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How did you become a designer/artist?
I always enjoyed art from the time I was a small child, but I took a rather roundabout path to get where I am today. In high school I thought it would be great fun to create record album covers (yes, it was that long ago!), but as I entered college, I put artistic aspirations aside and tried out other paths.
After getting my undergraduate degree in mass communication and working in the advertising and broadcasting fields, I seriously considered a career in law – it appealed to the analytical part of me. I took the LSATs and was ready to enroll in law school at University of Baltimore, but I heard about and was intrigued by UB’s graduate program in publications design – a unique program that focuses on writing and graphic design. The more I learned about design, the more it appealed to me; it combined artistic expression with the analytical component necessary for creating effective communication. Finally, I’d discovered something to satisfy both my left and right brain!
After finishing my M.A., I worked as a publications coordinator (a one-person design/writing/photography department) for a private school and then as a designer for a book publisher. In 2000, I started my own graphic design business.
All the while, I always loved taking pictures for fun (ever since I got my first Pentax K1000 as a freshman in college), and over the years I received positive feedback from people who saw my photographs. I gradually grew more and more serious about photography, to the point where I wanted to make a career switch. About a year ago I started declining design jobs so I could concentrate more fully on photography.
Where are you from originally?
Who were your main influences growing up?
Mainly my family. My mother read with me every single day from the time I was very small, encouraged me to draw, and she loved teaching and learning, so she passed along that love of learning to me. Artistic talent runs strong in my mom’s side of the family. My dad was very analytical, great with numbers and puzzles, and was a keen observer – he loved to people-watch! My sister (ten years my senior) is an amazing artist and I’ve always admired her imagination and talent for drawing and painting. Plus my whole family has a great sense of humor, which I find to be a great inspiration!
Did you go to art school/college for design or are you self-taught?
I have an M.A. in design. As a photographer, however, I’m almost entirely self-taught.
Any advice or tips to novice designers?
– Work with people whose company you enjoy and can learn from – that kind of experience can be worth far more than a big salary from an employer who doesn’t inspire you.
– Unless you’re incredibly self-motivated, try working for someone else for a few years before going out on your own. There are a ton of things I’m glad I learned in a corporate environment before taking on clients by myself!
– Follow your heart. Yes, it’s trite, but it’s true. Work for people and companies and clients you believe in – you’ll be happier and your work will reflect it.
– Keep active with lots of interests outside of your professional world. Inspiration comes from so many unexpected places – music, nature, fine art, athletics, current events, social activities. Design doesn’t occur in a vacuum, and all of these things help inform your design sensibilities.
What has been the most rewarding and challenging project you have worked on?
Perhaps because I’m such a big reader, some of my most rewarding work has been designing books. Putting together all the components to make a completed product, and then seeing a printed, bound book as the result was tremendously satisfying for me.
Specifically, one of my pro bono projects, designing an arts journal called Link, was one of my most rewarding endeavors. There are tremendous challenges in a project that relies so heavily on the efforts of volunteers (the classic tight-budget, tight-schedule scenario), but it was very satisfying to work with such talented artists and editors and see the final product come together.
What are you doing now?
Workwise, I’m organizing more galleries for my Web site, which just went live a few months ago. I’m also working on a marketing strategy for getting my fine art photography in front of art buyers who award commissions and purchase fine art for public spaces, hotels, corporations, etc. I’m also interested in exploring licensing options for retail and merchandise.
I’m also doing work for local and national organizations and businesses – over the last few months I’ve done headshots for a local Nationwide Insurance sales office, product work for GE Healthcare and the American Pharmaceutical Association, and candids for local business events.
What are your plans for the future?
Continuing getting my work further into the fine art market, as I mentioned above, plus I’m also very interested in interior design, so I would love to collaborate with interior designers and decorators to incorporate my fine art photography into residences, offices and public spaces. I’m also interested in doing more studio photography.
What unlocks your creativity?
When I’m feeling stuck in a rut, I get inspired by:
– Planning (and taking) a trip
– Getting out in nature and going on a hike, with my camera of course!
– Playing with my dogs and taking them to the dog park
– Going to see art at museums and galleries
– Reading a good book or magazine
– Doing yoga, swimming, or getting active in some way
– A relaxing, fun dinner evening with my husband and/or friends