Select Page

So you want to know about 989 Design? Well, first and foremost, 989 Design is a graphic design studio. I work in all areas of marketing communications, but what I really love to do most is to take your ideas and bring them to life visually. In the past I’ve had other people working with me, but recently made a few changes with the studio and decided that I want to operate as a one-man shop. Up until May 2015, I was working in a studio in a really great 130-year-old bank building in the Historic Midland Street Business District. Over the past eight years I’ve been in the Midland Street studio, though, I’ve only had a handful of meetings at my office. Most people prefer to have me come to their office, which is actually beneficial because I can take a look at what they’ve done in the past and get a better feel for their business. And the fact that it’s more convenient for the client is a nice bonus.

Oh geez…where are my manners? I totally forgot to introduce myself. My name is Shawn MacDonald, your tour director on this brief history of 989 Design. 989 traces its roots back to Denver, Colorado where I was working as a studio artist for a big ad agency. I worked with a lot of really talented and interesting people on a wide variety of projects for some of the biggest companies in the world including Coors Brewing, Coca-Cola and many more. I left the agency and started my own freelance business, Shawn MacDonald Creative. I made some decent connections in Denver and was lucky enough to count Converse and Hot Pockets among my freelance clients. In addition, I continued to work with Coors and other agency clients as a subcontractor.

My first studio was a small room on the back of my home. I could see the mountains and watch the sunset, both of which are great for inspiration, but can also be great for distraction. I was doing pretty well and had the business growing nicely when I decided that I wanted to move back home to Michigan to be closer to family. In August of 2004 I packed up my house and my dogs and we drove to Bay City, Michigan—the town I grew up in.

For the first couple of years I was in Bay City, I converted one of the extra bedrooms in my house to a nice studio, but in summer of 2007 I was able to find a great studio space just over a half-mile from the house. The studio was located at 701 Midland Street—right in the heart of Bay City’s entertainment district. I spent eight years in that studio, at first working alone and then working with another designer for a while. In addition, I had several paid interns and part-time designers working with me.

For a while it was a lot of fun, having people to collaborate with, but at times I started to feel that I was getting a little too removed from the actual work of design. I didn’t open a graphic design studio to become a business person. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the business aspects of owning a studio, but I want to design things, to make things. I agonized over a decision I knew I wanted to make, mostly because I really did love the building I was in and I loved my landlords, but I knew that the time had come to close up the shop and move back to my home studio (a room I had barely set foot in for 8 years). So here I am, back where I started ten years ago. The biggest difference now is that I’m here with my 8-month-old puppy, Daisy. It’s pretty great to be able to spend all day with her. She’s not always great for my concentration, but she’s a lot of fun and forces me to get up and move around throughout the day.

These days it is mostly me working on most projects, but I do have a few freelance designers and programmers I work with to help me out with things, especially when it comes to web design. I love making things look great, but don’t know the first thing about programming, so I put together the look of the site and how everything is going to work and hand it off to one of my wildly talented programmers to bring it all to life.

Being a one-man shop gives me a lot of advantages that you don’t have with larger agencies because we don’t have the overhead of a big agency. You get the highest quality work available with out the hidden costs of hiring an agency. I’m not going to nickel-and-dime you. When I give you a price, that’s the price you will pay. And I’m not happy with a job until you are.

One of my proudest accomplishments is that I still have some of the same clients I first landed almost fifteen years ago. Even though we are located in Michigan, we still work with some clients in Denver and thanks to the internet, we can work with clients anywhere in the world.

It’s a tricky business, this business of bringing life to people’s ideas. And it’s a business I take very seriously. My mission is to take your ideas and communicate them, striking a balance between aesthetics and effectiveness.

If you have a project coming up and you think 989 Design might be a good fit, please e-mail or give me a call at 989.895.3560. If you don’t have a project coming up, please feel free to drop me a line and say hello anyway. It’s always nice to make new friends.