Welcome John Maitland, Self-proclaimed Catspotter


At the end of last summer, Campfire & Co. decided we needed some more hands on deck. We waded through a lot of amazing portfolios and talented individuals to find that perfect fit. John's work immediately struck us as mature and talented beyond his few short years since graduating from VCU's Graphic Design department. He showed up delightfully prepared from the moment we met him and had an impressively diverse set of skills from illustration to UX to 3-D modeling. It took very little time before we realized John was more than a great asset to our team but someone who we'd like to really stick around. So without further ado, we'd like to introduce you to our newest camper, John Maitland.


So you (pretty recently) wrapped up a biking trip across the country. How'd you decide to do that and what was it like?

Yeah, I had really traveled for the first time in late 2016 and got the real itch to keep moving after I returned from a 2 week trip to Japan. I rode with a non-profit group called Bike & Build and my main motivations to decide to do the trip with them was to not only see more of the country but to also engage with the communities we were staying in.

The trip itself was life-changing and also really hard to sum up! Going from a normal 9 to 5 to waking up at 4 am and cycling for eight hours every day was a real challenge and a totally insane thing to do. I had never been farther west than Tennessee so everything beyond that was new to me. I think the reality of it all really hit me when we got to Boulder, CO and I was at the base of the Rocky Mountains and my only thought was, “I rode my bike here to see these mountains for the first time.” It’ll take something pretty big to beat that feeling. Anyone that has undertaken an extended trip like this will know that once you’ve done it once it becomes something you want to do over and over again.


After spending a lot of time traveling, what made you decide to stay living and working here in Richmond?

The short answer is, Richmond is very affordable compared to a lot of other American cities. :) The long answer is I left Richmond not really knowing if I wanted to return or even practice design. After my trip I flew back home to my apartment and went on a run the first day I got back along the James and instantly reminded myself of all the things I love about RVA. That’s really all it took for me to decide to stay and since I’ve been back I have connected to the city in a way I don’t think I could have unless I spent some time away. Richmond has a lot of (relatively) undiscovered gems that give this place its personality and as an artist & designer I find a lot of inspiration in that.


How did you end up as a graphic designer? Did you always know this is the path you wanted?

I was very fortunate to have a lot of guidance as a child and encouragement from my family and teachers that allowed my creativity to grow into a passion. On holidays I would usually get art supplies or some kind of creative tool that would allow me to explore all kinds of artistic avenues on my own. By the time I was in high school I started to learn programming and by then I had my heart pretty much set on design. It really was with the support and encouragement of others that I think put me in this field for which I am SUPER thankful for.

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What are you most excited about (work-wise or other) at Campfire & Co.?

Since I’ve been here the thing that has most excited (and inspired) me is working hand-in-hand with Campfire’s client base. I really feed off of the energy and excitement that someone has for an idea and I think it encourages a more genuine outcome in the design process. I’ll sometimes get the opportunity to dive really deep into one idea or generate a bunch of quick ‘lil designs and that variety I think is really healthy to have as a designer. Campfire’s clients and process really allows for all of that to happen which I think is really rare to find these days in a studio. Luckily, I have gotten to work with some really great people so far and I am really excited to see how that influences my work in the future of design.


What's something new you're working on or want to learn more about in the near future?

Oh wow, there is always a lot going on. (I mean when isn’t there?) At the beginning of 2018 I set a few goals for my design practice that I am working on pretty much every day (so far). I am trying to make with my hands a lot more instead of getting lost in pixels. I’ve been doing a lot of lettering in the sketchbook trying develop a series of weird quips and things I hear on the street or in conversations. I think I would really love to design a typeface some time soon and learn what that process involves. I’d love 2018 to be a year of trying a lot of new things and adventure both in the office and beyond.


Describe your ideal Richmond day..

I’d say my best Richmond days are usually unplanned so it’s really hard to say, but here it goes...I would love an early spring morning to take the bike out to Huguenot flatwater and down Riverside Drive with an obligatory stop at Crossroads. From there I’d park it on bench somewhere outside in the city drawing or writing. Then I’d probably spend the rest of the day on a walk catspotting before heading home to eat way too much food. I’d likely end my day by heading back out to Scott’s Addition or a friend’s apartment to watch Korean dramas and eat pizza, the finest of all foods.


Images via John's instagram. Follow him for more bike stuff and design inspo.