Inspiration Comes from Anywhere and Anyone
Senior Designer at Paramount
by Elizabeth Lavis|
01 Aug 2023
Gregory St. Fleur-Dubois’ designs are a celebration of different visuals, colors, and fonts that all come together perfectly in a cohesive and well-executed design. The best piece of advice St. Fleur-Dubois ever heard is ‘inspiration can come from anywhere and anyone,’ and this ethos is evident in his portfolio. He seems to take inspiration from various unique sources, but it all completely works.
St. Fleur-Dubois’ experience as a Black man and immigrant certainly shapes his designs as well. “I’m a Black man born in Montreal, Canada, as the only son of Haitian immigrants,” he says. “I also lived most of my life in the United States as an immigrant myself. When I look at my designs, there are a couple of pretty consistent things, like the use of vibrant color and being inclusive of the people I use. A lot of my personal designs over the last couple of years have been an unapologetic celebration of the beauty and strength of Blackness, and that’s something I have been really proud of.”
St. Fleur-Dubois almost didn’t go into design. Instead, he pursued a childhood dream of becoming a doctor until some personal issues prompted him to put his medical training on pause. “A year later, I applied to design school, and that changed the trajectory of my life,” he says. Once he was in college, he truly hit his stride, finding great mentors in his second year and getting real-world experiences through internships.
People Over Plastic
St. Fleur-Dubois’ design process is simple, straightforward, and effective. Before doing anything else, he starts with solid research and strategy. “A lot of constructive creativity comes from proper strategizing,” he says. “I like to think the problems through and figure out the best ways to approach them. That really makes the design part easy.”
He’s also a highly effective communicator who gets right to the crux of his client’s needs. “I like to meet with my clients and understand the problems they’re trying to solve,” he says. “So much comes from that initial conversation. It’s my job to ask the right questions and really listen to them. Doing this and staying in constant communication helps build trust between a client and myself.”
Setting up a solid foundation comes in handy when clients accidentally get in their own way and take the project off track. “I’ve found that reminding clients of their goals and going back to the research helps them reconsider some not-so-great ideas,” St. Fleur-Dubois says. “That’s all part of understanding the work you’re doing and the client that you’re working with. When you don’t fully understand those things, you won’t have the tools to connect with a client, and you risk letting them pull you into rabbit holes.” He notes that when this happens, the client may lose confidence.
When St. Fleur-Dubois feels overwhelmed, he finds that stepping away from a project can help him get his bearings and proceed with greater clarity. He also does other things to refresh and reset himself, including looking for inspiration in unconventional places. “I watch a cool movie or take a museum break if there’s time,” he says. “Sometimes a good sleep helps refresh my mind too.”
St. Fleur-Dubois also pays homage to some of design’s greatest minds, including George Lois, one of the top American graphic designers and directors whose portfolio includes some of Esquire magazine’s most iconic covers. Lois’ contribution to graphic design is so monumental that his work was even featured in the MoMA. If St. Fleur-Dubois could have dinner with one person, it would be Lois. “I had a chance to meet and talk with him once, and it was a great moment,” he says. “I would just love to pick his brain on the experiences he’s had in his long career.”
Finally, St. Fleur-Dubois finds inspiration in his family. “My wife is a creative as well, and we welcomed our daughter last year,” he says. “They drive me to grow and better for them and myself.”
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