Persevering through a downturned economy, two job layoffs and the challenges of a startup, Joe Payne has emerged as a respected member of the creative tech community in Northwest Arkansas.
Payne now leads a nationwide design team for RevUnit, which builds digital platforms for companies such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and its suppliers. He’s described as a thought leader and design expert by his peers.
Payne’s drive and innovation emerged as young as age 11, when he began building websites on his Gateway PC using simple default programs such as Microsoft Paint and Notepad. He was one of eight students in his graduating class at Oark High School in Johnson County, and studied graphic design at Arkansas Tech University. “It felt closest to what I had in my head,” he said. “I always wanted to make things, but I haven’t always known how to express that as a career.”
Payne joined Walmart’s management training program for several years then took a management position with Old Navy, continuing to freelance in design on the side. He also worked for a Springdale print shop then helped launch print and design agency Moxy Ox with a partner. The company grew from five to 16 employees before Payne moved on to other ventures. In 2015, he joined RevUnit. Payne said he enjoys the multi-disciplinary aspect of his work. “There are many trades within the umbrella, and it’s about solving problems and being facilitators.”
Along with his former Moxy Ox partner (who also works for RevUnit), Payne created and co-hosts The Sarcast, a podcast about design, business and technology. Payne also helped found Creatives United to connect creative professionals in the NWA community. He’s also a board member for avad3, a local production company.