County officials and personnel are likely very familiar with David Garcia’s work, even if they’ve never met him. As Art Director, he oversees the development and implementation of Texas Association of Counties' (TAC) brand. Anyone who has attended a TAC event, perused a TAC publication (including this issue of County magazine) or visited the TAC website has encountered Garcia’s design.
His approach is a rare mixture of creativity and a strategic mindset that supports TAC’s reputation of trust and service and has resulted in a handful of National Association of County Information Officers design awards over the past 21 years.
“David approaches every assignment, large or small, with the same commitment to maintaining a high standard,” TAC Communications Director Gene Acuña said. “The consistent, professional look on all TAC publications and materials is a testament to David’s belief that we should provide our members with materials that always look outstanding.”
Garcia joined TAC in 2000 as a Graphic Designer. Later, he was promoted to Senior Graphic Designer before becoming Art Director in 2019.
County Magazine: How did you get into art and design?
David Garcia: I was interested in art from an early age, and I knew I’d do something art-related down the road. I went to Texas Tech University as an architecture student. I figured it was respectable, and my parents wouldn’t think I was throwing money away. At the time, it seemed liked the path to take so I could make a living with art.
One day, during my freshman year, I looked out the window of my technical drawing class and saw the art and design students out in the courtyard drawing still lifes of nature. They seemed to be having a lot more fun. The next semester I changed my major to design and illustration and haven’t looked back since.
CM: Art is so … subjective. How have you handled that?
DG: I don’t take criticism personally, but I make the work personal because I believe that makes the end product better. I try to think in terms of “we” statements. It’s collaborative work involving lots of input from different directions. It’s an interesting challenge to use all of those inputs to refine and hone a project such that the final design or publication is the best version of what is needed.
The design team, which also includes Senior Graphic Designer Kristen Benavides and Design Intern Eric Rodriguez, has worked hard to demonstrate the value of design, which has increased trust in us, that the brand is safe in our hands.
“TAC has such a strong brand, and everyone who works here has a good understanding of what our brand is — it’s quality and trust.”
— Art Director David Garcia
CM: What does that mean, to be a steward of the brand? Why is that important?
DG: The brand is the way people perceive you — whether it’s a personal brand or one for your business — it’s the feeling you want people to have or associate with you. TAC has such a strong brand, and everyone who works here has a good understanding of what our brand is — it’s quality and trust. It’s a reputation built over 50 years, nurtured along by county officials, TAC leaders and employees over time. So it’s pretty important to protect it, to cultivate it. We are all invested in taking care of it.
CM: What initiative are you most proud of?
DG: Two projects stand out. One is the Texas Counties Deliver campaign that raises public awareness of the role of county government and elected officials. The campaign first launched in 2015 with the distinctive Texas Counties Deliver logo, and we’ve continuously developed campaign elements, including videos, infographics and more that can be downloaded from the texascountiesdeliver.org website. TAC won an award from the National Association of County Information Officers for that campaign.
Second, I’m proud of the refreshed design of County magazine that we completed in late 2019/early 2020. This team effort with Senior Graphic Designer Kristen Benavides resulted in a cleaner, more refined design that better highlights the excellent writing.
CM: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
DG: TAC was my first full-time professional job after college. I juggled a few part-time jobs before then, one of which was at a bakery. I enjoyed that job, and I still enjoy baking. Before the pandemic, I periodically baked cookies for TAC teammates. I’m looking forward to those days returning!
CM: Anything else you’d like people to know?
DG: I grew up in Hondo, Texas, the county seat of Medina County. I was the first person in my family to go to college, so leaving home for college was new, weird and exciting for us all. Even though I’ve been in Austin for the past 20 years, Hondo remains home and holds a place in my heart.
Outside of work, I like to travel around the country and am hoping to do that again soon. Some of my favorite places are Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Chicago and New York City. When things settle down with the pandemic, I’d like to travel internationally. South America is on my list.