Monday, October 1, 2012

How I Became a Graphic Designer

I recently got asked this question by a reader who was checking out the portfolio section of my blog

"How did you get started in designing logos and what do you use for inspiration?"

It got me thinkin' bout where I've started to where I've become today. I have always been into art and being creative. When I was little I would always re-create the cases of all my Disney VHS tapes. My mom thought I was tracing them out, so I re-drew one right in front of her and she was all like "daaayum girl you got mad skillz" (ok, just kidding, my mom did not say that) (but I wish she did cause that would be so beast)

As a little kid I'd always ask for paints, makers and crayons instead of Barbie dolls. In high school I started to really gravitate towards photography and thought about being a photo journalist major in college. I knew I wanted to major in art in some way, but I also knew that just majoring in "fine art" would probably leave me on the streets of Manhattan living out of an old maytag refrigerator box.

One day in photo class I was messing around with our 1MB digital cameras (these cameras were so archaic they had JUST come out) and I started to take pictures of all my friends. I uploaded them to photoshop and turned my friends into magazine models. I would study the fonts on the front of sports illustrated and cosmo to try to get it juuuust right.

My photo teacher saw me doing this and said to me "Ya know, you should major in graphic design in college".

I had no clue what graphic design was. You gotta remember this was back in 2000/2001. Photoshop was super basic at the time and there were no graphic design classes being taught. When I was making those magazine covers of my friends that was all me trying to self teach myself photoshop. It was a fairly new field since old school graphic design consisted of creating screen prints, not doing art digitally on the computer.

At first I was skeptical. I was super spastic with a computer and had no experience in working with ANY graphic design program out there.

I figured this was probably the best bet for me in being able to still be creative while stil making a living.

So, I went off the college, majored in Graphic Design and totally panicked. They were teaching us all these programs I never heard of before. Teaching us how to produce files for magazines and newspapers--my head was spinning and almost switched majors.

But I stuck it through, and I am so glad I did. When you go to school for graphic design they don't teach you HOW to be creative, they teach you HOW to use the programs. It's up to you to take what you've learned with the computer program and applying your own style to it.

It took me a really long time to figure out what I was "good in". Graphic design was not like drawing on a piece of paper, your tool was a clumsy mouse and a giant white intimidating screen waiting for it to be populated with awesome shiz.

I slowly started to realize my strength was in typography art and logo design. I realized that I liked the idea of mixing illustrations with words, which is basically what designing a logo is like. I also like "marketing" and "advertising" and trying to figure out how a brand identity or a logo design can help with a shop's product.  I don't really do too hot with "layout" design (ya know, like laying out a magazine? That shiz is ROUGH! Dealing with all that text gave me heart palpitations) so I took the time to really concentrate on what I was good at and tried to perfect THAT instead of trying to be perfect in other aspects of graphic design that I knew I was not so strong in.

As far as inspiration goes, I try to keep up with all the latest trends. Graphic design is everywhere--it's not just logo designs. Think about it, graphic design is:
• Magazine Covers
• Websites
• Business Cards
• Billboards
• Wallpaper patterns/designs
• iPhone Covers
• Candy bar wrappers
• The sky mall in the back seat of your plane
• Heck, even your pajama bottoms (yeah, I see you over there sportin' 4 day old hair and in your sail boat & polka dot PJs)

So not only am I trying to keep up with the current design trends but I also try to stay current on trends in general, since someway graphic design will most likely be related to it. I also try to not get stuck in ruts and use the same color schemes (I know, I am guilty of doing this, what can I say a girl digs mustard yellow and mint green) so if I am wanting to try something different but unsure if the colors will work together I often look up existing color palettes on pinterest or design sponge.

It is ALWAYS important to stay up to date! You never want to get comfortable designing your "go-tos" because you know it works.


  1. you are so inspiring. and i will tell my future daughter, "dayummmm girl you got mad skills!" if she does something awesome.

  2. It seems like you are doing what you were really "meant" to do. Not everyone can say that, so I think it's pretty cool =).

  3. You're awesome. That's all. <3

  4. look at you working in a job that is related to your major!

    also. you are my tim gunn. super inspiring.


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