She talks a mile a minute about strategic planning and using personal touches to help their two-person (and one dog) agency stand out from the competition. His image compositing and 3D modeling and rendering have been featured in campaigns or on packaging for Ben & Jerry’s, Haagen-Dazs, Stonyfield, Nibmor Chocolate, Yoplait Plenty, and others. They’re impressive enough alone, but together they’re something else entirely.
Cassandra and Alex Lyon started to figure out their strength together at Columbus College of Art & Design, where they met at the end of their freshman year. Cassandra comes from a creative family; industrial design appealed to her desire to work with her hands. Alex came to CCAD specifically to study illustration with C.F. Payne, whose work he admired. They’ve been together ever since — a 10-year relationship and now a 5-year marriage. Gus, a fuzzy, nap-loving corgi, has been with them for eight of those years. (“He made college a lot more fun, and we made him a lot more lazy,” Cassandra said.)
“We immediately clicked,” Alex said. “It’s been beneficial to both of us to be the support the other needs and the push the other one needs.”
They both graduated in 2010, she with a BFA in Industrial Design and he with a BFA in Illustration, and moved to Cassandra’s hometown in upstate New York to embark on their careers. They both did stints at startups, working long hours and spending a lot of time apart. Alex eventually went freelance, teaching himself 3D modeling and rendering and steadily building a client list. Cassandra quit her job in October 2014 to run the growing business, manage clients, and attract new ones.
“We’re making up for lost time by literally spending every waking hour together,” Cassandra said. And how’s that working out?
“As a freelancer, you spend so much of your day staring at your own work,” Alex said. “I’m really thankful that I can call her and say, 'Please tell me what’s wrong with this, because I can’t even see the color red anymore.'”
Lyon Visuals was in a co-working space for a while, but they moved the agency in-house (literally) to save money for their goal of expanding services and space. Although they try to keep home and work life separate, they sometimes blend over, with goals and strategies often developed over dinner or evening conversations.
Alex’s advice for couples or duos in business: Resist rules for when work starts and stops. “You don’t know what time of day an idea is going to happen, and if the person is there to bounce that idea off, it’s just going to happen. If you go in putting boundaries on work right away, you could end up creating reasons to be upset when it’s not really that big of a deal.”
They both credit CCAD with giving them the ability to work under pressure and to take the criticism that inevitably comes with doing creative work. And they stay in touch with CCAD faculty past and present such as Stewart McKissick and Tom Kier (now running his own furniture design studio in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula).
“I had a very thick skin by the time I graduated,” Cassandra said. “It was very easy for me to deal with the criticism and time management.”
Read more in our series CCAD Means Success.
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