know, sort of like a general, sort of a liberal arts leaning, but really just, you know, sort of big universities.
I always was excited about going to, like, I'm a sports fan. Sure, yeah. Yeah. Going to football games, going to sports games, like going to like, you know, uh, going to parties, I guess. You know, I just like, I wanted the college experience and I felt like if I went to art school and I went to some school that was just a bunch of artists, I didn't feel like I was going to get that experience and
Jon Sorrentino: [00:11:21] I did the same thing.
Alex Center: [00:11:22] Yeah.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:11:23] I ended up going to big state school in Jersey. Because I was almost like afraid that I wouldn't have that like college experience you grew up watching on TV going
Alex Center: [00:11:32] It just looks like fun, you know? And I also wanted to get kind of far away from home. So Buffalo was like a state school. It was eight and a half hours away and it had a little bit of a
Jon Sorrentino: [00:11:43] That's a hike.
Alex Center: [00:11:44] Yeah, it's far, but it's cold, but I wanted to go somewhere where I could get like a college experience and I applied to the art school to pursue that. But. Yeah. I wanted that sort of college experience.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:11:56] And you mentioned you met your wife, your now wife Jacqueline. Who I had the pleasure with talking to for the podcast as well.
Alex Center: [00:12:03] Yes.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:12:04] Very much enjoyed what she's doing with shhhowercap and talking about her experience.
Alex Center: [00:12:08] Yeah.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:12:09] How did you romance her? Was that another drawing you had said?
Alex Center: [00:12:12] Not a drawing, but actually, Jackie, uh, is a few years younger than I am. And so I was. Uh, her and I were both studying sort of communication design and sort of the computer lab is where our first sort of interactions and relationships starts.
You went to reach
Jon Sorrentino: [00:12:27] for the mouse and her hand was,
Alex Center: [00:12:28] Actually it's not that far off. The story, ironically was that she was working on, she's going to kill me for telling me this story, but she was working on a layout for one of her, like editorial classes, and it was a, it was a piece about Ashley Olson. Not Mary-Kate. Just Ashley. She was doing this whole layout, and it was all black and white. And then she had a little bit of color in some of like the headlines. And so the photos were black and white. And so I came over to her computer and then suggested that she cut out the eyeball in, uh, the portrait and just use the color in the eyeball as green and leave everything else as black and white.
And I kind of showed her how to do it with like the pen tool and like hue saturation and like legitimately that is.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:13:24] That kicked it off.
Alex Center: [00:13:25] That is the first sort of like moment of
Jon Sorrentino: [00:13:28] A little art direction here. Sprinkle.
Alex Center: [00:13:30] Exactly. It was the same exact thing. It's like the same confidence of me like being the kid that could draw like, you know, somewhat real realistic portraits in elementary school.
It's the, that was the college version of it. It's like, let me show you how to do this trick in Photoshop,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:13:46] And since then, you know you're now married.
Alex Center: [00:13:48] We are married.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:13:49] Jacqueline has now started her own company called shhhowercap, which by the way. I'm a huge fan. She, she gifted me one.
Alex Center: [00:13:54] Amazing and you have the hair for it.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:13:56] Can I tell you that my head has never felt better.
Alex Center: [00:13:58] Oh my God. Oh, I love it.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:14:00] I love, I love, I love it.
Alex Center: [00:14:02] Testimonial.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:14:03] But she had mentioned going through that process of starting her own company, you were very much there to support her and some of the early designs and...
Alex Center: [00:14:11] Well. She did all the designs, and I always want to make this like perfectly clear.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:14:15] Absolutely.
Alex Center: [00:14:15] Because I think people sometimes assume that I worked on it more than I did. I mean, her background is, like I said, we both went to school for communication design. We went to the same school and so he brands, her tone, her colors, her logo, her type faces, every single part of her brand is constructed and designed by her.
I had nothing to do with it. I stuffed envelopes and say, you know, brought the boxes. Uh, you know, for the first, uh, pre-orders to the mailbox.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:14:45] No, I think that speaks to Jacqueline's personality, but to know that you were there to support her in a way, watching this brand grow into what it is now.
Alex Center: [00:14:53] Yeah. I mean, I've said this before and it's a marathon.
You can see all the work that they do and you see them do it. You're like, Hmm. Like I, you start to think. You start to think that it's maybe possibly within your capabilities, because you know, you've seen someone kind of go through the motions of doing it.
And so, um, I was working at Coke the entire time in which she was in development and then through launch and, um, you know, watching her do it and, you know, sort of have the success that she's had, um, really sort of made me reconsider my career in a way, but also, you know, sort of inspired me, but also made me feel like I could do it.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:15:34] As you said, you were very much inspired to then begin your own journey in that way. Before we jump into that, I want to ask you a question cause I think this'll be one. You have one of the shorter say resumes out of a lot of my guests. In terms of like having experienced here and there, before we jump into that, I want to ask what do the Knicks have to do to have a winning season?
Alex Center: [00:15:54] Oh, the New York Knicks. Oh my God. Fire everyone. Change owners and uh, you know, start the long rebuilding process. A little bit of luck wouldn't hurt, I think, you know.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:16:06] A sprinkle of luck here and there now
Alex Center: [00:16:07] Some NBA draft ball to land our way, which we have not been lucky with.
At this point I'm pretty disheartened with the New York Knicks. I think we're pretty far off. I used to get my hopes up like every now and then, like or at the beginning of each season, I'd be like, well, maybe this is the year where the guys are going to start to like.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:16:24] Maybe someone will make a good decision.
Alex Center: [00:16:25] Yea or no, just maybe like. Maybe we'll like sneak up on people and like, we'll just be like that team that.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:16:31] Have a run at the end of the season
Alex Center: [00:16:33] Or just like no one saw us coming and we were just gonna like somehow be better than people think. And man, have I been disappointed?
Jon Sorrentino: [00:16:40] Sure. I ask cause you know, that was one of the first internship one and only internships you've had.
Alex Center: [00:16:46] Yeah. My resume is incredibly short.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:16:48] And you've had this love. Hate relationship, I guess with the next, from being a child or being younger in, during there to now. Right. Having a weird kind of trial as a team.
Alex Center: [00:16:58] Yeah I mean, I've always loved the Knicks. I mean, they're like the Knicks, the Mets are my two like sports, you know, sort of fandoms that rain above, you know, all, and yeah, it's been some hard years, but you know, the Mets have had a couple runs at it and the Knicks had, they really have been pretty bad.
I mean. My love of the knicks comes from like the, like nineties teams, like with Ewing and Mason and like, you know, Jon Starks and like the glory years of the Knicks. And uh, yeah, I mean, they just, they, it's, it's really sad because New York is such a basketball town and it's just, the product has been really, really. Pitiful. And uh, yeah, I hope they could find a way to turn around. But my, my, my expectations are pretty low.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:17:43] The internship that you had there, was that sort of like a bucket list item that you were able to knock off as a young designer at the time?
Alex Center: [00:17:50] No, I mean, I think for me, like I have always been infatuated with brands and I've always been infatuated with sports, uh, to a certain extent.
And so when I was in college and living, you know, in New York or in the suburbs of the city. My dream internship was to work for any of the brands that I loved. And so the idea of working for Nike or, or, or the Knicks or working for, you know, something that I was passionate about in my personal life or like what I was interested in, in sort of being a part of, and I thought that would be the coolest job.
Was it a bucket list thing? I don't know if I had a bucket list. I think I just had like a list of things I, I thought it'd be really awesome to work at a company that I like was passionate about and I was less passionate about like maybe like a lot of people, uh, the young designers, like their passion is to work for Pentagram or their passion is to work for, um, you know, a design studio.
And because they, or a famous designer or you know, a design instituition and I was less infatuated with design than I was infatuated with the Knicks. or Nike or Tommy Hilfiger or like brands that I thought were stand out at the time or the things that I was into. And so, you know, all right. Working for like a record label.
I remember that was one of my, like, uh, interns that I
Jon Sorrentino: [00:19:13] Because it was more of the record label. It was more about the record label.
Alex Center: [00:19:16] It was about music. Like, I'm passionate about music, I'm passionate about sports and passionate about fashion, like I'm passionate about these things, and so I want it to work for a company that was doing that more than I wanted to go work for a design studio.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:19:28] Eventually it leads you to Vitaminwater before it was acquired by Coke?
Alex Center: [00:19:32] Correct.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:19:32] And that was about a year or two years that you were there before Coke eventually acquired it?
Alex Center: [00:19:37] Yeah, about a year and some change.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:19:40] And before it decided to just sort of run into this. Vitaminwater is now so widely recognized that the two blocks of color, the bold text you spent over 10 years at Coke.
Alex Center: [00:19:51] Yep.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:19:52] The opportunities that come up with working for a corporation or for a bigger company like that, you're able to work with a ton of different partners. What is the thing that you sort of take away from those experiences that you then kind of put into your own practice.
What is, what do you learn from that?
Alex Center: [00:20:10] It's a great question. I've worked with a lot of really special people, and I think I'm now only realizing. How special a lot of those people were. And like the experiences that I had, even as like a 21 year old, 22 year old kid to being a 30 year old, you know, designer that got to work with like, you know, Brian Collins or got to work with like Wieden Kennedy and got to work with, um, pretty amazing people, you know?
And then also some of the amazing people that I worked with in like the very beginning when it was just like Mike Repole, who is the serial entrepreneur that's gone on to do a kind of other brands and build a ton of businesses. And then, you know, I worked with Rohan Oza, who is a shark on shark tank these days, and he's like gone on to sort of be a huge brand builder and you know, sort of the food and beverage category.
And so I take a lot from each individual person and each experience throughout the years and each one of them have taught me, so, you know, lessons and weird random sayings and things like that. There was a saying back in like Vitaminwater's early day was like, everything had to have steak and sizzle and it was just like a weird internal mantra for like our brand, which was like, the steak was like vitamins, you know, functionality of the products like taurine and like the actual functional beverage creds.
And then there was the sizzle, which was like the humor and the design and the voice and the celebrities and all the cool stuff that made us, you know, beloved. And so every project needed to have both steak and sizzle. And I was just like a way of keeping things not overly designed and not overly sort of fun, but without forgetting the product and selling what we're there to serve a purpose. Right. And I was in a meeting today, I mentioned steak and sizzle came up and I just was like, and they like, totally got it. They were like, yeah, we have a lot of steak, but like our sizzle is really bad. And I was like. Cool cause we, uh, we're in the sizzle business.
So little things like that. Yeah. I mean, big things. I mean, you know, obviously it's like, you know, how to build a brand and how to make connections with people at every touch point and everything that you do. And, you know, I've learned so much from all of the amazing people that you know at all different stages of the, of, of the run from Vitaminwater startup company to like Coca Cola global business.
And I say I got my masters in branding from like that experience. And that's the reason why I stayed for so long. Cause I felt like I was, it was still a lot to learn.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:22:46] You mentioned that at the very beginning you were younger, you were interested in the brand and then design second, and I think for some people it's usually a topic that's hard to battle with, especially as designers.
Where, you have this idea where you have to be the best designer, you have to be the best and maker. Maybe this is a result of your careers that you've come to be able to speak business as well and like how important is that in this wider landscape of design that people don't really get too much exposure from.
Alex Center: [00:23:13] Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of designers like that are obsessed with the craft. There's so many different types of designers. I don't want to just like bucket everyone in sort of like one statement, but like the craft of graphic design and like the typography or just like the details like really matter and I think they're really important and there are people that build careers off of those details and the craftsmanship of, of identities and the technical side of graphic design. But there's also a business side to the value of that work and a feeling and an exchange for attention, right? Like a lot of the work that we do is trying to get people to notice what we're trying to get people to notice.
Uh, you know, and a lot of my work has been in consumer products and CPG, as they say like. Yeah, you're a Pepsi guy. Um, so you get it. But there's another side of what we do that is about the value of design and how it builds business and the role it plays in business and the, you know, why, you know, what great brands are able to do and how they're able to attract people.
How they're able to sort of create, you know, value for companies, how other people see design. And I think for me being able to sit in the middle of that was really valuable because I like to get in the weeds of design and typography and the language of the craft. But sometimes, you know, you have to be able to talk the language of business and products and brand and why those little things are going to matter.
And I think, you know, a lot of designers that work inside of design studios maybe aren't exposed to that as much as I was.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:25:00] Being in a bigger business.
Alex Center: [00:25:02] Being, uh working inside of a company, like I was working inside of a business and like the end of the day, like that was how my design was being critiqued or sort of like the conversations I was in, the meetings I was in were not about the technical details or the finer intricacies of graphic design. It was about branding, and it was about sort of connections and about relationships and about tone of voice and personality. And you know what we were trying to get people to understand about our business and our brands and our products and those things.
And I think that just made me a better designer. Like I also used one typeface for a brand for like 10 years. You know what I mean? Like I wasn't super well versed in every type foundry from all around the world. Sure. And I didn't have to be. And I think that's kind of, for me now having a design studio, that was one of the things I had to educate myself about.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:25:51] You spent about 10 years at Coke. Over 10 years, and since then you've been able to open up your own studio called center, and you're on the verge of almost two years since opening and founding. Before I get to that.
Alex Center: [00:26:06] Yeah.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:26:07] I think it's probably pretty safe to say that there is some sort of passion for beverage in general that comes naturally for you.
Alex Center: [00:26:14] Of course.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:26:15] Before ever touching say getting to Coca-Cola or anything like that, and I think you end up sharing a lot of packaging design.
Alex Center: [00:26:22] Okay.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:26:23] Through social media and things like that and what catches your eye? Sure. Where does that come from?
Alex Center: [00:26:29] Yeah. It's funny, like when I talk about brands, I was like passionate about like how that led me to like want to work for the Knicks or like want to work at other companies like more than wanting to work for design studios. I was never passionate about beverages. Like I wasn't like a guy that was like obsessed with drinks. You know what I mean? But what I was obsessed with was a brand that had a super beautiful package design. Having a really great sort of like tone of voice, like really cared about design and like was also doing a lot of work with musicians.
50 cent was my entry way into Vitaminwater. 50 cent was one of my favorite rappers. It was big fan of hip hop. I still am. And 50 cent was walking around with this drink in his hand being like. This is my drink. You know what other rapper got his own beverage and I just immediately was like, that's cool. I want to drink that.
It looks amazing. You know what I mean? And so I was a fan of the Vitaminwater brand, and I think working in beverage. Uh, you know, after we were acquired by Coke and then working on Powerade and other drinks, you know, other brands within the Coke portfolio. I kind of fell in love with beverage as a category because I just think there's so many different brands and how they differentiate themselves, how they communicate on their labels, how they sort of.
Find a sort of corner of humanity to celebrate or too like lean into and there's just so much, it's such an interesting category from a brand and you know, so branding perspective, like if you go to whole foods right now, like there may be like five, six different types of pasta brands, like on the shelf maybe.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:28:17] It's not just Barilla anymore.
Alex Center: [00:28:18] Yeah, there's like five or six maybe now there's Banza, there's some, you know, there's some stuff, or like eggs. There's like, you know, your general sort of supermarket maybe has like four or five different types of brands. If you go into whole foods, there's like a 150 different types of enhanced beverages like sodas and kombuchas and waters and teas and sports drinks and for me, I just am romantic about all of them are sort of competing for the same person and just basically products are like slightly different, but again, at the end of the day, it's like what makes people connect to one or not the other is really the, the label, the brand and like how it speaks and connects with people.
And so I just love that it's very competitive and like a lot of it is based on the actual packaging and it's just a five second, 10 feet away from a cooler decision. And I just think that's like, I mean, not many categories are like that. And now that I'm working in other categories, like it's fun to expand away from beverage, but there's always going to be a soft spot in my heart for beverage.
And it's like we're working on a number of different beverage brands, and I'll probably be always be working on a beverage brand.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:29:24] So since opening the studio, you're almost touching on two years old now. Since launching the studio and talking about other industries, you've been able to bring life to an international soccer league.
You've been able to work with new balance on sports and basketball, and as you mentioned, bring life to a few standout beverage brands in the last year or so as well.
Alex Center: [00:29:44] Yeah, I'm having fun. Yeah, I think that's the piece. Like it's really fun to, you know, you say like I have one of the shortest resumes, like on LinkedIn it's three jobs, but really it's just two jobs.
You know what I mean? And like, um, uh, that's very, somewhat unique in today's worlds where people are like, changing jobs often and like have many different experiences. But I've always loved brands and I've always, for me to be able to work on like a project that the International Champions Cup where like our work is being sort of seen by millions of people and it's like, you know, we went to the summer matches in New York and like to see all of our work, the custom typeface, the logo, the patches, the in arena graphics all around the space.
It's just like, I feel like a kid again. I'm just like, it's that same feeling I had when I saw my first like Vitaminwater billboard in New York city. It's that same. Inner sort of excitement.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:30:38] Being able to work on those touch points that people then come into experience with this brand and then building that feeling and that kind of like emotion.
Alex Center: [00:30:47] Yeah. And seeing like you're working in the world. Like I, I've always designed more for people than for other designers. If won one award in my entire career, I don't design for the blogs and for like the Instagram pages, I actually want to build brands that like have impact and culturally relevance, relevant to brands.
And that's what Vitaminwater always was. Like. Vitaminwater was like a brand that you would see in movies like, and it wouldn't be paid sponsorship or like you would see like on the Simpsons being sort of like made fun of, or things like that. And you're part of something that's moving culture and like part of the zeitgeists and so, yeah.
I want to build brands like that now and to be able to do that from, you know, sometimes from scratch or sometimes like to work with a brand like new balance. As iconic as that brand is, I'm wearing a shirt with our logo on it right now. Like I bought this shirt from, I shouldn't have had to buy it, but I bought it from new balance.com this is our logo.
I stretched this type like this. You know what I mean?
Jon Sorrentino: [00:31:48] Alex is pointing it out to me.
Alex Center: [00:31:50] I'm wearing a shirt. It's bad podcasting, but like. Yeah, I mean, that's so fun. You know, I feel like we're just getting started and it's been almost two years, but it's both flown by and has felt quite like a while.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:32:03] I think, to focus in on just the international soccer league for a second. You're able to bring in so many touch points, have so many different pieces that you craft and for me as an onlooker from outside of the studio walls. The work is executed in a very high level of design, and I'm curious like how much of that is as a result of being able to have the experience in the industry versus say like someone who is maybe a younger designer looking to kind of execute at that level because they're really practicing but isn't able to obtain that sort of trust from a client.
Alex Center: [00:32:41] Yeah, I mean, I've always had really high standards for myself and for the work that I do, I think from Vitaminwaters, like everything doesn't have to go back to Vitaminwater, but like at Coke, like I had really high standards for what I thought was good and like whether it was work that I was doing myself, but like all their work that I held our like agencies and like partners in our, like I felt really connected to the, to the brand obviously. Cause I had been working there since I was 21 years old and I didn't want us to.
I put a lot of pressure on myself to do things that I think are really truly great. And that pressure to do that with my name on the door now is tenfold where I'm like, I want to open up a design agency and in the first year do work that I think is as good as my favorite design studios, best work that they put online.
And so that's
Jon Sorrentino: [00:33:34] Do you think that someone who's younger, there's a a way for them to get to that, or do they think that they have to kind of put in the years.
Alex Center: [00:33:41] Oh no, I think people. Like I work with people, you know, young designers that come right out of school, and some of them just have great taste. It's just like they just, they know what they like and they have high expectations for themselves or like they push themselves to do work that they think is a really great, I mean, I don't think it has anything to do with the experience.
I think it just has to do with sort of like what internal expectations are and also like what your taste level is at. And I think taste is something that designers don't talk about so much. But I think it's something that I absolutely hire for. I look for designers that like. They know what great is, and even if there may be not able to do it at that exact moment, but like they know where they're trying to get to and having taste and the work that they like, or the work that they, you know, the clothes that they wear, the brands that they sort of like put on their body.
Like, I think that's something that's really important. Outside of like a skill. I look for designers obviously that are very skilled at the sort of craftsmanship of the making, but I also, I have a number of other things I look for in designers that are not that, and taste is certainly one of them.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:34:41] When we first met the studio was pretty much you and Pete, another member of the team currently, and you guys have grown to a total of six.
Alex Center: [00:34:50] We're seven.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:34:50] Seven now. You touched a little bit on taste, but how are you finding talented people that you want to work with?
Alex Center: [00:34:57] Yeah, so I do a lot.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:34:58] How are they finding you as well?
Alex Center: [00:34:59] I do a lot of interviewing. What'd you say? Finding me? Yeah. Uh, yeah, I'm, I'm trying to find my center. That's what I say when I get really cliche. No, I mean, I interview with ton of designers and this is where I'll plug Working Not Working because those are the homies. And also because it's really, in my opinion, the best resource for finding designers, freelancers.
And, uh. Yeah. I'm on the hunt to do the best work of my career with people that I love to work with and people that are passionate and care about what they do. And I interview probably like three to five designers every week. Jon I called you in, I don't even know how we met, but like I see people out there doing cool stuff. I call them in to just like. Chop it up, meet them, talk to them, see what they're into. Like you're a perfect example. Like you had a job we met and I was like, you're doing cool stuff. I want to meet you. Maybe we work together in five years. Maybe I can convince you to leave your job. I'm just kidding. I didn't say that at all actually.
I said, you should stay at your job. You have a cool job. You have a great job at a beverage company. Obviously I'm biased, but I thought, you know, I was like. Hey, you're going to learn a lot there. But we met and so like I meet a lot of designers and if I could be sort of like helpful for them and their careers, I think that's great.
Like paying it forward is something, I think that's really important for me now that I'm at this position to be able to do that. And then trying to find those like diamonds in the rough designers that I want to work with. And it's really hard. But I've got some really good people here and.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:36:31] I was able to meet a little bit of the, you know, the team most of the team here and everyone all around good laughs. Good, good times.
Alex Center: [00:36:37] Yeah. I mean, I think you've got to have fun doing this thing, like, you know, otherwise it gets really, uh, you know, can become, feel like a job really quickly. You know, obviously we're incredibly blessed to be, you know, creative professionals and designers that like do something that's inherently fun and cool to do every day.
But you know, I think it's got a feeI, I'm also trying to build a culture. And so I try to find people like that are the right type of people to fit with me. And, um, my wife actually pointed this out to me and I didn't notice that at all. And she's like, actually the people that you've hired, all of them have some piece of your personality or your drive, or like a sliver of something that is a part of who I am. And I think, yeah, I look for people that are sort of unique and are, you know, most importantly, like have a really good attitude about this thing and like are passionate about the work and they come in every day and they're inspired, excited.
It's fun, but we work hard. And so I think my greatest achievement, like looking back over the last like two years, is like that I've been able to find six really awesome people that are this company.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:37:46] We kind of talked about how there's a level of trust with the clients and the partners that you end up working with. And I'm sure you know, if it's not at Center, maybe in the past, you might've experienced where a project is really exciting the person that comes up with the project is also really excited about this idea and that kind of like transfers to you. But then you hear the sad news of like, there's not really a budget and you know, how do you handle that?
Like is there a gauge of like, I think for every designer it's always that battle of like, well, there's no budget, so I get all the creative freedom. But like, realistically for you, how has that been running a business.
Alex Center: [00:38:23] Yeah. I mean, I think that's what I, you know, I spend my time, most of it, you know, I, I design less and less, but I do design for pretty much every project that we take on. But my number one job is to find the right people and partners for us to work with. And I thought from the beginning, I was like, this is the hardest part of you know, is to find clients. And we've been really fortunate to work with some pretty amazing people.
And you know, in my opinion, it's I want to work on projects that I'm excited about and sometimes those projects come with a big budget and you're like, amazing. This is perfect, right? You have a fully funded startup, or you got a fucking big brand that wants to do something cool and they come to you and it's from day one, it's easy.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:39:12] Rainbows and butterflies.
Alex Center: [00:39:14] Yeah, but they always have something that makes it a challenge later.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:39:17] That snake in the boot somewhere.
Alex Center: [00:39:19] Secret thing that you gotta get through. But you know, there are, for every one of those, there are a handful of projects that don't have the budget or don't have the perfect situation for us, and we do a handful of those as well.
And so it's not just about the money, like running a studio is about getting the right projects that like the whole team wants to work on. That's another thing that I do here that. I think is unique. Which is, we don't take on a client or a project unless I talk to the team about it.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:39:49] Yeah. There was a nice little huddle that I was able to experience where, uh, you know, you kind of explained the situation and everyone has a temperature read, you know, to kind of see.
Alex Center: [00:39:57] Yeah.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:39:58] And I think like the traditional studio, it's like, it's deemed that we're going to do this or not. Your piece now is more conversational. And you had even went ahead and said like. We don't have to do this right now. We can think about it giving, you know, the people that you work with more time to think about it.
Alex Center: [00:40:11] Yeah, I mean, I think that's unique, but it's also like I'm trying to build a great studio that we all want to work for. And so if I just say like, we're going to work on this project and you all have to love it, too bad, I don't think that's super considerate. Like I said, like I've worked really hard to find these people and so I want to, you know, once I finally, once I find them and like I, well, you know, we start working together.
It's like my number one goal is to like keep inspiring them with the clients and the work that we're doing, but also like to think about those types of things and to think about like the office that we're in or the partners and, uh, the other people that are in the studio with them. And like all the things that go into like making this a place that they are excited to come to every single day.
And so then I'm, one thing I think is like the work. And so sometimes we'll take a huge project and like everyone's excited about it. And then sometimes a little, there'll be like someone that's like, Hey, we just met with the founders and we like the people behind the project and hopefully, you know, we could take on a project and find a way to make it work where sometimes we do sprints or sometimes we do sort of like, we kind of are flexible in that way and we'll like, you know, if we really want to do something, we'll find a way to make it work.
And by having a smaller size team, like we're in a
Jon Sorrentino: [00:41:23] Pretty nimble.
Alex Center: [00:41:24] Yeah, we're not 50 people, so I try to keep like, you know, overhead low, try to keep the studio somewhat flexible too. Like if someone comes to us and has something that like, you know, we want to do, like we can do it. And my first client was a former convicted individual who opened up a fitness studio in the lower East side called Conbody.
He didn't have much of a budget, but I knew that the work and the brand that we were going to build together was going to be something I'd be talking about it for the rest of my life, and the value of that was going to be much more than any budget that he could possibly pay me. And it's turned out to be true.
I've talked about Conbody a ton, you know.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:42:02] It still stands out on, I've seen some of your keynotes and your talks, and it's a project that always comes up, I think very much because it's that valuable experience and exchange between the owner and the founder and yourself being able to kind of work on this as a birthing of a brand that is bigger than what they expected.
Alex Center: [00:42:20] Of course. And it exemplifies what I want to be doing, which is like building brands with entrepreneurs, small businesses, and make things that people care about, whether it's, you know, it's a purpose driven brand, which is, uh, you know, really important. But also it was sort of like, you know, it gets talked about on Saturday live and things like that.
And like. It's got a real story to tell. There's a lot of, I love brands like that. And so, uh, you know, that was one of my reasons for taking that project and then early on being like, this is, you know, this is the type of work I want to be doing, so to get this type of work in the future, I have to start doing it.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:42:53] You have to take a little bit of your personal time or something like that. There needs to be some kind of slight sacrifice in order to continue to use that as an example of what you're capable of?
Alex Center: [00:43:04] Yeah. I mean, and like the cool part about today is like, we're building lots of different brands in different categories and tons of things that I can't talk about at all.
Like, and I wish I could show you and I, you know, maybe I can show you after you know, off air, but you know, there's a lot of projects that haven't launched yet. There's a lot of stuff that is really exciting, but kinda can't.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:43:23] I want to definitely get to how you're able to work with these partners and these entrepreneurs, because I think that thinking has shifted from, you know, younger creatives that like, Oh, you know, having this freedom is so where I want to be.
You kind of talked a little bit about how you're sort of changing the culture of what a traditional design agency is thought of, where you're kind of giving more responsibility and trust among the people that you work with. And I'm curious if that's like just a result of hearing the constant like designing, like agencies drive you down and now like this is like what a new agency or a new culture for design is within like the last moving forward into 2020 or something.
Alex Center: [00:44:01] You know, it's funny, I wish I was like that sort of like, you know, sort of forward thinking and like this is the future of. Design studio is the actual truth of it is. I've never worked inside of it, a design studio. So my sort of like my ignorance to like how they run and I use that to propel me to do whatever I think is right.
And I sort of go from my gut as like a person. Like I put myself in these guys' shoes, like, what would I want from the studio that I work at every single day. Like I would want to have at least some say in the projects we take on. I want a leader that is not afraid to like roll up his sleeves and like get into it with me and like work with me directly.
I would also want someone that doesn't take every day and everything so seriously. Like I would want someone that like cares about me. And I also want to partner with brands. So the two sides of the studio from a vision perspective is like one, you know, I've never worked at one, so I don't know what they are like.
So I get to just kind of make it up. And two is like, and think about it from the perspective of the people that work here. And the other side is like, I've only worked as a client my entire career. So I think about what I would want a design studio to be like from a client perspective. And you know, what I really want is someone that's like in it with me.
That was always the best relationships that I had at Coke where like with agencies, they were separate companies, but it felt like they were part of the team. They were people that I knew and people that we went out to drinks and dinner with and people that became friends, but also could have a conversation that was not designed based at all.
Whether it's life or whether it's like talking about sort of like the business as a whole or the brand as a whole and stuff, and really, really truly being partners. And so that's why I actually don't like the term agency because like we're, we, you know, we, we, we work for people, but we partner with them and we are a design studio.
Uh, and you know what I mean? And I like, agency has this like agency, client relationship that, you know, again, I've been on both sides of now and I try to truly be the agency slash studio that I always wanted to work with. And, and that's what I think working with a lot of entrepreneurs in small businesses has enabled us to do is like, we're like in it with them.
And I have relationships with most of the founders that we work with personally. And those relationships are good relationships and they trust me and they call me and all hours of the night and texted me and email me. And like. But it's not just a design. It's not just a design project where like you go in, you get a brief, you go back and you make something, you deliver it and gone more than just, yeah.
I mean, I want to build, you know, the next Vitaminwaters. The next Coca-Cola was with people from a studio perspective.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:46:52] Do you think it's like center, the name pops up for entrepreneurs now having been able to work with a few partners as a result? Or is it something that your going out and actively seeking?
Alex Center: [00:47:02] This is just the beginning, like I think like I would love for that to be the thing where like entrepreneurs want to come to center because they know they're going to get a great brand that has soul to it and like has humanity and has brilliant design. That's the thing I look forward to like and I think we've gotten a little bit of that where people like.
You know, we worked with, uh, Kin as one of our partners and have done, you know, a couple of things for them. And I start to get people that are excited about working with us because they've seen that work. We didn't do the Branding, you know, we didn't do the identity, you know, and, uh, that feeling that you're talking about of like being a place that people go to for.
Uh, a certain type of brand, this certain type of design. Like I feel like we're just scratching the surface of trying to get that. And I can't wait until we have a couple of big wins under our belt. Where we've launched a brand is, you know, you know, important or as successful as like Casper or like create a streaming service or be the design partner for a streaming service that changes the way that music is listened to. Like Spotify, like, you know what I mean? Like those agencies that have done that work, that catapulted and changed the trajectory of their studios. And so we have not done that yet. Sure. You know, we're, we're on our way, but you know, you've got to take a lot of shots on net.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:48:16] You've got to take a lot of shots on that. Yeah, I very much agree with that.
Alex Center: [00:48:20] And I think in the beginning, I thought like the first three clients that we had, I was like, these three clients are the ones that are going to like define who we are. And like, I don't think outside of Conbody, I don't think I even, I haven't talked about the other two, you know what I mean?
Like those projects were great things that we did, but like. The work that it didn't define us in the way that I thought it would in the beginning. And so now my perspective is like, let's do a lot of amazing things, so let's find the right partners and take on the right projects and you know, see where it takes us.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:48:47] There's a lot of runway to come. I kind of want to get into that, like, yeah, besides this trajectory of continuing to work with great people, great entrepreneurs, great brands, and creating exciting things. Kevin had asked me to talk about this idea of a show.
Alex Center: [00:49:00] Kevin asked you?
Jon Sorrentino: [00:49:02] Kevin, is that his name?
Alex Center: [00:49:03] Yeah, no, of course. Kevin, Kevin, and my team. Yeah. I'll talk about the show. It's funny, it's like on our website and it's been like a huge part of like my back of the notebook idea for what I was building here. And so this feels like a good place to talk about it. Um, my vision for this company has always been to be a design studio that builds the next generation of icon brands, right?
So that's what we've been talking about, talking about startups, talking about building brands from scratch. And I listened to like three or five business pitches a week, like for people that have ideas. It's awesome. That part of it is still super fun for me to be like, I think there's a really good idea here.
We're going to build into a brand and then going on that journey and building a design studio that does that, that type of work. There's also an ambition for me to create some design focused content, and I don't want to get too far into it because I am afraid that like this was, when is this going to come out?
Jon Sorrentino: [00:49:56] The new year.
Alex Center: [00:49:57] New year, like how early in the new year?
Jon Sorrentino: [00:50:00] You'll be a queue. It'll probably be even closer to summer.
Alex Center: [00:50:03] Summer of 2020. Okay, cool. Then I can talk about that. Okay, cool. Well then hopefully if I haven't launched this that by then, then we have big problems and Kevin, who asked you to talk about it hasn't been doing his job, but, um, maybe we could talk about this a little bit more.
Um, you know, I didn't realize how far in the future this is going to be announced, but I feel like in the design community, there isn't a ton of content. There are obviously a lot of. Creative, amazing, talented people that make a lot of amazing work, but in a lot of industries that I love, whether it's music or sports or fashion, there's media companies and there's like podcast networks and there's just like a huge sort of like, there are a lot of people serving that audience with content and in the design community, there isn't a ton that really speaks to me. As I've said, I like, I've never been a designer that like, was obsessed with working at Pentagram. Like, and part of that is because I never felt like, I never felt like I connected with, you know, with Michael Beirut. I think he's one of the best living graphic designers, if not the best, but agreed.
Yeah. Um, but I, I never really connected with Michael because he didn't. Feel like in me. You know what I mean? And I think there's been a kind of shift in the communications media landscape where the experts and the professionals have been somewhat replaced by people that feel like they are part of the industry or how do I say, authentic, but, or more relatable voice for the community.
And so I look at websites like the ringer or vice or some companies that have had more of a for us by us type mentality. And it doesn't feel quite so precious. It doesn't feel quite so on approachable. And I think design has been very much in this space for the last 10, 15, 20 years.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:51:57] I still feel the same way where it's like almost. It's, I don't want to say pretentious but there is like a gated garden that you have to like walk through.
Alex Center: [00:52:04] Precisely.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:52:05] But have a few keys before that.
Alex Center: [00:52:06] Precisely. And I've always felt that way. And I think part of it is because I didn't go to like a tremendous art school. And like I think a lot of designers out there feel like it is a gated garden that they don't have the key to.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:52:18] I completely agree.
Alex Center: [00:52:19] And I think you could call it pretentious. I think that's a pretty heavy word. But I think, you know, it's, it's not that far off and it's always felt like. On attainable and something that didn't feel like I belonged in. And so I've been sort of, you know, thinking or sort of like in my head, I've always felt like there needed to be more content that spoke in a way that was.
Attainable or like, uh, not in the garden with, you know, and, uh, there are people out there that are doing it. I'm not saying that there is not any of it. I think there's, you know, I look at what like Chris has done with the futur. Like, I think there's, there are some pockets of, of it popping up where people are just sort of knocking down the walls of sort of like graphic design with a capital G and design with a capital D.
um. And I want to be a part of that. And I think for me, I've always wanted to sort of like the idea of like, um, and every man's design company has been rattling around in the back of my brain and I just can't let it go because I feel like it's just an underserved community, which is growing. I feel like there are more designers in the world than ever before.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:53:27] Do you think that there's like. So this is a question I always write on interviews. It's always something that I never really touched on because it's almost like a fear, but like, do you think nowadays that like do you have to go through a traditional program to get into design?
Alex Center: [00:53:42] Absolutely not.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:53:43] Right? I don't think that's even a thing like,
Alex Center: [00:53:46] No
Jon Sorrentino: [00:53:47] I know there are some places and organizations that kind of hold to those, what we'll say standards or kind of things in place, but almost like there's admiration for this alternate route that you can take.
Alex Center: [00:53:59] Oh, I absolutely like have a chip on my shoulder because I didn't go that route and I actually associate.
Like I like, I like people that are like yourself or like Kevin who went to like a state school and like didn't go that path.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:54:14] Even as further further away from that, like there's so many resources out there to learn where you don't go through a traditional school at all.
Alex Center: [00:54:20] And you could teach yourself how to be a designer just by watching the futur.
Like you absolutely can. And I. There are lots of people that do, especially people that are changing careers and, uh, the people that go to the school of YouTube. But I think. For me, I think the best way to be a designer to learn how to be a designer is by being a designer and by experience. Like just by purely working on different projects, working with different clients, working on different, you know, sort of environments.
It's like being at the table and meetings, presenting work, critiquing work. To be honest, there is that sort of like 10,000 hours, Malcolm Gladwell thing. So I think you could be, I mean, you could go and watch all of the YouTube videos in the world or like go to like a, you know, a Shillington type school or something like that.
Um, and like get the skills on how to be a designer, like the
Jon Sorrentino: [00:55:14] Kind of opened up the program and what the tools are
Alex Center: [00:55:17] You can get the like tools and figure it out. But I think there is a part of just like being in that room and like doing it. You gotta pay your dues a little bit. And, um, I can only speak from personal experience.
Like for me, that's, that's how I got here is just by like. Being in the room, being excited, be caring about the work that I've always been doing, and like just pushing myself to like raise the bar a little bit higher every time that I feel like I've hit something that is a dream.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:55:42] Is there anything as a business owner, as a leader of a studio now with a team of seven that just keeps you up at night in addition to managing partners and clients and things like that?
Alex Center: [00:55:52] Yeah, I mean, I think it's funny, like I think about the guys. And, uh, the team, obviously I care about the clients, right? Like there's the part of me that thinks about the clients and making sure that they get what we've committed to and what we've promised. And, um, I talk a big game, so I gotta back it up.
And then there's the like new business part of things where I'm like, okay, what's next? What happens after this next project? Or what are we doing in 2020 like what are we going to be doing? How do we make sure that everyone is getting paid? But at the end of the day, I really truly just think about the team and how they're feeling and I care about them as people.
And because I know that they've, uh, they give so much to me. Like to build this dream and it's, you know, it's my dream and they give so much. Two of themselves and they work so hard. And so I just want to make sure that they feel like appreciate it and, uh, you know, sort of understood and, um, that I am doing what's best for them and what's best for us.
And I guess that's what keeps me up at night. It's like, you know, this like, you know, building this like utopian design studio where like everyone is like happy and the work is amazing and like, we're only working on cool projects that like, are inspiring. That's a hard thing to pull off, but it's a, you know, that's, I've been, I've been working really hard, uh, to try pull it off and, yeah, I mean, it's, it's a grind.
It's, it's, it's a lot of hard work to be able to even attempt to do something like that. And, you know, from the show perspective, like, I think, you know. Trying to launch a design media company is a bold, ambitious thing that I'd like to do. My first baby step towards doing it is launching a show, like a piece of content that comes out every single week.
That's not a podcast. I listened to like five to seven different podcasts a week I'm a big podcast guy. There you go. And I want to create content that is about design, about brands, about the things that I'm interested in. Um, but from a designer's point of view, and from like a designer's point of view, like talking about like the new Facebook logo, but also maybe talking about that, like, you know, a Popeye's versus Chick-fil-A beef, and.
Things that are like culturally relevant, but also design-related and I have a unique cast of characters in my studio, Kevin being one of them. And so I'd like to get them in front of a camera and sort of like start, you know, throwing down some hot takes. And so I'm building out part of our studio. Our new studio, which we're in right now, is to build out like an actual sort of content set.
And a studio for us to film our show a weekly inside of our office that's gonna come out in, uh, probably the beginning of next year.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:58:38] Where can people find more of center more than itself and potentially the show as well?
Alex Center: [00:58:43] Yeah, I think it's all going to live under Center Brooklyn, which is our current Instagram until I can believe the guy that owns @center.
Uh. That's a give that to us. If you are listening and work at Facebook or Instagram, please, please, please help me get @center. The person who has it has never posted a single photo and I'm willing to buy it and I have not been able to do so. So, no I think we're going to, we're going to start rolling that stuff out on our website, which we're going to launch a website of our work, which.
We don't have a site of work and a, yeah, we're going to start to become more active as a brand. Center, as a brand. And I think that's always been part of my desire is to have my own brand and uh, whether that means content or other crazy ideas that we have unrelated to our studio practice. I'm excited about our own brand and having, um, focusing a little bit more on that. But the clients, you know, they
Jon Sorrentino: [00:59:37] take up the time.
Alex Center: [00:59:38] They unfortunately take up a lot of the, of our time. And so I'd love to get to a place where we've tipped that balance a little bit more towards us in what we're doing, because I think we have something to say.
I think there's people out there that would hopefully want to hear it.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:59:53] Where can people find you on?
Alex Center: [00:59:55] Oh, I'm on Instagram at the Alex center. That's pretty much my number one platform that I'm trying to use less, but it's not working. And yes, Center Brooklyn, a. C. E. N. T. E. R. B. K. L. Y. N is sort of the, the company handle.
And is this the end of the podcast, i didn't, I didn't catch that the first time.
Jon Sorrentino: [01:00:16] Alex, thank you so much for joining me,
Alex Center: [01:00:17] Jon. Thank you so much for coming over.