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Bascome makes his mark in Boston as top designer

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His father used to tell him, “Show them better than you can tell them.”

And that’s just what Daren Bascome went on to do.

Proclaimed “one of the most sought-after designers in Boston”, Mr Bascome is the founder of the global brand-building, marketing, web design, and communications agency Proverb.

“We specialise in consumer experiences that move products, ideas, and organisations to market strength quickly for a broad portfolio of clients,” Mr Bascome said.

“Our approach focuses on bold, assertive, effective design solutions by establishing new markets and disrupting old ones.”

The agency is based in Boston, but its clients are global, including here in Bermuda, where he recently landed a contract with the Bermuda Hospitals Charitable Trust.

Mr Bascome, a graduate of Berkeley High School, said he first caught the design bug by watching his family build a traditional Bermuda home.

After graduating from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Mr Bascome worked for a company in Boston before being layed off. But that turned out to be the kick he needed to start his own agency from his living room!

His agency has since grown to a team of 13 employees, and has received numerous accolades for its cutting-edge work.

Mr. Bascome has designed brands and marketing campaigns for museums, corporations, hotels, restaurants, universities, and organisations, including: Harvard, Tufts, National Museum of Australia, Taiwan Museum of Natural History, The American Jazz Museum, Radius Restaurant, Hotel Veritas, Bacardi, Pfizer, Orbis, Bermuda Tourism, Greenrock, and the Bermuda Underwater Exploration.

He said the best advice he can give anyone who wants to own their own business is: “Failure is part of the process of doing anything innovative. Just don’t get stuck at failure.”

Proverb has worked on a number of marketing projects for Bermuda companies and organisations and Mr. Bascome is excited about his new project with the Hospital.

“We are currently wrapping up the first phase of a campaign for Bermuda Hospitals Charitable Trust, which includes brand strategy and positioning as well as developing leading messages, advertisements, and digital communications.

“This is the type of project that aligns the best of who we are both personally and professionally. We focused not only on the new facility and services, but also expanded on why good health matters.

“Like a lot of Bermudians, I’ve interacted with the hospital on a personal level over the last two years. Visits to the hospital by my immediate family has given me the perspective of a patient or loved one and has turned this into something more than just fundraising, but rather about building a vehicle to increase dialogue around healthcare and how that impacts how we spend our time with the people we care about.“

Proverb has also just landed a contract to partner with UNAIDS, Geneva.

And he said, “We have been working on a large project that has an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) that we are very excited about but cannot disclose until the summer of 2012.”

We asked Mr. Bascome to answer the following questions:

How did you get started in design and what is your educational background?

I am a design graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and recently completed a year-long program for entrepreneurs at Boston University.

I am also a 2006 alumni of Lead Boston, a leadership and development programme focused on business and social justice.

I am a big believer that a lot of your education happens in the world, and that personally, I’ve gotten as much out of international travel, reading newspapers, and listening to NPR as time spent in the classroom.

As far back as I can remember I have always been interested in art, culture, and science. Design is about purpose and function, but it’s also about empathy, and understanding as to how a user adopts or buys into a product, culture, and idea.

I grew up in a time when many Bermudians were designing and building their own homes; my parents built a fairly non-traditional one.

I was able to participate in that creative process with my dad and sister’s godfather (the architect) and it is where I really was first exposed to design; they turned those ideas into a home, an identity, and an outlook. I mean wow. Needless to say, I have a creative family, both parents being musicians, one being a professional jazz composer and arranger.

During the summers I interned at Aardvark, a local agency. In my extra time I would create concert and club flyers. I did these for two reasons, one being that I now had a venue to execute on my creative vision with a lot of autonomy, and two being that I was able to depart on an entrepreneurial path that increased my income.

I spent a great deal of time working in the multi-disciplined world of museum design. Working on projects like the National Museum of Australia, the Aquarium Barcelona, and the American Jazz Museum.

I’ve learned that the process is highly collaborative, content driven and based on turning learning objectives into stories. It produces an experience that is truly immersive. That approach is evident at Proverb and has been a major point of differentiation. We produce bold, assertive brands that connect, period.

How did you start your own agency?When I first started out of college it was inside economic conditions much like the ones we are currently experiencing, so starting as a freelance designer was more about survival than having a grand vision. You quickly realise that you only eat what you can kill, and I was fortunate to have graduated with strong skills and design portfolio that allowed me to work with organisations, create value and brand and design solutions.

While working at an agency early in my career, I heard of layoff rumours and approached the controller with my concerns. When I left her office, we had negotiated a layoff package based on my experience and loyalty, which included my work computer and afforded me a fresh new start (in my living room).

The first year following my layoff was a whirlwind, but led to my relationships and work with MIT, Boston Museum of Science and Radius, which is now one of the most celebrated restaurants in Boston. The recent transitions and building of Proverb as a firm over the past three years has allowed for an expansion in our approach and capacity, and in reach. I’ve also taken on a new partner, in the form of Christine Needham, who has graced us with her business and design sensibilities and has extended our high-touch client services.

What design projects are you most proud of?

Over the last 18 months, we’ve worked on projects with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, The Hotel Veritas, Liberty Mutual, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, World Festival of Black Arts & Culture in Senegal and Bermuda Hospitals Charitable Trust.

One of the projects that stand out when looking at my past work is the American Jazz Museum. The American Jazz Museum really changed my life and showed me how much the line can blur between who you are and what you do.

It was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity that afforded me the chance to work with subject matter that I was passionate about, people I admire and learn how to build an audience and how to meet and or exceed their expectations.

I quickly realised that I was working on something much larger than what could fit on my desk; it was also bigger than me.

What advice would you give others wanting to make a name for them selves outside Bermuda?

First and foremost, I think it is important to truly find your passion. Connect with industry leaders who are innovative and inspiring, and accessible in Bermuda and beyond. Find mentors who are best in class.

Growing up I never saw a restriction around being in Bermuda, that said, Boston was not necessarily the standard for me, either.

It is important to perform at a global standard and develop bold and actionable plans wherever you have to fortune to perform your craft. It is also important to take risks, failure is part of the process of doing anything innovative. Just don’t get stuck at failure.

Surround yourself with positive people they don’t have to be in exactly the same field or even on the same continent who are passionate and disciplined.

Many times this fusion creates a cross pollination of ideas, inspiration and innovation. Find them in school or in life, but just as importantly, find people who are different from you. Choose mentors for different reasons and continually pull from them for council.

Another piece of advice I have always treasured is something my dad used to say, “Show them better than you can tell them.”

It gave me the confidence to actually show my work and to learn from feedback.

If you know of someone you think should be profiled in our series Bermudians Abroad, e-mail mmello[AT]royalgazette.bm

Daren Bascome's advertising campaign for the Hotel Veritas
Daren Bascome

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Published August 29, 2011 at 10:00 am (Updated August 28, 2011 at 7:35 pm)

Bascome makes his mark in Boston as top designer

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