Interview with Meg Johnson
I strive to create an experience that is truly unique, logical, and genuinely connects the audience experiencing it. The challenges of video production continuously inspire me and push me to share a piece of myself in my work. Learn more at redheadmeg.com
Hi Meg! How did you get into graphic design?
I first got interested in art and design all the way back in high school. I was really lucky that we had a really awesome video program and photography program. So being able to make art in a digital space was super interesting to me, as well as doing drawing and painting and sketching and all of that. And I really just loved using multiple mediums and using technology made that really easy, to be able to scan in drawings or sketches or things like that. When I got accepted into art school - I went to Mass Art for my freshman year - I was taking a bunch of different classes and all different sorts of mediums, and when I found out that with graphic design you can kind of utilize a bunch of different materials and mediums and processes, I was immediately super interested. I've always loved software/technology, so the capability to go into a UX design role or something like that was also really appealing to me. So I guess it kind of always goes back to being introduced to art back in high school, but I think Mass Art was where I officially decided that graphic design was for me.
What are your preferred tools? What do you draw with? Brainstorm on? Design with?
My preferred tools are pretty much anything with an undo button. I really love trying a million different things and making subtle changes until something really sticks out to me. And it's really tough to do with traditional mediums like painting, drawing, or sculpting, something like that. What I do love is that back in high school, when I learned photoshop that was when I first understood that I could make something in the physical world and then bring it into a digital space and totally alter what that is. So between doing photoshop and high school, and then becoming fluent in the Adobe Creative Suite all throughout college, I just found that on a day-to-day basis, my favorite thing to do is to - like I said - bring something in the physical world into a digital space and then make it look and feel how I want. It's really empowering and, since I said, I'm really into technology, being tech savvy - I love kind of just playing around with things and doing something, undoing it and just trying a billion things until it works out. As for brainstorming, I actually usually brainstorm in pen, like on paper. I find that using pencil usually makes me more hesitant to really mark the page, and a lot of time and I'm just erasing everything; whereas once you do it a pen it's there - it's on paper no matter what. Whether it's a good idea or a bad idea, it's there and it's a part of your process. And what I've really found is that those little moments or little failures are what really lead you to the more elevated approach. So even if something doesn't feel totally right or it's not the complete solution, I think that those are all the stepping stones on getting there.
What is your role as Privy? How do you like working as the sole designer?
My role at Privy is on the marketing team as a designer and videographer. So I'm pretty much touching anything from emails to video content, to podcasts, branding, web design, social media, any sort of visual design, I have a hand in it. And for the first year and a half, I was the sole designer at Privy, and we were probably eight people in a WeWork building and all in one room and now, two years later, here we are - almost 60 people, including a really awesome new product designer. So although I'm not the only designer anymore, and it's really great to have another designer around, I can't help but be very grateful for the experience I had - that let me grow so much in the past two years.
Take us through a past project to explain your design strategy and aesthetic.
One of my favorite projects was a box set of vinyls and a booklet that was for Run DMC. I've always been super inspired by this band and I really wanted to encompass the journey that they had been through - inspiration, success and loss - because I feel like these are three emotions that any artists have to deal with when finding their true identity, and I really connected to that. So the way that I wanted to further connect with them and their music is that, when I listen to their music, I can't help but feel physically moved - like I'm bopping my head, I'm jammin to the beats, like I physically need to move my body when I'm listening to music. So I wanted that to be portrayed in the imagery itself. The way I did that was I did a lot collaging, and I actually took texts from the different albums and printed it out, and put it on a scanner, and then scratched it - moved it along to the different beats to make that kind of groovy looking typography. This was really fun and a really challenging project, and I think the main source of inspiration was that them being the first African-American group on MTV, I felt that they were inspiring other artists of color - like myself - to really share their voice and their passion for the arts. And their approach of rap really evokes this innovative creativity and passion that I really feel is inspiring to all of my work. Check out the rest of the project at redheadmeg.com.
What are you working on now? Where can we see your design work next?
I'm actually working on a ton of different stuff right now. So for Privy, we're actually in the middle of a total visual rebrand, so a new look, new feel, new everything, so that's been super exciting and really fun. And we're also working on a podcast that I'm producing that will drop later this fall, and if you're interested definitely check out @privy on Instagram or YouTube or basically any other social channel. Other than that, other than my day job, I've been doing various photography, illustrations, video projects, all that are kind of half-baked ideas or halfway done and they're all coming to fruition probably later this summer. So you could totally check that out at redheadmeg.com or my Instagram @redhead_meg_. And the last thing I'd like to add is that I've been working on this app called PlantPal for about two or three years now - it's an IOS application that looks to match you with your perfect plant and then help you take care of it. So it'll send you reminders on when to water it and it will give you information on what type of soil and what light you should use, and it's a really, really fun project that I've been working on with a developer for, just in our spare time, for fun since college. And it's really just come so far so I’d love it if you guys check it out, and we're really just improving it more every day. Although it's only on IOS, we're also working on Android version so stay tuned. You can also learn more at getgrowing.today. So thanks and check it out!