AE Friends & Family: Dan B., AE Brand Creative Director

AE Friends & Family: Dan B., AE Brand Creative Director

How did you discover your passion?

Oh man, that’s a tricky question to answer. Growing up in a small town, I really didn’t have a lot of focus or direction. I’ve always been a very visual person, and as such, I was easily distracted. My teachers and peers saw this as lack of motivation and focus,  so I had a pretty difficult time in school. As most artists/designers can attest to, I have about a 3 second attention span. It took me a long time to understand what it meant to have creative talent and then how to focus that energy. I was always drawing, sketching or painting and I loved taking photos, but it didn’t dawn on me that I had a unique talent until my senior year in high school. I found myself cutting classes to spend more and more time in the art wing. My art teacher was a huge influence in my creative life. While other teachers all but gave up on me, he inspired and pushed me to focus my creative energy into something tangible. My senior year I decided to go to The Cleveland Institute of Art to get my BFA. I would say this is when I truly discovered my passion. Being surrounded by tremendously creative and passionate young artists really motivated and pushed me.

How did you get your start as an art director?

Honestly, I think it was a mix of hard work and luck. I was always intrigued with retail and fashion-based marketing. It seemed like a fun field to get into, so I structured my portfolio and thesis around fashion. A design recruiter at another retailer called me up a few weeks after graduation and I signed on as an associate level graphic designer. From there it was lots of hard work and long hours. Four years later I found myself at American Eagle Outfitters as the Art Director for their newly launched kids brand, 77Kids. And now, after a lot of late nights and a few years later, I’m the Creative Director for the AE Brand. This job is pretty great. We have an incredibly talented team and fun work environment. I can honestly say I love coming to work everyday.

Dan Barbato American Eagle Outfitters Brand Creaitve Director

Dan B., AE Brand Creative Director, during the 77kids opening in NYC.

Who or what has been the most important influence in your life?

That’s easy, my family. I have a large Italian family and I’m very close to them all. They are my biggest fans and have been incredibly supportive.

Dan Barbato American Eagle Outfitters Brand Creaitve Director

Dan with his dad, uncle, and brother.

What is your dream job?

I would love to own and run a little coffee shop or bar.

What is next on your ‘To Do In Life’ list?

I really enjoy traveling. My next stop is Paris and Berlin. I’ve been obsessing about visiting for a year now and I’m looking to plan a trip in the spring.

How would you describe your fashion style?

My style is pretty All-American and classic. I like simplicity. Pretty much everything in my closet is black, grey, white or navy. My go-to is a pair of dark skinny jeans, a grey T and a pair of Chucks.

How does your work influence your style?

My design style is very minimalistic. I like clean lines, grids, solid colors and lots of space. I like classic and timeless design that speaks for itself. I would say my work and my personal style mesh fairly well together since AE is the classic all American brand.

Dan during the American Eagle Outfitters Spring 2013 shoot.

Dan during the American Eagle Outfitters Spring 2013 shoot.

What was your favorite part of the Holiday 2012 shoot?

It was so much fun, but my favorite moment was shooting Priscilla at midnight as she jumped around and threw glitter at us. It was pretty hilarious. There were about five of us in a huge, open, pitch-black field in the middle of the Oregon wilderness. It literally couldn’t have been any more amazing.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I find inspiration everywhere. I’m extremely observant and am constantly taking in everything I see. There’s just so much beauty in this world, it would be a shame to waste a moment! A few artists and designers that have inspired me this month: Scott Hansen, RJ Shaughnessy, Kimberly Gordon, Mattias Adolfsson, Todd Selby, Grant Hamilton, Atelier Olschinsky and Jeff Luker.

Where is the coolest place you’ve traveled for your job?

I’m so blessed to have a job where I get to travel to some pretty incredible locations. I’d say one of the coolest places was an Island in the Florida Keys called Indian Key. We had to take a 45-minute boat ride every morning just to get to this little private island. That was pretty sick!

Do you have any cool interests or hobbies?

I listen to music non-stop. I try to get to as many shows as possible. I love to gallery hop and frequent museums. I enjoy the outdoors and nature and love to fly-fish and camp. I’m an avid scotch and whiskey connoisseur. I also love to grill and cook when I have time.

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