Most companies dream of becoming the best in their respective fields and for that to happen, they need to stand out from their competition. This is where graphic designers play a key role. It is our job to explore different creative possibilities to connect with target audiences. Through creative exploration, I have discovered to stand out from the competition, being great is good, but being unique is better. If you can find something that can separate you from the rest, you will surely shine. Here are examples of individuals who broke through the clutter:


Born in 1879, Sotter was a man with a simple background. He originally started out as a stained-glass artist for the studio of Horace Rudy, where he designed and produced the stained-glass windows that we see in churches and institutions in and around Pittsburgh. After being inspired by one of his local teachers, Henry G. Keller, Sotter decided to follow his passion for art and become an artist. While attending the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Bucks County, he became lifelong friends with the famed American Impressionist Edward Redfield. Through this friendship, Sotter began to explore new possibilities and eventually discovered nocturne painting, a type of landscape painting that was stereotyped for being dark and dreary. Through creative exploration of this type of painting, Sotter discovered new possibilities and developed a style that set him apart from his peers and would eventually make him one of Pennsylvania’s best impressionist artists.


Amazingly, Heinz didn’t start out in the ketchup business. The original company was actually called Heinz Noble & Company and it focused on horseradish, sauerkraut, vinegar, and pickles. Unfortunately, due to the economic chaos of 1873, the company would go bankrupt, but Henry J. Heinz didn’t give up. In order to avoid his previous mistakes and to better understand how to differentiate companies from their competition in the current situation, Heinz began to explore different possibilities for this new company he started with his brother and cousin. Through this exploration, he discovered something new: food condiments and prepared food. From there, the business boomed, but even after the company was a success, he continued to explore. This also applied to his advertising as well. While riding an elevated train in New York City, he was inspired by a shoe store advertisement boasting 21 different styles. After a bit of creative thinking, he developed the slogan “57 Varieties”, which in his mind, was psychologically influential and significantly enduring to people of all ages.


Born into a family of artists, Rochelle Blumenfeld has had a passion for painting ever since she was a little girl. However, even after taking a variety of different educational courses, she still hadn’t found that one unique thing that would make her stand out. That all changed when she was introduced to the world of abstract art by Samuel Rosenberg, a famed artist who also taught Andy Warhol. He taught Rochelle to explore new creative horizons and look for fresh ideas in everything. With this new perspective, Blumenfeld found that one unique idea and style she was looking for. Today, you can find many of her pieces in exhibitions across America and Europe.


Also known as “Lady Day”, Billie Holiday had an amazing career in the music business, but surprisingly, she didn’t have the easiest start to life. She and her mother struggled to get by on their own for most of her childhood with Billie even ending up in the House of Good Shepherd, a facility for troubled African American girls. Fortunately, she was able to find solace in music, singing along to the records of Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong, and this soon became a passion. After moving to New York City, she decided that she follow her passions and began exploring new creative ways to sing. Through practice, she developed her unique style of singing that is known for it’s distinctive phrasing and it’s expressive, sometimes melancholy tone. This style got her noticed by producer, John Hammond, who would become instrumental in setting her on the path of becoming one of the most influential jazz singers of all time.

No matter what role you play in life, we are all constantly looking for that one thing that makes us special. Sometimes, it isn’t an easy thing to do and it can take many years. However, this has always been a big part of my passion for graphic design. Being the person to help companies and the people who run them figure out what makes them unique. Often, we are teachers like Sam Rosenberg who look to develop the styles of others and set them apart from the normal and mundane. For those of you who want to enter this world, I say don’t be afraid to explore new ideas. It is in the most unexpected places that you might just find something special.