Everyone has a tale to spin about how they got started in this crazy business called Graphic Design. Kevin Carbone, one of the the original founders of Comp Design, relates his story and hopefully it will inspire newcomers to the business.


Since early on in life I always had an interest in both business and design. From the ages of 10-15 years old I was a paperboy delivering papers door-to-door every day through rain, snow, and hot sun. This created a sense of responsibility and taught me how to deal with people in a business fashion. Some experiences were good and some were bad, however it was all valuable. In college I had a small landscaping business with a friend. This created a spark that someday I would like to own my own business, but the question was what would I do?


My earliest experience with design was when my friends and I eagerly awaited the new car designs of the late fifties and early sixties. Back then cars had fins, chrome, and two tone paint jobs. What made it even more exciting was each brand had a radically different design every year. As a teenager I was fascinated by the designs of the rock and roll concert posters that were the main advertising media for the music business during the fifties, sixties and seventies. Color, photography, type styles - it was all there with the main purpose to entice you to buy a ticket to the show. I thought to myself - how does someone get into this field and what it is called anyway?



Armed with four years of high school drafting experience, I knew my way around a T-square and drawing board. Although I enjoyed drafting, I really wanted to pursue something more exciting - but what could this be? After a lot of research, I discovered that the field of commercial art was where I needed to be heading. After all, one would be creating art for business purposes. I figured this was the perfect combination. Interestingly the term “commercial art” was being replaced by a new name called “graphic design”. Graphic design could best be described as communicating ideas and/or messages through design and visual principles such as color, type style, placement of elements, creative photography and illustration. Graphic design was a more intellectual and thoughtful approach than just creating pretty pictures that looked nice. It called for problem solving. As graphic designers it is our job to create a design, which communicates the message to the clients’ audience. Needless to say, I was hooked on this concept of designing for business.


In 1970 I decided to attend Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, CT for two years to fulfill of my core courses. I happily discovered that there was a big emphasis on art at Housatonic with the school owning the largest art collection of any community college in the country. I took several of the art classes offered and enjoyed all of them. Now I knew that I was on the right track. Around this time, I was fortunate to meet and befriend a famous theatrical/celebrity photographer by the name of Anthony J. Bruno and his wife Angela. Tony, as he liked to be called, worked under the professional name of “Bruno of Hollywood” and had his studio in the Carnegie Hall Building in NYC. His famous “Bruno of Hollywood” logo could be seen on the lower corner of many of the famous celebrities that he photographed. Over the years Tony became a mentor to me not only for

                            photography but also for life in general.


Next stop after Housatonic was the University of Bridgeport’s graphic design program. As much as I liked Housatonic College and the groundwork that it created, I truly found my calling at the University of Bridgeport’s graphic design department. The professors were all Yale art graduates who taught the Yale graphic design program. This program was based on Yale professor Josef Alber’s design and color theories. I took to all the design classes like a fish to water. Every course was exciting to me and my enthusiasm couldn’t have been higher.


While I was attending UB, a good buddy of mine Louis Markoya, asked me to photograph him with his mentor who

was the famous surrealist artist Salvador Dali. Lou had met Dali and the two hit it off right from the start, with Lou studying with Dali for several years. Dali had been Lou’s mentor in much the same way that Tony Bruno was mine, so I understood the importance of these photos to Lou. I photographed them during a party at the Saint Regis Hotel in NYC sometime either late 1973 or early 1974. I remember Mr. Dali as being very friendly and talking with us exclusively for about a half hour before the other guests arrived. Looking back, it was quite an experience for this aspiring college kid to meet and photograph one of the world’s most famous artists.


An interesting side note is that when I was in high school I was an average student (except drafting class where I got A’s). At Housatonic College and the University of Bridgeport I evolved into an honor student! It just goes to show you that once you find your niche with something you enjoy and have the skills, you will excel. After college in 1974 I worked for several companies both full time and free-lance. In 1979 I was asked by my old alma mater, the University of Bridgeport, to teach graphic design related courses on a part time basis. I had never thought about teaching before but my former professors thought that I would be the perfect candidate because I was an honor graduate in their graphic design program and also because I had been in the field for over 5 years. I felt this was a great opportunity and besides I had the time since I was a free lancer with no full time job commitments.


I taught for three years and really enjoyed the experience. I was teaching something I loved and of course the students really kept me on my toes. However, in 1981 another opportunity arose which demanded some serious consideration. While having lunch one day with an old colleague, Bob Verrilli, we had a serious discussion about starting a graphic design business. Actually, we had been talking about this on and off for several years, but now the time seemed right. We both had clients who we could bring into the new business. We invited a third designer, Ron Sanetti to join us. Come May 1981 Comp Design was born. By combining our talents and client bases into one cohesive unit, a strong design and business synergy was created.


Fast-forward over three decades later to the present day and Comp Design is still going strong. Of course changes have taken place over the years but we still keep our clients happy and coming back for more. I feel that embracing new technology, combined with proven design concepts and good old fashioned hard work is the key to our continued success.

(203) 334-3011

900 Madison Avenue, Suite 207

Bridgeport, CT 06606