College for Creative Studies: Product Design


Everett Keyser

Motor City Casino

Graphic Designer

Instead of jumping headfirst into a career that lacked the challenges and fulfillment he was seeking, Everett Keyser decided to explore his options after graduation. The experience ultimately landed him a job at MotorCity Casino and the opportunity to flex his design and leadership muscles.  

“I was freelancing during the week and working at a bar on weekends,” said Keyser. “One afternoon, I got a call from MotorCity Casino asking to see my portfolio. Turns out the marketing manager and I knew each other through the bar where I worked. I showed them my book, did a couple quick exercises and was hired.”

The casino originally created the graphic design artist position as a way to save money on smaller projects. But Keyser has expanded this role to encompass much more. From scratch, he has created an in-house design studio he now oversees with two other designers. He manages 20-25 projects a month while working with company executives, external advertising and interactive agencies and vendors.

“I consider making myself a valuable part of MotorCity Casino to be a great accomplishment,” said Keyser. “I have become so familiar with the casino brand that much of the time I am advising our ad agency on their creative direction.”

Keyser has worked on the casino’s web site, interactive displays on slot machines, ordering kiosks and a few motion graphics pieces, but most of his work consists of print projects. He has designed for a variety of formats including billboards, ads, point-of-sale signage, brochures, direct mail, t-shirts and vehicle wraps.

“Print has such a fantastic tactile quality that interactive and motion cannot match just yet,” explained Keyser. “The casino provides such a large print workload that until recently the interactive projects were usually relegated to the bottom of the to-do list.

“I especially love purely typographic work. As a freelancer, I created some unique logos for Simmer Down Vintage Bicycles, La Doulah Duo and Superior Reef. My favorite project of late is a menu I did for Iridescence, MotorCity Casino's gourmet restaurant. I feel its elegance stems from allowing the typeface and paper to stand out as the focal points of the design.”

Although Keyser enjoys his graphic design career at MotorCity, it is not without challenges. He finds project management to be the most difficult aspect of his job. At CCS Keyser learned that every project faces three constraints: time, quality and expense.

“The same limitations faced at CCS apply when working for clients, with more dramatic results,” he said. “A project can be done well; it can be done fast, or it can be done inexpensively. The client cannot have all three at once. The toughest part of my job is helping them decide how much of each to give up and still walk away with good design.”

As a high school senior, Keyser was intrigued by the fast, loose, vibrant sketching style used in industrial design. He decided to focus on the product design side of the discipline once he began taking courses at CCS. 

“The industrial design program was great because you could work in other studios of the school while getting credit for your core classes,” said Keyser. “I spent quite a bit of time in the metal shop and foundry and a little bit in the interactive media, ceramics and glassblowing studios… I've never been afraid to just dive into something and try it out. I think CCS may have something to do with that.”