Audrey Lee

Butte, MT | 

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What made you want to become a graphic designer?

“Ever since I was little, I have loved to sketch, draw, and make layouts. I have really enjoyed arts and crafts, and designing things-- making it look better, prettier. I found that a combination of advertising, marketing, and graphic design was interesting, and it's what I wanted to pursue.”

What are your favorite aspects of being a designer?

“Creating unique designs, things that make you feel like you’ve accomplished something, things that affect change. I like working on a computer, too, typing. I like patterns, designs, typography-- all the different aspects mixed together is intriguing, and I like working with it. After getting into design, it’s opened my eyes to a lot of subtle nuances in anything from opening credits to the layout of a magazine or book. You don’t really think about those things: the fact that someone put active thoughts toward the design's layout and how it interacts with the viewer. Now that I’m getting to create those myself, I'm learning a lot. I like the people in the program, too, everyone’s creative and nice. I love looking at everyone else’s work: the creativity that goes into every project, a lot of times it’s like, 'Wow, I wish I would have thought of that!'”

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

“I don’t think school alone does it. Internships are the best way to take the skills you’ve learned in the classroom and apply those to the working environment. You’re not on a campus, you’re in an office, and that prepares you way more than anything else. Obviously, you need the skills you learn in class in order to succeed-- it’s that pairing that works well.”

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

“I don’t think I’ve changed my process; I do a lot of research, and from there I try to think of unique ways to go about a project, whether it’s already in existence or if it’s something I haven’t seen before. Talking to a lot of people, especially those who are experts in their field, is always helpful. I try to sketch things out after the research. I like writing things down in my journal, then messing around with ideas on the computer and going from there.”

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

“I change it around a lot, but I feel like my background in business has enabled my style to be very professional, very clean, elegant, and structured. Things that you would see in handbooks or things that are ‘institutionalized’: that’s what I tend to go towards, but I really like art deco and art nouveau. The toughest part is breaking out of the mold: I do a lot of work for the university, and there are so many rules that make it tough to be truly creative on my own personal things because I’m always entrenched in 'business professional' mode-- everything’s very formal all the time.”

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

“It’s up to each person; a lot of people need a paycheck; sometimes you have to take the jobs that aren’t necessarily with the client or project you want to work on; you have to learn to work with those, especially when starting out; or when you’re established, you can be more picky; I would say everyone should try to find projects and clients they like b/c you’re gonna be more passionate and put in more effort and come up with a great end product, esp if it aligns with your beliefs, morals, etc.; it’s not a necessary evil as much as something the designer chooses; you could work part-time and take only the projects you want.”

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?

“The good thing about digital media is you can work from wherever you want; you get to be a designer anywhere. That gives you a lot of opportunities, and new technology opens up a lot of different jobs. Personally, I don't feel I quite have the skills to go into web programming; I like working with it and I’d like to get into it at some point, but I don’t think I’m there right now.”

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

“I really like posters: I look to rock 'n' roll, travel, and movie posters. I get inspiration from everyday life, too, like seeing packaging in a store. I like going into RoShamBo and places like that. I like to randomly pick up books and magazines, and look through websites, but never any specific ones.”

What are your plans for the future?

“I have enjoyed graphic design, but I know that I would be burned out if that was all I did. I hope to combine graphic design and business to either start my own business, or be a consultant for others starting their own businesses. I have also really started to work on my photography, so I hope to do more in that area.”

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