Master of his craft

Cheers to Dustin Kilburg on his recent promotion!

Since joining McCullough Creative, production guru Dustin Kilburg has refined his craft and expanded his repertoire. His growth-oriented mindset is largely what led to his recent promotion to the role of Graphics Lead/Fabricator. Dustin sat down to chat with creative copywriter Jeff Montgomery about the new role, the benefits of collaboration, and the endless quest to create the perfect product.


Jeff: First things first: Congratulations on the promotion, Dustin. It has to be an exciting moment for you. Can you start by telling me a bit about your new role?


Dustin: Thank you. Yeah, my new title with McCullough Creative will be Graphics Lead/Fabricator. With that role, I’ll be taking on a bit more responsibility in a number of different areas. I will be taking the lead on everything in the graphics department, which means I will be in charge of all the machines we utilize and take on a bigger role in all the projects they’re used for. On top of that, I will be working more directly with clients, and I will be more involved with getting pricing from vendors and preparing quotes.


When did you start at McCullough? And what intrigued you about the job?


Well, my first exposure to McCullough Creative came through a student tour, back when I was attending Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. After school, I worked somewhere else for a little while but always remembered McCullough and wanted to work here one day. I eventually got a job here and started as a production artist back in February of 2018. When I heard about the job, I thought that it really fit the type of work I wanted to do. I wanted to use my skills in graphic design, but I didn’t want to be sitting behind a desk all day. To me, this seemed like it was a hybrid job—where I can use what had I learned on the computer but also go and create something.


For those who might be unfamiliar with what you do, can you explain what kind of projects you are working on?


There’s a lot to the job, but if I were to sum it up, the three main things I am working on are CNC routing, direct printing, and vinyl application. And we make a variety of products for clients—everything from signage to custom-built awards and social media influencer kits.


What do you enjoy about that type of work?


It’s exciting seeing all the different projects coming through and learning how to make them come to life. Each of these projects has its own unique features and its own unique challenges to figure out, whether it’s how ink is layered or how something needs to be cut out and assembled. Many details go into determining the best process for any given project and its constraints.


There’s such a team-focused element here at McCullough. How important is collaboration?


It’s such a core part of the job. First of all, I work very closely with the designers. I will see what they have on-screen and ask them, “How do you picture this coming to life?” There is a great dialogue back and forth about what materials should be used, how they’re cut, how things should be printed, and how it’s assembled. I love working with the fabrication guys, too. There are often times when they’ve built something and I put the finishing touches on it—whether it’s wrapping it in vinyl, touching up the paint, or cleaning up the product.


Something unique about McCullough Creative is we handle everything from start to finish—from design, to build, to installing the products. What is it like to go on those installs?


The best part about that is you get to see the client’s reaction. When you unpackage that product, and they see it for the first time, there is usually a ton of excitement, which is so cool to see. Looking at something on a piece of paper is so different than seeing it in real life in 3D. You don’t get the true feel for it until it is up and in place. That feeling is addicting. When I see a happy client, it makes me want to create something else that is perfect and gets that kind of reaction.

Sign for at-home archery shop
Sign for at-home archery shop
Stained-glass effect on acrylic
Stained-glass effect on acrylic
Made on 3D printer with rainbow filament.
Made on 3D printer with rainbow filament.

How has your work evolved since starting here at McCullough?


I’ve been very focused on refining each individual step to make things better and better. The goal in the end is to make it literally perfection—exactly how the client wants their product to look—and that requires paying attention to the smallest details. You can’t accept things being dinged or scratched, or anything like that, because I want this department and this company to stand out. I want to become a true master at what I do.


“Creative” is part of our name here, but it’s also more than that. It’s in our mission. It’s in our DNA. How has being a part of this team shaped your creative approach?


It has taught me to think outside the box. Just because things can be done one way doesn’t mean it is set in stone or the way it has to be done. There’s value to thinking about something from all different directions.