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Clint Baker: An Accidental Expert on Web Design

Graphic artist Clint Baker prefers this self portrait rather than a traditional publicity shot.  To visit his innovative website, go to

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 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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