Howard Belk
BFA '81
Graphic Design

As a student at the University of the Arts, I worked harder than I ever had in high school – pulling all-nighters and actually loving it! The studio environment generated excitement and encouraged students to perform at a very high level. The intensity of the experience prepared me for the New York design world.

I got my first job through UArts – the Graphic Design department chair made a call recommending me to UArts alumnus C. Wynn Medinger, a nationally renowned designer who recently retired as CEO and chairman of Brandlogic. Later I founded a strategic communications and design firm that was bought by Omnicom in 2001. Subsequently I joined another Omnicom company, Interbrand, where I was a group director.

Today I am co-CEO and chief creative officer of Siegel+Gale, one of the world’s premier strategic branding firms and yet another Omnicom agency. We are headquartered in New York and have offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Dubai, Shanghai, Beijing and Hamburg, Germany. My job is to challenge our design teams across the globe to breathe life into brand strategies. I believe that powerful identities bring humanity to brands and generate belief in their essential promise. Doing this successfully for organizations that operate globally requires supreme simplicity.

It’s a phenomenally exciting time to be in design and create impactful work that touches millions of people; the world is more connected than ever and the influence of designers seems to increase daily. The business environment has a need for both left- and right-brain thinkers. The most successful designers, and people in general, are open to unusual ideas and solutions; they challenge expectations and take things in unusual directions.

I’d tell prospective and current Design students to pay attention, particularly to the alternative opinions you may hear. Look beneath the surface of what you’re asked to do and what you’re learning. Be a contrarian. Ask how cracking this assignment can impact the world around you. Answering that question will take you to fascinating places.