By Sherry Kughn
JSU News Bureau
2 March 2005 — When graphic artist Clint Baker
graduated from Jacksonville State University in 1992, he had earned enough work experience to last a lifetime.
He had helped pay for college by working as a roofer, a tutor, a pizza baker, a clerk, a journalist,
an event promoter, and an advertising agent.
It was the latter job, one that related little to his bachelor’s degree in English, that eventually led to
his becoming a web designer for the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, The Washington Post,
ABC News, and many other well-known companies and organizations.
Mr. Baker took graphic arts courses at JSU where he did fine grade-wise, but for other reasons he did not think
he had a future in graphic design. One of his professors suggested, in fact, he might want to become an art critic
rather than a graphics designer.
“It’s kind of funny that I ended up doing the one thing that someone tried to steer me away from,” he said.
Now, Mr. Baker cannot imagine being confined to an office job. He enjoys the benefits of working out of his home in
the city of his choice—Memphis, Tenn. He likes the money and freedom that working on contract gives him, and he
loves assisting his wife with the rearing of their two young sons. The only drawback to his career, he said, is
that sometimes he wearies of sitting at a computer for days on end.
Mr. Baker is from Albertville, where he won a drama scholarship while in high school. He took his basic courses
and decided as a junior to change his course of studies to English. He was not sure what to minor in, but when
he took all the courses offered by his favorite JSU art professor, Mr. Carter Osterbind, he had his minor in art.
While at college, he tried other areas of student life.
“I worked for the Chanticleer for awhile and on the student newsletter for the Student Government
Association,” said Mr. Baker. “I promoted shows and concerts. As part of that, I did layout work.”
He designed a calendar and some flyers. Once he laid out the artwork to promote himself as a candidate for
SGA president. He chalked his loss up to experience. Most of his layout work was voluntary, but he gained
something more valuable than money—confidence. When he was offered a job with an advertising agency in
Anniston, he took it.
“I wasn’t intimidated with graphic arts anymore,” said Mr. Baker.
Mr. Baker graduated and moved back to Albertville. After several months of job searching, he got hired
at an advertising agency in Memphis, where he stayed for four years. He worked there when the Internet
industry took off, along with the demand for online skills.
“I took to online very fast,” said Mr. Baker. “The Internet moved fast, and I somehow caught a ride.”
After his first few years at an agency, Mr. Baker found a job at a publishing company as an online graphic designer.
After a year there, it was back into an ad agency but this time as an online graphic designer. He stayed
there for a couple of years. By then, having gotten married, Mr. Baker and his wife decided to move to
Washington, D.C., which is home of some of the country’s most innovative museums and broadcasters. He was hired
by the Discovery Channel. The company’s high profile and his creative skills earned him a few design and
ad awards, including a mention in Print Magazine’s Interactive Annual and Communication
Arts Annual, some local and regional Addy Awards, Adobe’s Interactive spotlight, and Macromedia’s Site
of the Day. Other companies began calling and asking if he would design interactive websites for them or
promote their products on the web. He weighed the security of working for an employer against becoming
a contract laborer and working for himself.
“My wife was pregnant so the decision was hard,” said Mr. Baker. The contracts he was offered were lucrative
so he jumped into cyberspace all on his own. Thankfully, Discovery Channel continued to give him work as
a designer and smoothed the transition. Four years ago, he and a partner, Mark Hill, paired their efforts
so both could take better advantage of the demand for their talents. By then, Mr. Baker had chosen where he
wanted to live. He moved to Memphis to be near family members, including his mother, who had moved there
from Albertville after the death of Mr. Baker’s stepfather.
Mr. Baker has continued to attract clients with his own innovative website at
www.clintbaker.com. Posted are interactive games
and previews for movies and products. All throughout the website are places where users can e-mail
Mr. Baker with inquiries about job proposals. He said he is happy to communicate with students
considering graphic arts for a career.
“I can’t explain how I feel,” said Mr. Baker of his success. “Sometimes this is tough because I’ll
get four or five hours of sleep when I am working on a project. Then there are times when things
get slow and I can enjoy some free time.”
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