What are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work? The speed at which social media moves our society absolutely fascinates me. However, I have a love/hate relationship with it. The instant gratification of high speed internet paired with sites like Facebook and Twitter have decreased attention spans and greatly increased the demand for short, succinct burst of information. This greatly affects my work as a designer and content producer. Sometimes I feel as if I have to base my work on the fact that most of my audience won’t look at it for longer than the half second it takes to like and scroll passed a Facebook post. I like that it forces me to think more critically about the way I present information through graphics and video. It also frustrates me because I tend to gravitate toward more detailed design & I ADORE small type, which isn’t suitable for most digital platforms. I try to “make up” for this in my personal and freelance work.
“One of my favorite stages of design is the pre-creative. This is where all of the research, planning and brainstorming takes place. I believe, like Beall, that a design problem is best solved only after you have done thorough research and planning.”
Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking about design? Lester Beall. Old school, I know! But every since studying him in Graphic Design History at Auburn, I have fallen in love with his philosophy that design isn’t just one thing — it’s interdisciplinary and can be inspired by all facets of life. His wife once stated that “...anyone interested in design must necessarily be interested in other fields of expression – the theater, ballet, photography, painting, literature, as well as music, for from any of these the alert designer can at times obtain not only ideas related to his advertising problem, but genuine inspiration.”
Beall’s design process, which included what he called the pre-creative, creative and post-creative, has also had a large impact on the way I think about design. One of my favorite stages of design is the pre-creative. This is where all of the research, planning and brainstorming takes place. I believe, like Beall, that a design problem is best solved only after you have done thorough research and planning.
In your opinion is it (or has it been) more difficult for women to become “successful” in the design field? Expand upon the things that you perceive to be the biggest challenges if possible. I don’t really have much personal experience with this matter. Compass Media has been my first job in the design field other than freelance. The aspects of design that I find myself gravitating toward (events, magazine and decor) seem to be dominated by women.
Do you think there is a difference between working in design with women or with men? Have you ever been treated differently because you are a woman? I don’t think I’m treated differently at my job because I am a woman. There are 2 designers (myself and another Auburn classmate :)) at my current job & work is usually delegated according to whomever has the time to do it. If there is a difference in treatment as far as information shared and inclusion in meetings, etc it’s usually due to our title differences (art director vs. graphic artist) or whomever has been assigned to that project.
You are a designer with Compass Media, Inc. and your own freelance design firm, correct? What is the most interesting or perhaps rewarding part of your work? Are there any specific projects you are extremely proud of and would like to share? By far, the most rewarding thing for me is the look on a client’s face when they see the final product. There’s nothing more beautiful than hearing “this is perfect” or “it’s exactly what I envisioned.” It really warms the soul.
At Compass Media, we specialize in travel and tourism marketing and have inserts in major magazines. I must admit I was totally geeked when I saw my work in magazines like Parents, Better Homes and Gardens, Everyday with Rachel Ray and Martha Stewart Living for the first time!
“Mess ups happen. Learn from it. Move on.”
What project or design problem have you faced (in the past or recently) that seemed to be a “failure” but turned out to be an extremely valuable experience? My senior project. (You weren’t expecting that one were you?) My senior project semester was THE roughest semester I had at Auburn. I started the semester with pure joy and excitement about creating and branding my own company that specialized in music education. That all came crashing down when I’d gotten news that my grandmother was in bad health just 2 weeks into the semester. I got permission from my professors to leave school and be with my family. She died the last week of August and my world came crashing down. I didn’t know how I could go on with my project, not to mention that in school, I was a huge procrastinator. I was already slightly behind on my project, paired with a fresh case of depression. I had the roughest time trying to get back on track after coming back to school. But I learned SO much that semester:
1) Set a schedule and stick to it. Of course life happens and you won’t be able to stick to everything on your schedule to the very minute, but at least make a plan that includes a list of short and long term goals to complete throughout your projects (and life, ha!). I’ve found out that daily to-do lists are my best friends.
2) Don’t bite off more that you can chew. I took a huge bite of well-done steak that semester and I had nothing to wash it down with, so I choked. Okay, that was a bit dramatic…but really. I proposed way too many pieces for my senior project and it is something that I regret to this day. Yes, I can sing and make music in Garageband to accompany the commercial I built in Flash. And yes, 4 different package designs would’ve been completely ideal for the products I created to sell on the website I designed along with the book and posters I created. But because I proposed SO much paired with the stress of family issues and my other classes, I was overwhelmed and didn’t get to focus on each piece like I thought I would. So the old adage is true — QUALITY over quantity. Of course, my awesome procrastination skills didn’t help very much…
3) Mess ups happen. Learn from it. Move on. This is actually something that I’ve only come to realize more recently. I allowed the “failure” (I’m a perfectionist, so I use this term way more than I should. I actually made an okay grade on my project.) of my senior project to haunt me for way longer than it should have. Unfortunately, I allowed it to affect the way I viewed myself as a designer and questioned if this was even something that I wanted to do anymore. After some intense soul searching, I finally realized that I had to get over this “failure” and leave it all in the past. I had to get back to my passion and doing what I love. It has undoubtedly been one of the biggest life lessons I’ve encountered so far.
While you were in school at Auburn, do you remember a specific design project that challenged you the most? Other than my senior project, I think the most challenging project was designing my self-identity in Design II. Because I was interested in so many types of design, it was hard for me to decide what type of logomark and color schemes I wanted to represent myself as brand.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were in school? Professors are regular people. There’s no reason to be afraid of them. Always ask questions. Sign up for their office hours to chat and pick their brains about the design world. Chances are, they’ve experienced way more than you have as far as design goes. I know we’ve all heard it before, but there really is no such thing as a stupid question. Professors are there to help and guide you. Be a sponge! Soak up all you can, while you can.
Would you recommend some resources that young designers might find useful (books, websites, podcasts, etc.)? (1) Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines — As a freelancer, this book saved my life! Highly recommend it for anyone getting their feet wet for the first time. (2) For a pick-me-up and great design advice: goodfuckingdesignadvice.com. (3) For when I think I’m a web designer: tympanus.net/codrops & pinterest (duh).
“Go after every opportunity confidently, knowing that you have the skill and talent to get the job done (and if not, you’re willing to learn).”
What should young designers avoid doing when applying for positions in the field? Doubt.There are a lot of amazing designers in the world and tons of amazing firms. Don’t ever get bogged down with the mindset of thinking you aren’t good enough to apply for certain jobs. Go for it. Go after every opportunity confidently, knowing that you have the skill and talent to get the job done (and if not, you’re willing to learn).
Avoid having unnecessary projects in your portfolio while interviewing: (1) If possible, show real world examples. (2) Try to showcase work that is relevant to the company you’re applying for. (3) Select only your best projects — typically your first project from Production Processes won’t cut it.
Add any additional thoughts if you feel they need to be shared. Don’t be ashamed to self-promote! When freelancing: never design without a contract. never design without a contract. never design without a contract. never design without a contract. never design without a contract. never design without a contract. never design without a contract. never design without a contract.
Designer responded to questions in 2016 via email.