Craig Evans, 29

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Craig Evans is ready to talk the language of "branding dialogue."

The aspiring art director, who graduates next month from the Portfolio Center in Atlanta, says, "We've totally moved away from this print-centric environment to almost a Wild West kind where almost anything is game now."

But that's OK. "If it's a great concept and a big idea ... it ought to be able to exist in any medium outside of the page," he says, adding that it's "more interesting when you have that idea that I can show you on a printed page but can also show you on packaging. That's the whole branding dialogue."

Big ideas are important, but Mr. Evans, 29, also stresses the role of principles of design to communicate in a world of diverse consumers and diverging media. "Consumers really resonate emotionally with design," says Mr. Evans, who has an undergraduate degree in art history.

Portfolio Center President Hank Richardson says today's agency creatives must be "strategic thinkers as well as well-armed craftsmen. Today's art director is a different art director from 30 years ago."

"The return to the big idea is a great opportunity for young creative people in particular," Mr. Richardson says. He adds that "now we can be truly innovative [and face] the challenge of creative advertising that is less intrusive and more participatory, which is going to be great."

Great, but maybe also a little scary. "It's really fun, but it can also be scary at the same time ... and I don't even know what our job would be like in 10 years," Mr. Evans says. "It's almost impossible to tell."