The design of a product is at the heart of what Behrends Group does: beautiful, functional, custom signage that fits both aesthetic tastes and practical needs. Brilliant designers are integrated parts of our holistic system and stand at the forefront of bringing a client’s vision to life. Responsible for taking the message of clients from the consultation stage into real prototypical renderings of what their final products will be is a critical process and helps clients to envision their signs in the built environments they are meant for. Using the highest quality design work and the latest design technology, Behrends’ design team holds some of the biggest responsibility of the whole group.
Few people know the importance of their position better than Brent Tatarin, senior designer with Behrends Group. Brent has been in the design industry for over 20 years and, over the last 18 years with the company, has designed most of Behrends’ highest profile projects. As an indispensable part of the Behrends team, we are happy to put Brent in charge of this important task.
Tell me a little bit about your personal history and what brought you to Behrends.
I drew a lot during class when I was a kid and had a teacher who swore that I would never get a job unless it was where I could draw all day. My principal during Jr. High was great in encouraging my artistic side. Later, in high school, my career counsellor found the Graphic Design program for me at MacEwan University where I studied. When I finished, I worked in what I would call an “old school” print shop for a couple years before I got a call from MacEwan asking if I would be interested in switching my work as they had heard of a job opening with Behrends Group. I started working with the company in February 1997 and haven’t looked back!
The position I took at the old school print shop was invaluable. While they did have modern processes, I had access to all the old school techniques, that the tools in the modern software is based upon.
Can you tell me about some of your favourite moments while working for the company?
There are lots of favourite moments! There is always an amazing social aspect and a kindred spirit between staff members. We get to have a lot of social gatherings, parties and get-togethers, and we get to visit on coffee breaks. It’s wonderful to feel like such a close-knit group. I also love the focus on continuous, current education. I get to attend design conferences all over Canada and the United States to keep on the up-and-up with current trends and techniques in the field. The scope of the projects is also really cool. Getting to drive around the city and province, seeing something we have designed is very rewarding. Our touch is everywhere. The neat thing about making the switch from print design to my work at Behrends is that print only lasts as long as the paper does, but what we make here is mainly in custom metals and that’s not going anywhere. This is legacy-building design work.
As the senior designer, you are primarily responsible for managing the design of projects. What can you tell me about this particular aspect of your work? What specializations do you have?
I have to be familiar with the capabilities of what our entire team can do to know whether or not design project is realistic in its execution, regardless of the fact that I might not be the primary designer on that project. This familiarity allows me to decide what methods and materials are best, and it also allows me to properly delegate tasks our design team. As the Senior Designer, I get to know the skill set of each contributing member and can maximize their potential by assigning them projects that fit their individual strengths.
What sets this company apart from others? What, in your opinion, has made the company successful?
Hands down, it is the staff. The team of Behrends Group is so diverse and comes from a whole bunch of different backgrounds. Because our company is so unique, it really offers a lot of growth opportunities and the possibility of learning as you contribute as well.
What are some of the most memorable projects you have worked on so far? Do you have a favourite?
I like what we did on the Beaumont Hamel project. We were recreating a series of bronze plaques and replicating them perfectly, even down to the font. In typography, we have a process called kerning which involves the process of adjusting space between characters in a proportional font and in the originals, there was some mis-kerning which we replicated also. I’m a history buff so I find this sort of thing super interesting.
Of course, one of our most iconic projects is the Old Strathcona gate. And more recently, I was able to do consultative work on the Brewery District. As one of the main points of contact for the project, I was able to discuss with the client key design concepts and exchange ideas. The consultative role is something I very much look forward to, in addition to my design work.
What do you think the future holds for Behrends Group? What exciting new directions is the company moving in?
We are on the cusp of having a strictly consultative aspect developed in the company which makes us very different from other custom metal sign companies. Having design and build aspects under the same roof ramps up efficiency, economy and overall quality of end products. Plus, you get to be with a client for a project from consultation to installation and we love building those strong relationships.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to play hockey as much as possible and am happy to coach as well. Watching my two sons play hockey is equally as rewarding. I grew up on a farm, which has been in the family for over 100 years, on which my dad still farms, so I love to get out there and enjoy the outdoors. My wife and I would love to travel more now that our kids are older. In the meantime I enjoy working in the back yard, gardening and staying active with the family.