Jay O'Leary - Graphic Designer Who Grew Up at Goddard
Graphic Designer Jay O’Leary grew up at Goddard and now teaches young people his work philosophy.
Project Support Specialist in Graphic Design
Organization He Works For:
Code 100, Office of the Director
What do you do and what is most interesting about your role here at Goddard? How do you help support Goddard’s mission?
I provide project support for anything that requires graphic design. I never know when someone will need me to make something. It’s a live act. I create posters, presentations, flyers, banners, brochures, certificates, pop-up exhibits, and logos. I even design the 12 foot banners for each of the four entrance gates. I do everything in my small office. A banner is a big product to build in my small office, but I have to admit that a lot of the work goes on in the hallway with me on my hands and knees. It is a real conversation starter.
I have a lot of cool tools in my office. I have a large format printer which can print on paper 36 inches wide by 100 feet long, a cold laminator, cutting boards, and all kinds of foam core. I sometimes use a digital image library which has 750,000 different stock pictures. If someone wants a particular image, I just look in my library. If I cannot find what I want in the library, then I create it.
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Jay O'Leary in Shenandoah National Park. Photo courtesy: J. O'Leary
After working here 26 years, I am now often tapped as a mentor to young people. I really enjoy that part of my job. Often I ask the young people to help me with the larger projects and I help them with design issues. I try to teach them the philosophy of working here.
What is your philosophy of working here?
I’m on my sixth, small-business set-aside contract. These contracts are award-fee, performance-based, so there is a tremendous emphasis on total and complete customer service. I’ve come to embrace the values of these types of contracts – customer service, dedication, attention to detail, and teamwork. The whole culture of Goddard is about teamwork to do science. I love the variety of work. I love conceptualizing. Last year, I received the Code 100 Peer award, which makes me so very proud. This award means that my many customers over the years like me.
Who was your mentor?
My father, Bill O’Leary, was my mentor and my friend. He handled VIP’s and special projects at Goddard’s Public Affairs Office from 1962–1985. He was part of the machine that brought NASA to the public. He gave tours to everyone from U.S. presidents to movie stars, from President Nixon to Ethel Merman. But he always took the time to do new employee orientation. Because of him, I grew up at Goddard. I’ve been coming here since I was a kid. He got us up out of bed to watch the lunar landings. To a little kid, touring Goddard’s buildings was awe inspiring, almost like science fiction. After I started working here, Dad and I were a team for Goddard’s golf league. We won trophies four times and won the league championship once.
› Goddard View's article on Bill O'Leary (go to page 12)
What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done as part of your job at Goddard?
I just designed a color coin for the Center Director who wanted something specific to Goddard. The coin is 1 ½ inches in diameter, so the process was similar to designing a logo. I started by looking on the web to see how other coins had been designed. I spoke with the vendor to understand what was possible. The front of the coin has Goddard’s signature logo in gold, blue, and black. The back of the coin shows Goddard’s first rocket in gold and is based on a photograph of a very old medallion. I’m proud of this coin. Not only is the customer is happy, but these coins will become part of our legacy.
Is there something surprising about you, your hobbies, interests, activities outside of work that people do not generally know?
I play in an English dart league. We won a local championship last season. We play in the fall and spring. I can usually throw a bulls’ eye on demand. I know where the board is and I can throw a dart. I can often throw three darts into the bull’s eye one after the other. I’ve met many friends through the league. We’ve become a close group of friends who do other things together.
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