Patricia Zapata

graphic designer
Location: Kingwood, Texas

All images are copyrighted and strictly for educational and viewing purposes.



How did you become a designer/artist?

I remember always enjoying art. As a child I was always coloring, drawing and creating “masterpieces”. I never really thought it was possible to make a living with art so I considered it more of a hobby. Originally, I was going to be a pediatrician. I actually did get a biology degree AFTER my design degree (long story) but I found that design was my true calling. I credit my high school art teacher for pointing me in the direction of graphic design as a career.

Where are you from originally?

I’m originally from Teaneck, NJ, but I haven’t been there since I was ten. We left when my parents decided that we needed to move for a few years to their native country. We moved to Houston when I started college and I’ve been in Texas ever since. I’m a Texan at heart now.

Who were your main influences growing up?

Definitely my parents. They are from Colombia and they first came to the US as a newly married couple. They didn’t have it easy but somehow they always made sure my brothers and I had the best they could offer. A life with the arts was always high on my parents’ priority list even though neither is an artist. Living close to NYC was great because we were exposed to a lot as kids. One of the things that I remember the most is that, at age 10, on New Year’s Eve my parents took us to a symphony concert at Lincoln Center. We were probably the only kids there! It was fun when the waitresses came out on stage to give the orchestra champagne to celebrate at midnight.

Did you go to art school/college for design or are you self-taught?

I have a BA in graphic communications from the University of Houston and a BA in biology from St. Mary’s University. Two degrees with a long story in between that I won’t bore you with!

Any advice or tips to novice designers?

Don’t work independently right out of school. Find a job first. I think that my best education came from my first design-related job. I would also recommend paying attention to, and learning from, the “boring” stuff of how a design business runs on a day-to-day basis.

What has been the most rewarding and challenging project you have worked on?

I would have to say a commemorative book that I designed for a company celebrating its 50th anniversary. It was the biggest challenge I’ve faced so far. It was also rewarding because I think we hit the mark with the design and concept. The project was a challenge for me because I had never designed a book before and because our writer backed out as the deadline was looming. I think that other than college, those were the longest days and nights that I’ve ever spent on any project. The day I handed the files to the printer I was in heaven!

What is your favorite design piece? Why?

My favorite piece is a logo that I designed pro-bono for a local children’s community science park. The park was planned and built by parents and others in the community. One day, I happened to come across an online article about the project and I saw what they were using as a logo. The organizers were really making very conscientious decisions about how the park should be built, what materials were to be used, etc., but no-one had really thought about how they were presenting themselves to the community. I contacted them and in a matter of days they had a new logo. I love seeing it in use now and I was really lucky that they were so open to the input I offered. To top it all off, the logo was accepted to be part of the Logo Lounge III book that will come out in 2007.

What are you doing now?

I am an independent designer working from my home studio. Most of my clients are out-of-state, small to mid-sized companies in need of a logo and collateral materials.

What are your plans for the future?

My plan is to continue to develop my business and just keep learning. I want to continue to grow as a designer and in particular I’d like to further develop my illustration skills. I’m also gearing up for the launch of a new greeting card business in the fall and I have other product development ideas that I’d like to see come to fruition.

What American artist inspires you most?

That’s really such a hard question to answer. There are many artists past and present that inspire me. Presently I’m really interested in work by people like S. Britt, Holli Conger, Steven Harrington, and Johnny Yanok, since I’m really trying to sharpen my illustration skills.

What unlocks your creativity?

It’s really a combination of things. I love looking at what others are working on by going through books and visiting museums and Web sites. At other times I prefer to stay away from all that so that I can forge my own way. Those are the times when the most mundane everyday things influence my thoughts (people watching, exercising, nature). I would have to say that my two children are also a big part of the process. Their unexpected comments and ways of viewing their world always surprise me.