Meet the Guy with the Sketchbook – Jake Tennyson

I’m new here—well, sort of.  

I started doing freelance design work for JKS Incorporated in mid-October of 2019. After a few months of learning the ropes, I joined the Creative Services team full-time as a Brand Experience Designer at the beginning of January. 

In short, it is my job to make any kind of space (like a trade show exhibit, a display, or interior area) feel like it is a cohesive part of our client’s brand. This process can include creating 2D materials like posters and other forms of signage, designing interactive games and props, and configuring architectural plans. 

To get us started, a client will come to us with a pitch deck, or a brief presentation that lists general guidelines and goals for the space they would like us to bring to life. We’ll discuss their desired theme, size limit, intended audience, purpose, and so on. From here, I put myself in the client’s shoes. I’ll engulf myself in their brand guidelines, color schemes, and reference materials. Then it’s time to pull out my trusted sketch pad and pens.

After I have honed in on a direction and produced a few sketches that I am proud of and feel satisfy the client’s needs and wants, I’ll bring out my iPad. I use this tool to refine my images and prepare formal concept sketches to share with the client. Once these digital drawings have been approved by the client, the process moves on to our talented in-house team of printers and fabricators. 

But… my involvement in a project doesn’t just stop after I have sent a sketch downstairs. I strive to be a part of the process as much as I can without stepping on any toes. Whether it’s checking in on the progress of a build, helping to prepare corresponding graphics, or working through a design problem, I love following the evolution of my designs—from conception to completion. 

This continued engagement is something that I came to really appreciate during my time in North Carolina State University’s Design Studies program. Being in the College of Design at NC State and having the opportunity to work with all sorts of people in print design, product design, architecture, and so on, laid the foundation for my design process and shaped me into the designer that I am today.

My education also taught me the importance of staying creatively motivated. I sketch daily—whether I am working on something in particular or not. I find a lot of inspiration from my surroundings and I am always looking for different examples of how people have designed spaces and exhibits in the past. A big part of this involves diving into the world of architecture. I’ll take a walk in a new part of town or revisit images of classic Frank Lloyd Wright and John Pawson builds.

I am also constantly adding to the cork board that hangs above my desk. I will sketch any hypothetical space that comes to my mind, tack it to my board, and use those drawings as references for future projects. 

My peers at JKS Incorporated have also been a force of inspiration. I am surrounded by people who are not only supportive of my design process, but who also challenge me to explore new concepts and push my creative limits. The projects I have been able to work on are no different. 

As a part of the Creative Services team, I have the unique opportunity to work with a variety of brands, all of which are vastly different from one another. This in itself is an exciting challenge that I know will continue to promote my growth and evolution as a designer. 

So, if we ever cross paths at a coffee shop in downtown Winston-Salem, feel free to poke your head over my shoulder and ask me what I’m sketching (because, let’s face it—I always am). Whether you want JKS Incorporated to help you with your next project or you just want to see what I am working on, I’m always happy to chat.