On being an art director and pursuing creativity

Art Director of 5 Stones Media Tony Romain works on design to satisfy the needs of various clients. Romain moved up to the position after joining the marketing agency as an intern in 2012. Courtesy of Tony Romain

2013 alumnus Tony Romain has found an outlet for his creative endeavors as the art director of 5 Stones Media.

Romain currently works for the marketing agency remotely from North Carolina. When Director of Client Services Kim Walker gave a presentation in one of Dr. Terri Tará Lopez’s marketing classes, Romain became interested in joining 5 Stones Media. 

“When I heard they did some website design, I became really eager because that was something I didn’t know much about at the time and absolutely wanted to learn,” said Romain. “So after class, I walked up, shook her hand, introduced myself and told her I was interested in hearing about their intern possibilities. From there, the story has just been writing itself.”




In 2012, Romain began working at 5 Stones Media as an intern. The agency that opened in 2011 was in a relatively young stage at the time.

“The company was very small then, and I didn’t even have a desk, but I was able to start learning more about website design and how to work with clients,” said Romain.

As the art director, Romain’s tasks include meeting with clients and running a design critique as well as working with a team to create the design for clients. Romain enjoys the variety of working at 5 Stones Media.

“When you work with an agency like this, no two days are ever really the same,” said Romain. “We’ve got clients from all walks of life, different kinds of businesses, who all need different solutions. Today I can be working on a brochure for a commercial construction company that’s heavy on photography, and tomorrow I might be churning out sketches for logo concepts for a fisherman or a museum.”

According to Romain, there are too many projects and “humbling experiences,” ranging from laser tag parks to crawfish cookers to the parish government for him to choose a single favorite one. However, he discussed the enjoyment that he finds in some of the projects.

“Restaurants are usually a lot of fun to work with,” said Romain. “Oftentimes we’d get to do photoshoots of their menu items, and they’d usually just let us eat whatever we wanted after, so that’s always an enjoyable thing to get paid to do.”

Romain believes the university helped him in his professional and personal life. Although he was accepted to his dream college during high school, Savannah College of Art and Design, SCAD, tuition and other living costs led Romain to instead attend Southeastern Louisiana University. The decision resulted in Romain’s initial irritation that affected his coursework.

Romain said, “I took that frustration out by blowing off classes and not putting forth any real effort, but in my sophomore year, I took an art class with Troy Wingard, who ironically, used to teach at SCAD. He pulled me aside and really helped me realize that I was wasting my talent by being angsty and helped me discover my potential.”

Romain cited instruction such as from Bethany Souza in photography and Nancy Collins in typography and design for helping him further discover his capabilities and passion as an artist.

Romain said, “All of my art and design professors really helped to push and nurture me, but the icing on the cake are the relationships that I’ve built with classmates, the other artists and designers who are now lifelong friends who continue to encourage and support each other. That’s priceless.”

Looking back, Romain wishes he had paid more attention in his psychology classes. According to him, his work exceeds an understanding of design and requires adaptability working on different projects for different audiences. 

“You need to know the psychology behind people and how and why specific elements garner reactions,” said Romain. “Web design especially is so much more than putting together some pretty pictures and shapes with a ‘buy now’ button over it. Understanding how people will respond to the content you’re presenting to them is paramount.”

Romain’s design work can be found and followed at tonylettuce on Instagram. Romain advises anyone interested in design to continuously push limits towards improvement.

“It doesn’t matter how much natural talent you think you do or don’t have,” said Romain. “Time and practice are the most important things that will help you improve. If I could quote a Macklemore song here, ‘The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint. The greats were great because they paint a lot.’”