The Inner Circle: Jerome Daksiewicz of NOMO Design

Who knew that airport runways could be so cool? Jerome Daksiewicz did and his NOMO Design Studio has completely changed the way I see, not only runways, but golf courses, stadiums and cars.

Jerome is the principle designer for NOMO, a multi-disciplinary creative studio based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Juggling hats is a feat that most creatives seem to do, and Jerome is no exception. I’m happy to have in the IATL Inner Circle. His design expertise and years of experience are a much-needed addition.

How did this journey begin for you?

My journey, perhaps like many others’, began with a combination of necessity, luck and a lot of hard work. I’m an architect, currently Director of Design at Indianapolis-based DKGR, so NOMO has at times been both a full-time job and a side gig. In 2008, the architecture office I moved to Phoenix to help start was closed so I started doing freelance work, mostly graphic and web design (I had been designing and building websites since the mid 90’s) Architectural unemployment was near 40% in Phoenix at the time so graphic design work was much easier to find. Now I keep just a few clients, collaborate with other designers for larger projects and my wife, Nicole, handles fulfillment for NOMO alongside running her own shop – modernhandcraft.com

Further back? I used to do a lot of oil painting as a kid, sold a few paintings and mural commissions – reckon I learned then it was possible to do something you love and have some type of income from it.

What was the genesis for the NOMO Design print shop?

In 2010 I designed two infographics for another passion, the Tour de France – one illustrated the route, teams and riders, the other looked at each stage’s results and cyclists moved in the standings throughout the race. These got a decent amount of design press and a lot of requests to purchase them so for 2011, I created a print version and added a “Buy Now” PayPal button to my blog. I quickly had to learn the basics of how to store and inventory prints, package and fulfill orders. Later that year, I built a true ecommerce site (at first on BigCartel then moved to Shopify a few months after that, a platform I’m still happily on). Based on the relative success of the TdF Series, I launched my Airport Runway Series with four screenprints – ORD, MSP, LAX and JFK.

Posts on several design blogs made the NOMO shop a real thing, and things grew from there. Several of the following series were launched on Kickstarter, which has been great for vetting ideas, getting feedback and engaging a community. The most successful was my Auto Icon series, with nearly 1,000 new customers and $48,000 in sales.

NOMO was founded by designer Jerome Daksiewicz in 2010 with just one print for sale, that year’s Tour de France print. The Tour de France series continued in 2011 and soon after NOMO released the award-winning Airport Runway Series. That series quickly grew from the original 4 prints to almost 50 prints and has spawned the Racetrack, Golf Course and Photo Film print series. NOMO is a multi-disciplinary creative studio based in Chicago, Illinois. NOMO provides a full range of design services including identity, graphic, environmental, information and interaction design.

“Don’t wait, overthink or overdesign, but get your work out there. You can’t be found without a presence. An observation rather than advice – but I didn’t create a business plan with a grand vision, just remained nimble and responsive with simple goals. ”

You have a unique way of looking at designed spaces and objects and seeing additional layers of inspiration. How did you develop this skill?

This surely goes back to my architectural education. More than just learning about architectural design, it was a good general design education. I was very fortunate to travel around the world, learning to see, ask questions and find inspiration everywhere. A minor detail but architecture school is great for learning how to meet deadlines. I often get work where previous designers simply didn’t get work done or on time. I’ve also found myself surrounded with extremely talented colleagues and mentors that I’m always learning from.

What challenges have you faced as an independent creative?

The “inspired-by” / knock-offs are an ongoing challenge, I find this most prevalent on Etsy but I know of a few current shops that were created based on my print series. I work with an IP attorney to help on this side of things.

Fortunately the print shop sort of runs on it’s own now, but it’s very important to keep adding fuel to the fire. The sales landscape is very difficult, so maintaining traffic and online/real-world presence is vital.

What advice would you give to makers just starting on their journey?

Don’t wait, overthink or overdesign, but get your work out there. You can’t be found without a presence. I’m still surprised at some of the collaborations and companies I’ve been able to work with that have found me through my site. I started small and grew organically as sales allowed. An observation rather than advice – but I didn’t create a business plan with a grand vision, just remained nimble and responsive with simple goals. Realize sales conversion rates vary, but typically somewhere between 1-5%, so if you want to sell one item, you’ll need 20-100 visits.

Sum up your personal style in 5 words.

Simple beauty in the overlooked.

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