José has been the creative director at Metaleap since he founded the firm in 2002. After receiving his BFA in 1995 from Savannah College of Art and Design, he worked as a designer at several major advertising and design firms in the South. Over the years he has received a variety of accolades, the most memorable being the “My Hero” trophy crafted and given to him by his daughter when she was eight years old. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Turkey, Utah, New Mexico and Florida, his love and curiosity of all things keeps him traveling and searching for inspiration in the world around him.
Nikolle has been the vice president and managing director of Metaleap since 2004. Nikolle earned a Master’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA from Goizueta Business School at Emory University. She served as a partner and consultant to Metaleap from the very beginning, providing key strategic and organizational advice to the growing start-up while simultaneously maintaining a career as an investment banker on Wall Street. Later, she made the jump from finance and began using her wide-ranging experience to serve Metaleap and its clients. She now gets to walk through projects with clients and explore the possibilities for their companies, and manages the “business of the business.”
Eric got his start in the New York City advertising world after graduating from University of Georgia with a BFA in Graphic Design. Lured by his love of magazines and the smell of barbecue, Eric moved back to Georgia where he later became Design Director of Atlanta Magazine. After a stint at WIRED in San Francisco, Eric is once again back on his beloved East Coast as part of our talented Metaleap team.
After graduating from the University of North Texas with a BFA in Communication Design, Sarah moved to Atlanta from Houston to join Metaleap’s design team. In her free time, Sarah can usually be spotted illustrating whatever has recently inspired her or nestled in a chair with her cat, a cup of tea, and an intriguing book.
Born in the South but raised in France, Marie-Claire isn’t sure where to call home. She earned a B.A. in journalism from Asbury University and an M.A. in Communication from Baylor University. She then worked at a few nonprofits in Atlanta before joining Metaleap. She’s an amateur baker and TV critic, and is always planning her next trip to a new city.
Tiffany joined Metaleap after earning a BFA from Georgia State University, and spends the majority of her creative energy on publication design. An avid collector of postcards, vinyl and unique books, she hits up as many places around the globe as her schedule allows. You can usually find her scoping out taco joints around Atlanta, watching a Wes Anderson film, or playing office D.J.
Elizabeth earned a BFA in Graphic Design from Auburn University in her hometown of Auburn, Alabama. Shortly after graduating, Elizabeth made the move to Georgia to work at Metaleap. She loves exploring her new city and has recently been stretching her creative muscles by taking ceramics classes, from which her kitchen cupboards (and roommate) are highly benefitting.
Dimitri immigrated to the U.S. in 1998, but is still 100% Greek. After earning a BA in Communication from Georgia State University, he found his sweet spot in product management and hospitality. Spending time as an operations coordinator at Chick-fil-A paved the way for what he now contributes to the Metaleap team. When he’s not juggling publication deadlines or arranging design schedules, Dimitri enjoys digging in the dirt with his daughter and joining his wife on photography adventures.
After receiving her BFA in 2001 from Savannah College of Art and Design, Ashley moved to New York, where she worked at Coach for a number of years. She eventually moved to Atlanta with her husband and joined Metaleap in 2013. She now enjoys working in a drama-free zone and eating pizzas with more than five toppings.
Ashley has been a designer at Metaleap since 2012. Having earned a BFA in Graphic Design from Auburn University, she specializes in illustration, hand lettering, and specialty print. Originally from the suburbs, she’s grown to love Atlanta life and enjoys exploring new coffee shops with her husband. When she’s not creating a magazine cover or tweaking designs for our latest brand, you can find her curled up with a novel or dreaming up her next travel adventure.
Harold earned his BA from Baruch College in Manhattan. He has designed for Forbes Magazine, Martha Stewart Living and Rolling Stone Magazine, among others. Lucky for us, he was willing to make the move to Atlanta and joined Metaleap in 2013.
How is Metaleap different from other companies or agencies?
JR: We create space for our clients to “see” beyond what they could have ever imagined, but do so in a highly relational and collaborative manner. We never place ourselves above our clients.
NR: We desire to have relationships with our clients, not just remain transactional. The same goes for our employees and vendors—we want to care as much or more for the people than the project. In the end, that helps make the projects great.
EC: Metaleap is both ‘big city’ and ‘small town.’ There’s energy and endless inspiration, but also a relaxed and friendly vibe: A unique blend that happens to suit my personality!
AM: Good people! Having worked in a creative role for over 10 years, I’ve noticed that there seem to be consistent personality traits that come with the territory: egotistical, narcissistic and dramatic, just to name a few. It’s the exact opposite here. Good people, good work, good clients.
TW: Our concentration on details and the responsibility we take for our work and our clients.
Is it hard working with your spouse?
JR: A typical conversation between us during “non-working hours” often goes something like this: “I was just thinking about that thing with the client/project. I think we should…” But it’s worth it. Metaleap would not function without Nikolle.
NR: It is great working with José, but it is hard being married to my business partner. No matter how hard we try, work seems to creep into life all the time.
Favorite working lunch?
JR: Chai Pani in Decatur. Also, our “Show and Tell” lunches— each person brings something creative that inspires them and shares it with everyone.
NR: Anywhere, I love eating out. And our “Show and Tell” lunches at the office.
MC: Anything besides a sad salad alone at my desk; preferably something involving chopsticks.
TF: Tacos. All day, every day.
What’s your antidote to boredom?
NR: I am never bored, ever.
TF: Protein and blog-breaks.
AS: Drawing letters and words with an ink pen.
JW: A DIY activity that involves a trip to Hobby Lobby & Home Depot, or roaming through Restoration Hardware and piecing together room designs– that’s a quick fix to boredom any day.
What helps you get to that “a-ha” moment when you’re designing/strategizing/etc.?
MC: As long as I remain mindful that the quality of my work affects a lot of other people, I am able to stay productive. Also, coffee.
TF: I’m a sketcher and list-maker. My pencil has to be moving and I’ll eventually get to it, but it’s always a tiny miracle.
AM: Lots of research, critical thinking, question-asking. Allowing things to marinate, then slowly starting to carve out a solution and fully realize an idea. Lots of feedback, editing, perfecting, delivering.
AS: I have to talk about it. I’ll sit down and do sketches for a little while, but then I freak out because I have to see if what I’m even thinking is possible or good or right.
JW: I’m big on researching. Looking at other materials, mood boards, etc. Then collaboration paired with music, coffee, and white board has the makings of a great “a-ha” moment.
Why do you do what you do?
DI: I love being immersed in the creative world while bringing to the table my non creative skill-set.
EC: I’m not sure it’s a choice; I’m always creating something. It’s an instinct.
MC: I enjoy being behind the scenes, taking care of details that people might not think of.
AM: I believe in the power of aesthetic and good communication. I wake up when I see things around me that are purposefully beautiful and thoughtful. Good design is something you want to consume, ingest, inhabit. It’s something that gets under your skin and in your brain. It opens your eyes and makes you think. It plays a tremendous role in so many things. It’s just wonderful.
Make the case for small agencies.
JR: Fewer clients. Better relationships.
NR: We know what we are good at, and don’t stray far from that. We don’t try to be everything to everyone, and we only take the projects that are a good fit for us personally and professionally.
EC: Big agencies are inherently cliquey. A small agency is a cohesive team that fosters collaboration and more personalized feedback.
JW: Small agencies have the ability to hold on tight to things that make great design. Instead of mass producing, not only can we keep revisiting nostalgic approaches to design, but we have the ability to innovate beyond what is just trending, creating things you won’t see in mass market until two or three years later.
DI: Quality, not quantity! #amiright!?
What do you love most about being in charge?
JR: Casting a vision for our clients that invites them into the possibility of a much larger story for their project.
What drives you crazy when you’re trying to concentrate?
NR: When random people come in the office to try and sell us things.
AS: When it’s too loud to hear my own thoughts.
HV: Loud conversations or music.
TW: Nothing can really stop me if I want to concentrate.
Do you have a favorite band that will never go out of style?
JR: Hmm, how much room do I have? Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Etta James, The Clash, Led Zeppelin, The Black Keys…
EC: My favorite band of all time is The Beatles, but that’s a little cliché. The Kinks, Bowie, Talking Heads, T. Rex, Velvet Underground, Stevie Wonder… all timeless.
MC: I am all over the place– Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson, Elton John, The Allman Brothers and old-school show tunes. But… I also believe in the redemptive power of a Taylor Swift album on a bad day.
TF: Oh man. NEVER? The Beatles.
TW: Cage the Elephant.