Paul Martin has been with aytm for about two years. In that time, he’s directed a massive overhaul of the brand, and been fundamental to the design and conceptualization of hundreds of projects. Paul and his team continue to evolve aytm creatively into what it is today. We caught up with him to see how he makes it all happen.
Tell us what you do here at aytm
My official title is Creative Director—a role that can span many different areas of skill depending on what a business needs. When I first joined aytm, that meant getting to know our CEO, Lev Mazin on a personal level in order to understand his vision and connect with what the company stands for. Eventually, I began studying our core values and looking at ways to translate them into brand elements. Today, it’s about further decoding every aspect of aytm’s DNA—a process that takes place in a myriad of different ways and spans diverse and varied iterations in order to form a consistent visual identity.
What led you to build a career in design?
I’ve always been captivated by brands—ever since I was a small child. I remember painting the Red Hot Chili Peppers logo on my desk in bright red acrylic paint, or collecting NBA team logo cards with more passion than the player cards everyone else was collecting. I started into website design when I was 15 years old! Design has always been baked into who I am, so it was natural to lean into design as a career.
Where do you find inspiration?
When I was younger and just starting out, I found inspiration by looking outward—taking cues from what other designers were doing and drawing from their work. As I mature, I may on occasion find my muse in the art around me, but most of the time it comes from life: The power of music, the process of cooking, the great outdoors, and spending time with my family. I also draw inspiration through curiosity and a passion for learning. At its core, design is about solving problems and achieving simplicity, and that permeates through everything we do in life, so it’s easy to find a source of inspiration.
Let’s talk about process
Everything is purposeful. The creative team gets a lot of requests coming in from different parts of the company, but we approach each one with dedicated intention. We create components of the brand that are accommodating and flexible—that can serve various forms but deliver a cohesive feeling. This principle also helps drive our efficiency. We’re continually building our library of devices and elements that we can reference and pull from in order to address a growing array of needs. We were deliberate with our foundational brand elements, allowing us to produce meaningful work with fluidity and clarity. That’s proof of a brand built on good bones.
Tell us about aytm’s design style
There’s always been an aquatic theme to our brand, but we aimed to get to the core of what those motifs were all about. The ocean is so vast and full of so much potential, so we started out by thinking of our company as living within this environment and coming from this expanse of possibility. If you’re familiar with our brand, you’ll see a lot of ocean glass. It’s both an artifact and art. Nature crafts these without intervention. They were thrown out as jagged pieces of glass and through a transformative experience they come back as beautiful jewels. There’s something truly inspiring about finding them. And at the end of the day, that’s how we feel about insights too.
What sets the design language of aytm apart from others?
We like our brand elements to have stories. Our color palette, typefaces, ocean glass masks, illustration and photography style are considered as integral and distinct threads making up the larger tapestry of aytm. If you distill down every element of our brand, you find a reason for its existence in that specific form.
How does it all come together?
In the end, we faithfully visualized who we are in a way that I am proud of. The brand seamlessly emulates who we are as forward thinkers, but with roots. We’re fresh, organic and tech-driven at the same time. We aren’t trying to be anything different because we are distinctive by nature. That’s how it all comes together.
What’s your favorite aytm core value?
Empathy. It’s our driving force culturally. It makes us different from any other company I've worked with. We genuinely act and function from a place of understanding and human connection. The mindset is pervasive at all levels and it’s refreshing and inspiring.
How do you balance your career with aytm and personal life?
It’s sometimes difficult to separate work and life when you work from home. The office is just steps away, and Slack can be accessed from anywhere. It’s still something I'm learning to adjust to, but setting “office hours” helps, where I can dedicate time in a way that’s organized to promote productivity and balance for life’s needs.
Have you picked up any fun hobbies?
I’m just getting started collecting vinyl, which is both exciting and nostalgic. I grew up listening to vinyl and cassettes, and I have a deep appreciation for the authenticity of music that hasn’t been digitally perfected. Because I lived overseas for half of my adult life, it kept me from home ownership until this year. It’s been full of painting rooms and walls, building furniture and making a home that reflects the energy we want to receive back from it, while still functioning the way a family home must. I’ve always been interested in woodworking, concrete art, and custom lighting, so the house has given me the chance to get into those hobbies more.
What advice do you have for prospective aytm candidates?
Be yourself. Authenticity is a rare human commodity these days, and truly genuine people always end up where they should be.