In the third of our Get to Know ZBC Partners interview series, we talked to Dallas Drotz of Drotz Design. Dallas is a versatile creative talent with excellent listening skills, a thirst for knowledge, a big heart and unending patience! Dallas was introduced to ZBC in 2015 when we needed to find a way to turn the science about early puberty into a health and wellness campaign. It all started with a series of mood boards and the rest is history. Today the body of work that Dallas has teamed with ZBC to create includes infographics in English, Spanish, and Chinese; a micro-site in English and Spanish, and a YouTube series in English, Spanish, and Chinese!
Q: What is your professional background?
A: About 19 years ago, I started out in the graphic design field working with website start-ups that needed graphic support; at that point, I was newer to the industry. Next, I moved into the print world where my first official position was as senior designer for a publishing house. I helped design the layout of lifestyle magazines which eventually evolved into the role of art director. As such, I worked to brand and launch several new magazines to the market.
After that, I went solo and diversified my offerings to encompass a wide range of print and digital media, including user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) designs. Now I am moving into 3D design and working in the augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) space.
It’s very important that I keep up and change with market trends and my clients’ needs. In addition to my formal training, that is the basis of my approach that arts the creative process is empowered by technology. I am in a constant cycle of self-teaching and ongoing learning.
Q: What do you consider your top 3 professional skills?
A: I would say that my top professional skill is branding and identity development. I provide a complete service, from name conceptualization all the way through to an identity system. My second most valuable skill is website and app design, including a focus on user interfaces and user experiences and my ability to move this from 2D to 3D. Lastly, I am skilled in animation and video design, whether it’s a simple GIF or more complex versions, such as the Girls’ New Puberty video series.
Q: What attracted you to working with ZBC when you first heard about the organization?
A: I began working with ZBC four years ago. The topic hits close to home because I have two daughters – now 10 and 13 years of age – and I wanted to learn more. The timing was perfect from a cultural point of view because I think about lifestyle factors such as diet and social media and how the impact of these is not well understood. There seems to be a lack of education and awareness as well as motivation and follow-through, and I want to help change that.
Q: What did you learn about breast cancer while working with ZBC that you did not already know?
A: I have a much greater understanding about the importance of helping girls towards a healthy puberty in order to help decrease their lifelong health risks. As the dad of two young daughters entering puberty, this hits very close to home!
Q: Which of the projects that you worked on did you enjoy the most?
A: It is difficult to pinpoint which elements of the Girls’ New Puberty project I have enjoyed the most. I think I'd have to say that the initial work with the ZBC team to create the branding tool kit for the entire campaign was very exciting. Defining the audience, finding the best tone and personality for the campaign, and translating messages into visual elements helped create the infographic which serves as a guide for all other developments. From a professional development point of view, a unique aspect has been adapting the campaign to new languages.
Q: What has been rewarding and what has been challenging about working with ZBC?
A: It is rewarding to know the many benefits that can come from spreading the message with the right urgency about the problem and need for change. It's very rewarding being part of the team that's getting the message out there.
The biggest challenge was probably the number of iteration cycles on a given project. Once we learned how to focus on limited chunks and details, this improved. I realize now that facing this challenge was a learning experience for all of us.
Adapting to multiple languages was also one of the biggest challenges, but conquering those challenges was very rewarding.
Q: What do see as your biggest contribution to ZBC?
A: I think my biggest contribution has been my ability to help organize and define the visual framework and apply that consistently across the campaign in order to maintain a sense of continuity and branding.
Q: What passion or hobby do you do that is separate from your work?
A: People! I am actively involved in my community, especially my church and local schools. I desire to serve and give back. It’s important to celebrate the joys as well as comfort those who are hurting.
From an early age, I enjoyed drawing, sketching, painting, and coloring. This passion evolved into the digital realm as I got older, but traditional art is still very much part of my background. My wife and I currently serve as art docents at our daughter's elementary school. Art funding has been cut, so parents volunteer to teach it. We do art projects with the kids on a monthly basis and find this very rewarding.
Q: Any final words?
A: As I reflect on the partnership with ZBC, I would say that the experience has been extremely rewarding overall. It's one thing to use my design skills in order to sell or market a product, but when I apply my skills for the health and betterment of society, it is extremely satisfying. It feels good to make a difference and help show people a better way to live!
Interview conducted and written up by Rose Barlow, Zero Breast Cancer Executive Director