Whit Connolly

Ennis, MT

What made you want to become a graphic designer?

“I started doing graphic design in the summers for a screen printing shop-- I got a marketing job after I graduated the first time-- but they wouldn't hire me as a designer because I didn't have a degree in the field. But I didn't have a marketing degree, either-- I went to school for metalsmithing.”

What are your favorite aspects of being a designer?

“I guess I used to hand-make things a lot, and it wasn’t as clean and you could only get one-offs. With design, it’s nice to be able to build it, put it in the computer, and replicate an idea. I don’t really like the technology aspect, but it’s just the only way to make something custom and multiply it. Before school, I knew I was super anal and detail-orientated, but I never knew how to use it as a strength. When I got into graphic design I was like, ‘Oh, now I know where I belong.’”

Do you think school has helped prepare you for entering the real world?

“I’m lucky that I already went through school and was able to take a year off and realize what it takes. I feel like coming back, I appreciate it a lot more and realize what I need to take out of it, and what I don’t; I feel like I have somewhat of an advantage.”

How would you describe your process when working on a project?

“Realizing what it takes: the time, and planning, and prioritizing for sure. I quit a couple jobs and really simplified my life to be able to focus on thesis, it’s really important to me. I’ve become much more conscious and dedicated about what it takes to be successful. Other designers either figure it out or they won’t: hopefully they like it, because it’s a lot of dedication.”

Would you say that you have a personal design "style" in your work?

“I definitely feel like I have a whimsical, vintage-inspired style, but it's still clean and modern.”

For designers, do you believe it's more important to work on projects you're passionate about or take whatever work is available?

“I think getting started is harder, because you need work and want work. But once you establish a name, you can take on work and develop a reputation where people will either come to you, or know that they would pick you based on your specific principles and interests.”

The graphic design industry is doing more digitally-based work these days: are you excited about the evolution of design, or do you like more traditional mediums?

“It makes me happy that I went back to school. I’ve never really been into the super-techy side of it, web building and design. Having a grasp on the concepts and how things work is really important going into the industry: being able to do them, but also knowing what your web coder is talking about.”

Do you have any favorite designers, artists, or resources you like to get inspiration from?

“I check out a lot of illustrators and typography: dailydropcap.com, abduzeedo.com, fromupnorth.com. I check out stylemepretty.com a lot, because I design a lot of wedding invitations-- they have a lot of good photography.”

What are your plans for the future?

“Within graphic design, I want to get into the fashion industry and the creative direction side of that. Whether it’s forecasting styles, or designing sets for photoshoots, or layouts for magazines. Probably a lot to do with magazines, because writing is what I’m really interested in. I really enjoy design and writing, so melding the two would be fabulous. Hopefully in New York City, or another big, happenin' city.”

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