N.C. Agriculture: A Work of Art

by | May 4, 2022

We Are Agriculture is a year-long series that will highlight the hard-work done by employees across the Department of Agriculture. Chris Goodwin, Graphic Designer with our Art Department, is one of those employees. Stay tuned each Wednesday here on the blog or any of our social media accounts and join us in honoring those who continue to drive our state’s agriculture industry forward each day!

Graphic design is often not a field associated with the world of agriculture, but Chris Goodwin, Graphic Designer with our Art Department, would beg to differ.

Growing up in Knightdale, Chris was involved with agriculture at a young age but didn’t quite see it as the field for him until he graduated from college. “As a kid, I often helped my parents in our home garden or my aunt and uncle on their large-scale farming operation near Roanoke Rapids, so I was aware of agriculture and the lifestyle that could be pursed in this industry,” he said, “but it wasn’t until I graduated from Johnston Community College with a degree in graphic design that I ever thought I would establish my professional career within agriculture.” In 1998, right after graduation, Chris started his job with the NCDA&CS Art Department and has never looked back.

When Chris first started with us 24 years ago, graphic design was housed under a different name and slowly grew to become the art department we know and love today. “Starting out, I did more reporting and catalog work than I do now,” Chris said. “I still work on a variety of publications for various divisions across the department, but back then I wasn’t allowed to do any of the major jobs, such as cover art, because I was just getting my feet wet.” From printing images and other projects off of one 36 -inch-wide printer to now having four printers that function in a variety of ways, the industry itself has changed and evolved through the years, making his job more efficient and creative.

“I remember when we only had one printer in this office. Every image we printed off had to be left over night to dry and then we had to laminate it and put an adhesive on it if it was to function as a sticker,” Chris said. “Today, our four printers work in all different sizes and with a variety of material that’s much faster and more productive than anything we have ever used before.” Technology is playing a big role across the industry and Chris is thankful for the advancements it has made to his position alone. “If you would have told me 20 years ago that I would be printing graphic projects off the equipment that we are using today, I never would have believed you,” he said, “but I am thankful for these advancements that have made some of our large-scale projects possible each year, like the N.C. State Fair.”

Chris and the graphic design team are working almost year-round on the N.C. State Fair, which is their biggest event each year. Not only do they create the annual logo, but also all the signage and some of the digital marketing materials that are used. In fact, some of the moments Chris is most proud of in his career stem from projects he worked on for the N.C. State Fair. “Last year I had the opportunity to work on two new projects for the fair that I felt very proud of once they were displayed and that was the Got To Be N.C. display windows in Dorton Arena and the Public House graphics,” he said. “Marketing came up with the design of what they wanted for the Got To Be N.C. Pavilion and we made it happen. It took two days for us to get it all hung up, but once it was done, we were all very proud of the final product and we are proud that it will now hang year-round in that facility.”

One of the projects Chris is most well-known for, however, goes by the name of Casey Cardinal, the N.C. State Fair mascot. “I technically am the one to blame for reinventing Casey,” he joked. “Casey was used many years ago in a few things for the fair but one day I took it upon myself to design and re-establish him. I presented it in a few things to the fair team and they fell in love with him.” Today, Casey is the face of the N.C. State Fair and is known and loved by both children and adults alike. “It’s really cool to see how far Casey has come and to know that I had a hand in designing him,” Chris said. “In fact, I was recently at a Carolina Hurricanes hockey game where Casey showed up for kids night, and each time something like that happens, and I get to see the joy he creates for families, it makes my job worth it.”

In addition to the N.C. State Fair, Chris can be found working on a variety of projects throughout the year with many of our divisions within the NCDA&CS. “Usually I am in the print shop designing graphics, printing signs and setting them up,” Chris said. “Right now, I am working with the research stations to develop marketing materials for them as well as a few other projects for our staff.” Chris and the graphic design team were also responsible for the banner display at the recent opening of our new Steve Troxler Agricultural Sciences Center. This banner was 50 feet long and, again, a huge source of pride to see on display for the entire team in the graphics department.

Although he loves many aspects of his job at the department, Chris enjoys the challenge that his job often presents. “I love a good challenge and I need one every now and then to keep me entertained,” he said, “but lucky for me, I get a lot of those in my position, and it helps me grow in my career and skill set as an artist.”

When he is not working, you can find Chris spending time with his wife, Laura, who works for our Plant Industry division, either working in the yard, watching movies or cheering on his Carolina Hurricanes. Join us in thanking Chris for all his hard work and be sure to keep an eye out for all of his amazing projects this year at the N.C. State Fair!