Interview with Jeanee Wallace
Experienced Art Director and Senior Graphic Designer with demonstrated history of working in the health wellness and literary industry. Skilled in Art Direction, Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator, and Social Media. Strong arts and design professional with a master's degree focused in Graphic Design from Portfolio Center. Wallace likes to maximize graphic & visual design, trend research, social media communication and leadership experience to create strategies to develop and expand company's existing customer sales, brand/product evolution, and media endorsement.
Hello Jeanee! Could you take us through the development of DeliverLean, where you have worked as Senior Graphic Designer for the last four years?
OK I've been a graphic designer at DeliverLean which is a food meal delivery service for about four years. It's a very small company so I'm the only graphic designer there. I've worked a little bit with the designer that did the branding but on the day to day work, things that I have to do is just me and it's really built my portfolio and gotten to do a lot of different things. Kind of reminds me when I went back to school at Portfolio Center and had so many different projects to work on. When you work for a bigger company like Borders or Hallmark cards where I work you have many designers doing kind of the same things. So when you're the only designer you don't have a person that just works on e-mail, a person that works on product packaging, a person that works on product events, you know when you have conventions you need to have a retractable and tablecloths and t-shirts, marketing materials. It's just me! The one person doing all those things, doing postcards to go in the mail, social media graphics, sometimes I've had to do food photography. So it's really given me the chance to kind of put my whole foot into a different aspects of design. So I'm really grateful to work for a smaller company and bigger company to kind of learn with the differences and really hone in my skill.
What was it like designing Hallmark Cards? How did that experience influence your career?
I was a graphic designer for Hallmark cards from 2005 to 2012 and it was a wonderful experience to design greeting cards. One of the most exciting things was to go into a Hallmark store, a CBS and actually see your cards there. So I was on the Valentine's Day team designing Valentine's cards and I was on the Licensing team so I would design for Disney Movies and Hallmark has their own photo studio so sometimes some of the employees would be models, so I got to be on cards also! So it was really fun to grow professionally to really hone in my design skills. They have a place in the building called the Creative You where you can learn more design programs or you can learn how to be a better worker. They have a library that you can get any creative book that you would want out of. I also got to grow personally, really found that I was good at spotting trends and applying them to my greeting cards. I ended up teaching in a class there to my peers and I ended up teaching that here in Miami at the Miami Ad School. So it was one of the best professional experiences that I ever had. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. So if you are a graphic designer professional experience really will help you be a better designer.
What are the most fascinating aspects of your work? What are the challenges?
Ok, the most fascinating aspects of being designer is of course creating something from nothing and getting it printed, getting it published- it's out in the public and your work is there. Of course working at Hallmark and seeing my cars in the store is like Oh my God I did that or driving by seeing a billboard or a veal caret that I made and it's like it's not in the computer anymore is actually physically out in the world. That's very satisfying. It's also great when I work with a freelance client and they're starting their business or they have a product and they just don't know how to make it come alive. And you do that for them and they're so happy. Some of the challenges are deciding what kind of designer you want to be. Do you want to be a graphic artist or are you just creating art? Do you want to be a professional graphic designer and work for a company or do you want to be a freelance designer and just freelance for other people finding your own work? Do you want to be an illustrator at hand lettering artists? Do you want to specialize in photo editing? Animation? Web design? Web coding UX design? There's so many things that you can do as a graphic designer. I think it's good to be aware of all of these different disciplines but I think it's good to have your own niche and you know it is challenging when you are a designer rather than an artist because you're going to get feedback from the company that you work for from the client. And sometimes you know they're not always going to like your design so you need to be able to take that, not every project is your baby, and be able to make something that's great for them but it's always awesome when that happens.
How did you get into graphic design after studying Journalism?
OK how did I get into design after studying journalism, well I went to Michigan State to become a broadcast journalist and high school I was a band geek and a cheerleader and I figured those weren't two ways to make a living. And my aunt went to Michigan State and she was a broadcast journalist and she was doing well and I really liked English so I thought that would be a good choice. You could choose also photojournalism which I was interested in photography and publication design. So one summer I took an elective, magazine article design and that's why I learned Photoshop and Illustrator and I really liked it and learning the principles of graphic design. So I graduated with a B.A. in journalism with the emphasis and publication design but I ended up going the Internet route. It was late 90s so my first job I learned how to code and I was designing at the same time, I worked there for a couple of years and then I went to Borders Books and worked there for three years and I got laid off so I decided to go back to school officially for graphic design at Portfolio Center in Atlanta. A two year design program and really, really honed in my skills and learned all of the elements and principles of graphic design. And honestly I wish in high school that I would have known that this was a career because I probably would have spent more time drawing, learning those types of skills. I do love that the computer can help and aid you but having that hand skill does help also. So you know there's always time to still learn and grow and you know to make yourself better.
What is some advice for someone starting out as a graphic designer?
My advice for young designers is to go to school and get some professional training. There are a lot of online classes that you can take to learn how to use Photoshop, Illustrator and other design tools. But if you want to be a professional graphic designer you should go to school. When you start working with clients, you need to know how to satisfy them and give them a creative beautiful design. It's really easy to be a graphic designer and make pretty things and just make them at whim, ideas that you have in your mind. That's art. To be a graphic designer and to work for a business, a company, a client that has a business you want to be sure that you design things that are going to work in the real world. When you're doing a creative project for fun you can make bottle packaging and make it beautiful. But in the real world there's fine print that needs to go on there. Bar codes, things that's going to kind of disrupt your original idea. So when you go to school and you learn graphic design you'll be able to overcome those things and give a professional beautiful design.