CREATIVE MARKETING PROFESSIONAL / ART DIRECTOR / DESIGNER
BFA, Visual Communication,1996
What are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work? I’ve been fascinated by (and addicted to) Instagram for the last several years. I get most of my creative inspiration from looking at visuals posted by artists and designers of all mediums. Whether photographs, paintings, illustrations, interior design; I get a constant flow of color and composition inspiration from browsing my Instagram feed. Social media in general is fascinating, how it has taken over the world and become such a part of our daily lives. Since I identify as being a visual person, I discovered early on that Instagram was the social outlet perfectly suited to me over any other. Twitter was just too overwhelming and wordy for me from the start. Give me Instagram or Pinterest and I’ll build on the visual library in my mind for hours.
Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking? Learning about personality differences in people and how to navigate those differences has had a huge influence on how I think, work and live.
What project or design problem have you faced (in the past or recently) that seemed to be a “failure“ but was perhaps an extremely valuable learning experience? I worked on an experiential campaign for HGTV when we partnered with Paste Magazine and sponsored bands at SXSW in 2013. It was an amazing project and I learned pretty on-the-fly how to design for a major event attended by thousands of people. I think overall, the HGTV presence at SXSW was well received. There was one aspect of the project though that did not quite hit the mark and looking back I should have been more vocal about what I wanted. We had several wifi hot spot benches set up in various venues. The idea was to extend the creative across all elements but the benches just did not turn out well at all. You can see photos on my portfolio site.
The benches were painted ahead of time by someone who really couldn’t fulfill the vision I had and after the fact, I wished I had volunteered to travel prior to the start of the event in order to fully oversee the painting of the benches or even paint them myself. I learned then to really stay on top of projects by thoroughly and frequently communicating with vendors (especially when not in the same state) and asking for proof of what was being promised. I arrived in Austin too late to make desired changes to the benches and it was disappointing to me, and to my managers, that the benches were not as polished as they could (and should) have been.
“Learning about personality differences in people and how to navigate those differences has had a huge influence on how I think, work and live.”
While you were in school at Auburn, do you remember a specific graphic design project that challenged you the most? The project that challenged me the most would have to be my senior project at the end of my time as a graphic design student at Auburn. There were so many parts and pieces to manage and make sure that everything was cohesive and finished on time. It was challenging, stressful, rewarding and fulfilling all at the same time.
How would you define success? Do you think you’ve found it yet? If you can be proud of the work you create, that is success. And yes, I feel I’ve had a successful career as a graphic designer so far and I’m excited to see where this next chapter leads me.
You have worked on some big marketing and promotional campaigns for some well-known cable networks and have an impressive range of skills from branding to film and video. Do you see many women entering into the video/motion side of the design field? In my experience over the years, I have found that more men find their way into video and motion design than women. Alternately, I think there are many more female designers who end up in web and print design.
I’m not sure I can clearly put into words on why I have found that to be true but it’s the way I see the industry as a whole. I’ve always been outnumbered by men (designers) on the broadcast marketing teams I worked on who were much better animators than I have ever been. I’m much more comfortable designing and coming up with concepts than I am with 2D & 3D animation. I have really good instincts for motion design but to sit down in front of After Effects and figure out plugins, etc. it’s a little too much like math to me. And I have always been HORRIBLE at math! Motion design is very technical and it may be that men are just more inclined to geek out on figuring out building effects than women. That is not to say that I’m not technically minded but I lack the focus/desire/drive to tinker for hours on a motion design project. While working in the CNN On-Air Promotion & Marketing department, I was able to collaborate with some pretty amazing and talented video editors. The two men in particular that I’m speaking of were not only good video editors but they both had such a good understanding of design and motion and I had a great working relationship with each of them. I found that I enjoyed focusing on design specifics – typography, color, composition, photography and then working closely with a talented editor to get the motion design to the next level. I really love collaborating with people. I feel like my work has always been better when I’ve shared a vision with someone and had a lot of fun working together to reach the same end goal.
Have you ever worked on a project that involved using some dynamic tools like apps to connect print advertising to video? One project I worked on at HGTV, the campaign to promote season 2 of Brother vs. Brother, came close to utilizing an augmented reality app to bring the key art to life but we were unable to make it work within the project budget. We hired an agency in LA called BPG to assist us in shooting and building the key art for all seasons of Brother vs. Brother. As I was working closely with the team at BPG during the shoots for season 2, they shared a job they had recently completed for the History channel. The below link to their website (scroll down to view BPG’s Vikings Ultimate Reality project) shows the way in which they brought the Vikings show talent photography to life using UR. Of any HGTV programming, Brother vs. Brother offered the most dynamic creative that would have seamlessly paired with this new technology. Ultimately our budget was eaten in part by shooting multiple video set-ups and still photography in a warehouse in Los Angeles but then also by finishing out the key art for print and digital and the video post production for on-air promos. Because the show was a huge marketing priority, and starred the Scott twins, who are two of the biggest stars on HGTV, we had a large budget to promote the show, (a larger budget than most HGTV programming) but there were simply no funds left over to try this big, new idea unfortunately. It would have been so perfect and fun would we have been able to make it work (Example 01, Example 02).
Do you believe that it is harder for women to become successful in certain aspects of the design field? This very question is one that I have asked myself many times over the span of my career. In my experience, it has been more difficult for me to move up into director level positions than it has been for my male peers. It has been incredibly frustrating personally and was one of the reasons that led me to resign from my most recent salaried position at Scripps Networks Interactive. It felt as though I had to successfully complete (and be recognized for) 8 tasks compared to the one task handled by my male counterpart. It seemed to me to be an uneven playing field. One theory I have and something that I observed first hand is the men I worked with would talk openly (brag even) about an accomplishment of some kind. I’ve never been one to talk about myself or my accomplishments and maybe I have wrongly thought that my manager would recognize and acknowledge my contributions without my having to ‘toot my own horn’.
Is there a difference between working in design with women or with men? Have you ever been treated differently because you are female? I don’t think there is necessarily a difference working alongside male and female designers. However, I do feel like I have been treated differently because I am female.
Are there any rules or habits that help you design more efficiently? Generally if I’m feeling creatively blocked, I step away from my work to take a walk outside. I take a break for at least 30 minutes and I find that if I do something active, get some air, I can return to the project with a fresh perspective.
Another good thing to do is to share your work with a colleague. Ask for feedback. You may find one simple comment they make could help you to see the task at hand in a new light and/or offer up an idea that might take your design to the next level. Never work in a silo.
Would you recommend some resources that young designers might find useful? (1) If you’re interested in the television world, subscribe to Cynopsis E-newsletters. Some very useful news and information about the TV industry and a great job board resource as well (however, not a well designed website by any means). (2) A podcast that inspires me regularly is Art For Your Ear, artist interviews conducted by Jealous Curator blog founder, Danielle — www.thejealouscurator.libsyn.com/podcast (3) Color palette inspiration — www.colourlovers.com
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were in school? Conveying confidence is key. In my younger years, I would have worked harder on improving my public speaking skills in order to better get across my creative concepts and ideas. It’s important to come across as a designer who is confident (and believes in your concepts) when presenting those ideas to clients. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.
“It’s very important to do as much freelance or as many side projects as you can in order to find out what you like doing every day, what kinds of design projects you actually enjoy working on.”
What should a young designer avoid doing when applying for jobs in the design field? Avoid applying for every position out there, positions that do not ultimately fit what you see yourself doing every day. It’s very important to do as much freelance or as many side projects as you can in order to find out what you like doing every day, what kinds of design projects you actually enjoy working on. Hone in on the things you enjoy doing the most and make connections with people who are doing the things you want to do. Get to know those people and ask them questions about what led them on their career path.
Additional thoughts: (1) Networking and making meaningful connections with people is the most important thing you can do to find work and this applies to any field, creative or otherwise.(2) Every job I ever got was because I was recommended by a friend or former colleague for a particular position. Keep up with people, companies and jobs via social media sites like LinkedIn. (3) If you help someone make a new connection, they will be more likely to return the favor. (4) Simply put — BE NICE. Do not burn bridges. Do not cut others down. BE PROFESSIONAL. You never know who one day may be in a position to hire you and/or recommend you for a position you might be interested in. (5) Research, research, research the companies and people with whom you are interviewing.
Designer responded to questions in 2016 via email.