My path to working at JKS Incorporated was a bit unconventional.
I grew up about five minutes down the road from the current office and production space. When I was younger, I was immersed in the world of professional car racing and NASCAR—due in part to my grandparents who loved spending time at the track and even used to score race times before electronic scorecards were a thing. The fondness for this sport that I grew to share with my grandparents is one of the reasons that I applied for a part-time job at The Winston Cup Museum a little over a year after I graduated from college.
The museum, which is dedicated to preserving the story of Winston-Salem’s rich stock car racing history and NASCAR’s Winston Cup Series, is actually owned by JKS Incorporated’s founder, Will Spencer. My application to the museum found its way into the hands of Christy Spencer, JKS Incorporated’s president. Christy saw the work I had done in college and during past internships and felt that I would be a better asset to the team here at JKS.
So, in November of 2016, I started working with the Production and Creative Services staff. This meant I was responsible for things like loading substrates into printers, making sure the printers were set up with sufficient amounts of inks, and cutting and laminating our printed materials.
Over these past three-and-a-half years I have grown into a graphic designer role and currently hold the title of Creative Services Manager. Now, while you can still find me helping out in our production space, I also spend my days designing 2D materials like vehicle wraps, booklets, posters, and other forms of signage.
One of my favorite aspects of my job is being able to be part of a project’s progress from start to finish. It is rewarding to watch a design evolve from my computer screen into a tangible product.
I like to start my design process on paper. Whenever an idea comes to me, I will create a quick drawing to get a general idea of the direction I want to head in. From here, I move things into Adobe Illustrator. This is where the majority of my work takes place. Once a design has been finalized and approved by the client, I oversee the entire printing process and complete the same tasks that I was responsible for when I first started.
Maintaining a creative mindset, even when I am not at work, is another important aspect of my design process. I make it a point to draw in my free time. Since I was younger, I have found that putting pencil to paper not only keeps my creative gears oiled but also helps me translate how I am feeling and brings me a lot of happiness.
For the past ten years, I have suffered from anxiety and depression. One thing that has stayed consistent in bringing me happiness during this struggle is my creative process and the creation of art in all forms. It relaxes me and seems to give me a sense of relief and purpose in my day-to-day life.
While art and design have always been important to me, I wasn’t initially sure that it was something that I wanted to make a career out of. As a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, I started out as a finance major and ended up graduating with a marketing degree. It wasn’t until the end of my time in college that I knew I wanted to pursue something within the graphic design industry.
I held a couple of internships where I was able to do some graphic design work, but for the most part, my skills are self-taught. Today, I am still evolving as a designer and JKS Incorporated’s diverse client base helps me to do so.
The opportunity to work with clients that are a part of the Winston-Salem racing community has also been a rewarding experience. I have been able to design wraps for stock cars and even pace car graphics and wall signage for Bowman Gray Stadium—the same track my grandparents used to take me when I was younger.
No matter the client, tackling new design challenges and projects each week makes work not feel like work. I am excited to continue growing with JKS Incorporated and looking forward to connecting with new clients as the company moves back to downtown Winston-Salem.