Upending the work-wife balance

3 min read

Their mouths don’t say it, but their eyes do.

“You crazy, dude?”

I’m talking about the people, primarily males, who I’ve told that my wife now works alongside me at Well Done Marketing, and that I had a big hand in bringing her here.

Since I know the question is on their minds if not their lips, I’ll go ahead and answer it: Yes, I am crazy. CRAZY FOR AWESOME DESIGN.

I kid, but only a little bit. My wife, Amy McAdams Gonzales, is an awesome designer. Her work, which you can still see at her old business’s website, bears that out. Her logos are consistently fresh and modern, and always reflect the character of the brands they serve. Her layouts—whether for a poster or a page—dazzle with clean lines and smart type treatment. Most impressively, her designs are driven as much by ideas as by aesthetics. Amy’s sensibility is playful, intelligent, often funny, and always unmistakably her.

Amy & Matt
The author and his wife peruse the latest issue of The Great Discontent together.

Over the past 10 years, Amy’s work—restaurant logos, T-shirt designs, promotional posters for art exhibitions and other events—has left an indelible mark on Indianapolis. People who love design know Amy. Her peers admire and respect her. On top of all of that, she’s a sharp marketing thinker and a great teacher. All of this is to say that Well Done is lucky, very lucky, to have Amy, and so are our clients.

But what about me? Am I lucky? Crazy? Delusional? Dumb?

Look: Working with one’s spouse isn’t a good idea for everyone. But the disciplines Amy and I practice—copywriter and designer—are meant to pair together. In advertising, when two creatively compatible people pair up, an exhilarating kind of alchemy happens. It’s kind of like DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, but instead of “He’s the DJ and I’m the Rapper,” It’s, “She’s the Designer and I’m the Writer.”

Just like DJs and rappers, designers and copywriters need each other. But finding the right co-conspirator is hard. Ask any designer or copywriter and they’ll tell you: Cultivating chemistry with a fellow creative takes time, and sometimes even time won’t do the trick. Some people just never click.

When Amy and I met at work back in 2000, we clicked right away. Our aesthetic dispositions were, and still are, in freakily close alignment. That’s not to say we always agree. We disagree a lot, and that’s maybe the most valuable thing about our close relationship. We can be honest with each other in a way non-married people can’t. That’s an invaluable asset when you’re doing the deeply subjective work of solving creative problems.

Speaking of invaluable assets: That’s what Amy is to Well Done Marketing. The job search that ended in her hiring wasn’t intended to land an Associate Creative Director. But when we learned Amy was open to leaving her business and coming to work with Well Done, we had to make it work. It’s like Larry Bird’s draft philosophy: If a player with game-changing talent is available when it’s your turn to pick, you take him whether he addresses your most pressing need or not.

That’s not to say Amy isn’t addressing a need for us. She’s only been here two months, and she has already made a huge impact. Her commitment to quality, her skill at collaborating with colleagues and clients, her potential as a leader—she’s a game-changer for sure.

As for Amy’s and my work-life relationship: Do we squabble over where to go to lunch on some days, or whether the kerning is too tight on a headline, or a whether a certain kind of paper is too expensive? Yes, yes, and yes. Will I ever regret having her here? No way. As far as I’m concerned, ‘til death do this writer and designer part.