You might be wondering, what does LookatLao mean? That's a tough one. At this point it's a non sequitur for all intents and purposes. It's part inside joke, part outside connotation, and all nonsense. But it stuck, so I guess that's what matters. It has nothing to do with the country of Laos. It's a name we came up with, that's all. I often consider changing it so I don't have to poorly explain it each time I get a new client, but I never do. I guess 25 years of brand equity is too much to discard at this point.
LookatLao Studio is run by me, Geoffrey Smith. I am an avowed generalist.1 I offer skills in graphic design, web design & development, photography, information architecture and brand strategy. I have a tendency to work with people in the restaurant industry. My clients are varied but I gravitate toward small business owners. I am capable of planning, designing and building websites but I also work with more skilled backend developers as projects require it. I take a lot of photographs.
Drop me an email if you would like to discuss a future project or even if you just want to say hello.
LookatLao Studio formed in the mid-eighties as the tongue-in-cheek production house of several close friends and myself. We spent our late teens (and late nights) making short films, playing garage-band masterpieces and hosting poetry readings among other boho endeavors2 before finally disbanding and heading our own separate ways.
After an brief stint in design school I continued to use the name LookatLao Studio as I began my venerable career as a part-time designer and full-time waiter. After some idle time in the mid-nineties another diversion brought me to Thailand where I quickly assumed the role of English Professor3 for a couple of years before finally making my way back to Seattle in 1998.
This was a good year to jump back into the design world as the whole internet thing was just starting to take off. After wandering into an HTML class by chance, LookatLao was officially reborn as a web design studio4 and swiftly became somewhat successful. But, soon enough I was lured away to work as lead interactive designer at a fancy pants design firm5 where I spent the next seven years learning how the real world does it.6
During my time in the agency world I did a fair amount of moonlighting where I combined my rediscovered passion for design with my old career in the restaurant business. I soon had a handful of the best chefs in Seattle as freelance clients. I was turning down a lot of work when I realized what needed to happen next.
In early 2010 I left the agency world to finally hang that shingle once and for all. LookatLao has finally arrived as a full-service graphic design and photography studio.7 The rest will be history someday.
1 "Specialization is for insects." — Robert A. Heinlein
2 This was a lifetime before the internet. I often wonder if YouTube were around back then, whether or not we would have become extremely rich and famous.
3 This was one of those things that happens all at once without warning and then manages to define the rest of your life entirely.
4 I freelanced full time and still managed to wait tables on the weekends to make extra money.
5 Phinney/Bischoff Design House. They offered salary. And benefits. It was a great experience.
6 As it turns out, the real world spends a lot of time in meetings.
7 Hire me.