My life’s journey began in Ohrid, Macedonia—a picturesque city on the banks of Lake Ohrid. It was at this early stage of my life where the seed of creativity began to blossom as my parents and close friends noticed my thirst for creative expression as a young boy. I was always drawn to anything that allowed my creativity to roam freely. As I entered my teenage years I sought to express my innermost thoughts in some artistic form, so naturally my passion for the arts grew stronger. Suddenly at the age of 13, my family decided to emigrate to the U.S. in search of a better future for us all.
Even though I had been transplanted and thrust into a new culture unlike anything I had ever experienced before, my urge to express my creativity only intensified. It became a form of therapy for me since I was going through so many emotions trying to adapt to the American way of life. The language was different. The customs were different. In fact, I began leading a sort of dual-life—I attended high school in the U.S. and at the same time, I spent my summers vacationing in my hometown.
It was during my first years in college that I had zeroed in on music as my primary avenue of expression and it morphed into a true passion of mine. I was still visiting Ohrid in the summer while I was attending school stateside and on one fortuitous night out in Ohrid, I met one of the most preeminent R&B artists in Macedonia at the time. He went on to invite me to perform alongside him later that night. I felt an indescribable rush performing for my first time in front of so many people and I was even more surprised at the crowd’s warm reception. It was in this moment I decided to commit to refining my skills as a vocalist and performer. This commitment to self-improvement and perfecting my craft is something I carry with me till this day and its helped me push the boundaries of my creativity as a professional designer.
After that night, I immersed myself into creating music—specifically writing lyrics about my day-to-day life experiences. I even enlisted the help of a very talented, Macedonian music producer to help me create a debut studio album I could be proud of. At the same time, I had attracted some attention from certain media outlets, eventually participating on a major national television show to compete with other singers. I was well on my way to stardom and possibly beyond the borders of my native country, but ultimately reality set in. Many of my music recordings were personally funded and I understood that I needed to choose a stable career to support myself financially. Perhaps I could give music another chance down the line.
I began to notice some parallels between making music and design, specifically how each was fueled by the same passion—an urge for creative expression. If I was going to shift towards a stable career and leave my music behind, my need to create and be unique in my work had to be fulfilled. Creative design became the logical choice. It was the best of both worlds. It was a rewarding profession that did not stifle or suffocate my creativity. As with any profession, I decided to learn the fundamentals of design so I enrolled in a 5-year university program in the U.S. to attain a degree in Fine Arts with a concentration in Graphic Design and Photography. With an educational foundation in design paired with my creative intuition, I set out to secure my first corporate, full-time role as a designer and with that I entered the next phase of my life.
With one year to go before I could graduate, I was granted an internship opportunity to join Ellie Tahari as a designer and photographer for the summer. This was my first corporate position and even though I was still in school and just beginning my career, I was entrusted with managing the company’s onsite photo studio and developing seasonal look books for Ellie Tahari’s latest clothing lines. It was a great first step in my professional career.
After graduating from William Paterson University in the Spring of 2012 and spending some time on the job market, I was offered a position at Pac Team Group, a leading package design and production company. As a Junior Graphic Designer at Pac Team Group, I was able to sharpen my design skills by working with some of the top brands in the world on both digital and print-based mediums. Being the first full-time, professional design role of my early career, I learned what it meant to have accountability for my work product, and dealt with the pressure of working on multiple projects and delivering finished products on time. My experience at Pac Team Group truly laid the foundation of my design career going forward—a foundation that I would continue to build upon as I decided to accept an offer from GRM Document Management to become their Senior Designer.
GRM granted me the opportunity to work for a large, global corporation focusing mainly on digital design and more importantly, I’d be calling the shots from a design perspective. As their Senior Graphic Designer, I focused on visually revamping their entire website of 83+ pages and helped elevate their global brand identity and positioning. At times, it did feel like I had bitten off more than I could chew, but I faced these moments of adversity head-on and as a result became a more well-rounded designer. After 14 months on the job, I knew it was time to take on a bigger challenge.
The next phase of my career began with Webcollage (now Syndigo), a leading cloud-based e-commerce platform headquartered in the heart of NYC in Times Square. What first attracted me to this role as Webcollage’s newest Senior Designer was the opportunity to serve as a full-stack designer and collaborate side-by-side with some of the largest retail brands in the world. Working for Webcollage was a breath of fresh air. It felt like every week I was tasked with a new project for a different global retailer and the marketing/design focus always varied. This level of spontaneity with my assignments kept me engaged and very much challenged. Things were moving along smoothly when out of nowhere, I was laid off. Apparently, Webcollage had received a generous buyout offer from a major industry player and so they opted to sell the company.
Although I was laid off, I had set my sights on securing an Art Directorship for a prominent agency. After taking some time to recharge mentally as well as survey some potential job opportunities, I joined QuallsBenson, a premier advertising agency in NYC. As their new Art Director, I became the creative lead for all design initiatives and I oversaw the entire design department. Unlike my previous roles, the stakes were much higher now and the job was much harder—managing an entire design team and ensuring the outcomes of million-dollar projects were flawless. These were high-visibility projects in terms of the number of consumers exposed to my designs. The idea that tens of millions of people throughout the globe would be viewing and interacting with my work was a feeling unlike anything I’ve ever experienced as a professional designer. Ultimately, I decided to leave behind my art directorship in an effort to pursue a long-time dream of mine and to go into business for myself.
There is nothing like the freedom that comes with running your own design agency. I am the sole decision-maker on both the business and creative side. More importantly, I love catering to the design needs of my clients and ensuring they always receive the utmost attention and service. When I worked for design and advertising agencies in the past, there was a certain lack of personalized care. It was all about maximizing profit. With my own agency, I decided to take a different approach. I firmly believe that if you take care of your client first, they will take care of you in return. Becoming fully invested in the success of your customer is how you earn the trust of your clientele. So far, this approach has allowed our young agency to secure a number of new customers across a variety of verticals and we continue to gain momentum.
Where I’ll be in a year, or five years from now, is uncertain, but I do know I’ll stay true to the founding values of Trpeski Design. I will continue to use the creative energy that I cultivated in my early years in Ohrid. I’ll continue to think of fresh, unique solutions to the design challenges facing our customers. As a design team, we’ll continue to leverage our combined experience and skill sets to create game-changing brands. And last but not least, what fuels the completion of every project task is our strongest agency belief—our customer’s success is also our success. Also, we’ve been able to remain motivated in the work we do because we’re focused on positively impacting the world around us. We venture to create brands that will stand the test of time and inspire people to become the best version of themselves.