Designing Larger-Than-Life Brands for Small Businesses

Designing Larger-Than-Life Brands for Small Businesses

Partner and creative director of The Splinter Group, Lane Wurster, shares how a designer navigates the marketing world.

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Photo by Briana Brough

As part of our series The Creatives, we talk to Lane Wurster, partner and creative director at The Splinter Group.


Growing up, were you particularly artistic?

No, I was more of a jock. I ran track and cross-country, which is what brought me here from Pennsylvania. I ran at Wake Forest, and it wasn’t until I came to UNC for grad school that I got bit by the creative bug.

Tell us about your first client.

The very first [things] I did were flyers and posters for bands I loved that were playing at the Cat’s Cradle. Not really “paying” clients, but that was how I got started – late-night cut-and-paste sessions at Kinkos. That work caught the eye of the guy who was launching Mammoth Records, and they became my first freelance client.

How did you get started with The Splinter Group?

I had been the creative director at Mammoth Records here in town for about ten years. After Disney bought the label and ran it into the ground, my business partner Steve Balcom – who ran the label – and I decided to take what we had learned at Mammoth and find folks who were looking for an alternative approach to their branding and marketing. We started the company in 2000 and are now in our 16th year.

Where do you go to get things done?

Looking Glass Cafe next to our office or for a walk in the woods.

How do you start a project?

By listening.

Something you wish people knew about the process of design:

How vulnerable we make ourselves.

What project are you proudest of?

I still really love our Big Spoon [Roasters] packaging. In terms of fulfillment, the work we’ve done with the Be Loud! Sophie Foundation is unmatched.

What brings you joy?

My son’s swimming, my daughter’s singing and my wife’s laughter.

Guilty pleasure?

The Pig’s Carolina Po-Boy: pulled pork, pimento cheese, collard greens, hot sauce. Guilty as charged!