Intentional and Innovative: Meet John Waddell, Senior Designer

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Intentional and Innovative: Meet John Waddell, Senior Designer

You know the phrase first to arrive, last to leave? Well that sums up John Waddell, one of Speak’s Senior Designers. After nearly 20 years as a designer, John knows a thing or two about dedication. 

Described by members of our team as compassionate, servant-minded, and diligent, John has only officially been at Speak for a year and a half. Prior to joining the team as part of Speak’s acquisition of Rocketfuel, John worked at Rocketfuel for 17 years. But as a child, John had aspirations of being a “mad scientist working on experiments down in a dungeon laboratory.” However, those aspirations quickly faded, he says, “upon discovering that my math and chemistry skills were considerably lacking. I then embraced the fact that I had more of an inclination and an intimacy with visual arts. Thus began a bit more of a realistic and a more fulfilling journey into graphic design.”

John is known for his intentional and effective designs. Being in the design world for as long as he has, John’s creativity and innovation has remained consistent. When asked about where he started 19 years ago, John remembers the days of learning graphic design on QuarkXPress (an older non-Adobe version of InDesign) and Macromedia (which was acquired by Adobe in 2005). But as technology has evolved, so has John. He’s managed to do more than just keep up with the trends, but rather has mastered them. He’s a whiz at all things Adobe. 

When asked about a few of his favorite recent projects, John first mentioned the Priest Lake Community Church church rebrand. He said, “The collaboration and execution of the project was wonderful. I think the new logo successfully helped to give the client a stronger presence and voice in their community.”

Another big highlight of John’s work is the Amro Music website. He has always had a deep love for music and played trumpet for many years in high school, college, and after. John bought his first horn in the 7th grade at Amro Music and was able to design their website years later. John said, “I not only respect Amro for their expertise in music, but they have been a delightful client to partner with. I was privileged to be able to work on the design of their website. It’s amazing how things sometimes come around full circle.”

John also loved getting to design a website for The Happy Hour, a modern mental wellness studio located in Nashville. “We were able to be a bit more conceptual with the design, and it afforded us the opportunity to brainstorm ideas and experiment with different types of interactions. It was a good strategy/design/development challenge, and well worth the challenge.”


Each day at Speak, John says he is always learning and growing from the people he works with. “I dare say that sometimes it can even be a bit intimidating for me, thinking of the level of knowledge and talent here, and the things accomplished, and all the things that are possible. And on top of all that, the Speak team members all have the unmitigated audacity to be genuinely nice, and warm, and down-to-earth.”

When asked about any words that he has for those new to the design field, John listed three pieces of advice:

  1. Try to develop a thick skin and learn to accept constructive criticism from your peers in order to grow. But at the same time, learn to defend your work if you feel strongly enough about a case. In most cases, criticism is not personal. By the same token, try not to feel defeated if a client rejects your work. The work itself is good work, but there are usually a myriad of other factors involved in a project.
  2. Cultivate your skills at problem solving and generating ideas. Software/tools and design trends/styles come and they go, but the idea is what may very well play a big role in defining your value as a good designer.
  3. Find inspiration everywhere, and in everything.

It’s hard to put into words the impact that John has had on Speak, so it’s only fitting that he won Speak’s Team Choice Award for 2020. An award, where each year, all 40+ Speaksters anonymously vote on a person that they believe has especially exemplified our 5 core values over the past year. These core values are what shape our every day at Speak. 

Before our CEO, Jacob Savage, announced this year’s winner, we all knew who it would be after a few sentences about this secret winner. Here are just a few things that our people had to say about John. Let us know if you get a little teary reading these too.

We truly mean it when we say that John’s humility and generosity make Speak a better place. We can learn alot from his determination, integrity, and skill. In just a short time here, John has been an integral part of the team and has captured the hearts of so many with his encouraging words and inspirational designs. 

Let’s Chat

Where can you sign up to work with John? We thought you’d ask. We think the people that work here are the best part of Speak. Reach out to chat about how our passionate team can help create a memorable digital presence for your organization.     

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Posted by Madelyn Bomar at 07:42