Interview with Dennis Kennedy, Lead Graphic Designer at PRIME Athletes

By: Nick Zobel, @Nick_Zobel

Dennis Kennedy, Lead Graphic Designer at PRIME Athletes

Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with Dennis Kennedy, Lead Graphic Designer at PRIME Athletes, a Los Angeles-based athlete management and marketing firm. A native of San Diego, Dennis received a Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology from Arizona State University and worked as an EMT in the Los Angeles and Orange County area as he prepared for physical therapy school. However, after two years, Dennis made a transition to graphic design, receiving an Associate of Arts degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise. Dennis joined PRIME as a graphic design intern in January 2014 and joined full-time upon graduation from FIDM this September. He plans to one day manage his own freelance design company that branches out beyond sports.

What’s your typical day look like?

As PRIME’s primary graphic designer, Dennis rarely has a “typical” day. Dennis’ wide range of projects includes “design for clients, endorsements, sponsors.” Every agent presentation at PRIME goes through Dennis, “usually in the form of a deck, a graphically designed presentation usually through PDFs.” With such a wide range of duties, staying organized is a must for Dennis. “Time management is my toughest job,” Dennis explained “because of all the projects we have with five agents.”

How do you establish a work/life balance?

According to Dennis, maintaining a work/life balance is “easy because sports is my true passion. I don’t feel like I could ever be burnt out on it.” Though work brings its own challenges, it’s manageable because Dennis enjoys the environment. “I get to work in sports, I get to meet professional athletes — clients — I get to watch sports all day.”

What are some of the challenges of entering the industry?

Dennis explained that it’s “hard to say [what the challenges of entering the industry are] because I actually got really lucky. I never thought I would be able to work in sports with my first graphic design gig,” a stroke of luck that Dennis warns “is not realistic, it’s really not.” However, he decided that the biggest challenge is finding experience, because “when you’re applying for a job, most places want three to four years of experience, but where do you go to start?” For those interested in becoming graphic designers, Dennis stressed that it’s important that you get your degree and be professionally trained. “Your portfolio does speak for itself a lot of the time, [but] you could be a wiz with Photoshop, Adobe CS, but if you don’t have any thought or education to come with those ideas your design mind isn’t going to go anywhere. You’re never going to come up with ideas as fast as someone with an education.”

One piece of advice you wish you would have received?

Though Dennis would have preferred to have started his design career immediately after school, he has “done it exactly how I wanted since: graduated with honors, worked hard for it, got a job before I graduated.” However, Dennis explained that the learning doesn’t end when school is over. “Now it’s just finding a balance of getting better while working. You’re creating new material and new ways of doing things, and you don’t have school for that anymore.” Dennis warned that even after receiving a degree, newcomers should avoid falling into the trap of “thinking that you know everything.”

What are some key current sports business trends?

“In sports, it’s literally whatever these young kids want,” Dennis explained. Potential client decks are increasingly more personalized, meaning designers like Dennis need to study athletes and figure out “what they are like, what are they posting on social media. It all comes into play.”

Parting wisdom?

“Find what you’re good at, understand if it makes you happy or not. You could be good at something, but if it’s not going to be fun, you don’t find enjoyment out of it. Find that balance of being really happy with what you’re doing, and perfect it.”

You can follow Dennis on Instagram at: @therealdeek

You can view PRIME Athletes’ website at: