We had the good fortune of connecting with Christopher Knowles and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Christopher, we’d love to start by asking you about lessons learned. Is there a lesson you can share with us?
Traditional logic can only take you so far in being successful as a business owner or in a career. Listening to your intuition, and knowing when to take calculated risks, no matter how many people may disagree with you, is more valuable than gold.

What should our readers know about your business?
Well, I now run two businesses! (Bureau) Christopher Knowles is my design practice and I have been operating as the owner and head creative director/designer since 2013. I think what sets apart my practice from others is how deeply I believe in finding original concepts for original content. I love this idea that we are evolving as a human race, and I feel design is there to help us make sense of that as we all raise our consciousness together. My practice services this need for my clients. I’m proud to have stayed true to my passion as a designer while growing and overcoming the challenges that come with running an independent, small business. The hard part is to stick to your goals when times change. You can be short on money, time, resources, or clients…but having the faith in yourself and your business to weather the ups and downs is what keeps me going. Faith, flexibility, passion and perseverance. I welcome the challenges as wonderful learning opportunities to make my business more robust as I move along. As I’ve said before, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to ALWAYS trust your gut when you’re running your own show. You have to be authentic to your business values and be strong when protecting those values when times are trying. It pays off in the end and keeps your brand equity in top shape. The other business I direct (and founded) is Practise Makes Practice, INC., a newly founded 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Practise Makes Practice facilitates an innovative and inclusive design community through accessible programming, experiences and collaborative events which highlight the relevance of design in all aspects of life. We fill the gap between traditional design education and the unlimited potential of design practice; resulting in a vibrant, diverse, and creative design culture for Atlanta and beyond. I’m extremely proud of the formation of this organization. It is a way for me to give back all of the knowledge I’ve gained from teaching design, practicing design, and living in Atlanta. I love our city and I’ve always felt the design community deserves a great organization to bring it all together in an innovative way. I’m proud of seeing the idea of founding a nonprofit through, even without any prior experience or knowledge about how to do so. There have been MANY challenges: filing for a 501(c)(3) is a very nuanced process that’s heavy in language, paperwork, vision, and legalities, but I found out, it’s conquerable. Operating a nonprofit is very different from operating a regular for profit entity. You must form a board of directors, work with the board of directors to manage the organization. Then there’s funding…which as a public charity, you have to be on the lookout for funding opportunities wherever you can find them. Then of course, overcoming the challenges of the pandemic, that hit right at the very beginning of our inaugural operating year has brought its own bucket of challenges (which interestingly enough, provided a lot of clarity and director for us as a new nonprofit). All in all, the work is SO rewarding that I do. Whether running (Bureau) and working on design projects for clients, teaching and consulting, or directing Practise Makes Practice, I love how all of these separate but related enterprises engage the world, help people, build community, and bring me joy.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If you’re hanging with me, then first off, we will be spending lots of time hiking in the amazing nature interwoven throughout our city, be it Morningside Park, the Beltline, The Palisades by the River, Vickery Creek in Roswell, Kennesaw Mountain and Hiking around Stone Mountain. We’d definitely hit Kelly’s Market in Decatur to build a picnic to go take by the river at East Palisades on a nice day. There would be a few musts for food spots that I frequent: Oysters and cocktails at Kimball House, 8Arm for cocktails, Tacos at Supremo, Beers at Outrun Brewing, a visit to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market, Indian on Scott Blvd., The Nest in Kennesaw (after a hike) for some BBQ, Bon Ton for their House Boil, and without fail we’d hit up a big meal at Lyla Lila to get at Craig Richards cuisine. For dessert, we’d go to S.O.S. for painkillers with extra feel the burn. If we’re going out (which has changed a bit since the pandemic), but I’m always about 529 and whatever show they have. Then we go over to Mary’s and see what we can stir up and what cute boys may be hopping around. Wherever there is some house or techno playing, we’ll be there for sure, preferably until the early morning. Other then that, Atlanta is one of those cities where you’re always discovering something or someone new. When I’m hanging out, I shoot from the hip and let my instincts take me around. Sometimes, I’m looking for a low brow kinda night and I want to go to Clairmont, Friends on Ponce, or whatever. Sometimes I want to go highbrow and start at Bar Margot and then head to Umi for some soul-crushingly expensive sushi. Who knows!?! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have had some wonderful mentors along my path. Thomas Spaccerrelli, a professor of mine in undergrad really helped open my eyes spiritually. Sylvia Gaffney and Ron Moore, two instructors of mine during design school REALLLLLLY helped me find my individuality as a designer and gave me the structure to design intelligently. My parents have been supportive along my journey, even if they didn’t always understand my wayward ways toward success. I HAVE to give a big shout out to staff and interns that have worked for me over the past 8 years, as they have really helped my business grow, diversify perspective, and kept the engine going when a lot was going on at once. Shoutout to my clients for investing in my services and being great partners on projects over the years. I also would like to give a shoutout to my board of directors at Practise Makes Practice. They are such a talented, smart, and experienced bunch and I greatly appreciate them believing in the vision from the very beginning. Otherwise, major shoutout to the Atlanta creative community. I’m convinced we have one of the most supportive creative communities in the world. Everyone backs everyone and supports great projects, ventures, and ideas.

Website: www.christopher-knowles.com / practise-practice.org

Instagram: @christopherknowles @bureauchristopherknowles @practise_practice

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ckckckck/

Image Credits
Wyatt Kane (Photography)

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