“Our marks are very high and driven by results. We have to work hard to keep them high and keep the needle moving for our clients. I’m up to the challenge. It’s all good in the hood.” -Erin Hood
Erin Hood is self-propelled, a character trait that makes her a perfect fit for the demanding brand building schedule at Parker Brand Creative Services. "There's no point in watching another rotation, another cycle, another day go by without taking action. I'm very aware that it's up to me to take each passing day and accomplish something. There is creative work to be done. Only I can propel myself into action," says Erin. "To quote the Grand Master," she says. "'Do or do not. There is no try.'" While a Jedi she is not, her natural eye for good design and the ease with which she brings her creative visions to life makes one wonder if there isn't some other force at play.
Her path to branding and design wasn't at all times clear, but she's always had a creative DIY attitude. "I've always been a make-something-from-nothing type," says Hood. "When I was a sprout I practically lived at Michael's and Old America hobby and craft store. There was always a project in the works." And Erin's drive to create only increased when she got her first set of wheels. "I cruised the streets for roadside treasures, looking for something to successfully repurpose," says Erin. "I let the materials inspire me. It was an organic way to work and forced me to think differently. It was challenging, and I like a challenge. My feeling is If it's too easy then it's not worth working for."
Born and raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Erin describes her Southwest Louisiana childhood as normal, but it was this normal childhood that gave birth to her playful and creative curiosity. "I grew up in a regular neighborhood in Lake Charles. It was a wonderful place, where the 'Hood Hellions" rode bikes, battled with mud pies and built fortresses of awesomeness," Hood says. "We turned nothing into something using only our collective imaginations. Whether I realized it then or not, that was when the sleeping creative in me was waking up. I've never lost that."
Erin's creative interests evolved in high school, taking the forms of music and photography. "Like most young people, I didn't know what I wanted to do exactly. High school showed me that there were options out there and it was up to me to give them a try," says Erin. "I started out a band girl; what can I say? I may not have stuck with it, but the creative experience was valuable. I took my first photography class during that time and found that I was quite good at it. Photography expanded my vision of what was possible, but it also helped me narrow my focus a bit."
"I knew that I wanted to stay in the area—this is home—so choosing Sowela Technical College for my training was an easy decision," Erin says. "Sowela's graphic design program was definitely the right move for me. I was fortunate to receive my training from instructors like Tracy Beaugh and Erik Jessen. Tracy was very good at instilling confidence in her students, pushing us to keep going through those first semesters. I owe a great debt to to Erik as well. Beyond being a mixed-media master, Erik had an infectious ambition and eagerness to rise to any creative challenge and that motivated me to rise to the occasion. The wisdom and advice he shared was always in my best interest."
Toward the end of her training, Erin spent time as Erik Jessen's mixed-media protégé. "Erik said that he was digging my style and could see that I respected the deadlines of the class projects; I was honored," says Hood. "That summer, he gave me a call and brought me in on a variety of professional projects. It was great experience and I call on what I learned each and every day."
As a design student, Erin won a variety of familiar design awards, including several Addys, Sowela Art awards and a Louisiana Skills award. "It's nice to win awards, but winning awards isn't what drives me as a designer," Erin says. "Being a part of the Parker Brand hand makes sense because that's not what drives our team either. We don't enter our work in design contests—it's all so subjective—but we do produce reward producing branding materials. The Brand isn't about the show, and neither am I. Our perspectives on the advertising industry align and our work speaks for itself. The Parker Brand is in it to lift up the brands that we work for and that's fine with me. That's the award. That's the gold. That's the shiny light at the end of each project."
Erin feels that while design can be taught, there is definitely something else at play in her creative heart. "As a designer, getting the proper education and training is indispensable; you have to know how to use your tools effectively," she says. "Still, I can't help but look back at my life and see a creative seed there, blooming with every experience, just waiting to come into the sun and blossom. There's this mystery thing inside that you can't touch, see or explain. It's kind of mystical and it manifests itself if you let it. It's something you're born with. Being on the Parker Brand team is interesting because it's all about watering that creative plant and giving it plenty of light. It's good for us and it's good for the brands that trust us. What more could a creative person want?"
As a Parker Brand designer and brand builder, Erin uses her star-born creativity to the fullest extent. She effortlessly flows elements together to form advertising masterpieces. "We saw something special in Erin's portfolio and professional work," says Oran Parker. "The Parker Brand functions as a hand and Erin is without a doubt an important digit. Beyond her skill as a designer, Erin is a great person that's always breaking through conventional thinking. Her input on our projects is priceless. Our clients' brands are benefitting greatly from her being at the Brand. I may be wrong, but I have a hunch she dreams in orange."
When you look at Hood's portfolio it's obvious that her designs are good—they're very good—and she's determined to leave her creative mark on the Parker Brand project deck. "I'm no slouch," she says. "I'm at the Parker Brand and I know exactly what that means. Branding is personal with us. We have top-shelf standards and we have a reputation for getting things done. Our marks are very high and driven by results. We have to work hard to keep them high and keep the needle moving for our clients. I'm up to the challenge. It's all good in the hood."
"There's one thing that's certain to everyone on the Parker Brand team," says Oran Parker. "The Force is strong with this one; no Jedi mind tricks. She is definitely the design-droid our brand was looking for."