Lily McLaughlin

Gardener, MT


What made you want to become a graphic designer?

“I have always had an eye for detail. My grandma gave her grandkids coloring books when we were little: She told me a few years ago that I always colored in the lines-- I was a perfectionist. In high school, I was on yearbook staff, but we also did the school newspaper. All the students got a chance to be the editor. My teacher, after seeing the finished product, suggested that I become a graphic designer because she didn't have to change a thing. At that point, I didn't really know what a graphic designer did, but I didn't have any other ideas, so I declared that as my major when I applied to MSU.”

What are your favorite aspects of being a designer?

“I like using my creativity in a useful and applicable way. I struggle with fine art because there isn't a lot of purpose to it. I think it’s inspiring to work with other designers, too.”

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

“I think there are some things that you just can’t learn in a classroom: an internship feels more meaningful. Honestly, I don’t put in half the effort into my classes that I will in the real world. Once you get into the real world, you’re like, 'This is gonna be printed and used'; in class, you’re just like, 'I’m getting a grade for this.'”

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

“I’m still a procrastinator. I think I need that pressure to be creative, though: I have a problem and it needs to be solved by this time and this day. I like developing the concept behind the work so it’s not just aesthetically pleasing, but so there's meaning behind it: some connection to what you’re designing for. I’m much more able to work on a project once I know there’s a definite reason or purpose behind it.”

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

“I definitely see a kind of classical or Victorian-era style, at least with typefaces. I stick with a lot of color schemes you find in nature: the river in the fall with slate grey rocks and pretty blue color, and red bushes by the side. Muted and jewel tones, too.”

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 both avenues are kind of inevitable. You’re gonna find a project that you really enjoy, but not every project that comes along will be like that. I realize that I'm OK with that: you just have to live for the projects that mean something to you.”

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?

“I guess I prefer more traditional mediums, but the way the world is progressing towards web media, I’m ok with that, too. I don’t think that the media you work in should affect the style you work in. In a sense, it doesn’t really matter one way or another: I don’t really have a great idea of what I wanna do, so I’m open to exploring different options.”

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

“Not anything specific; my mom sends me a lot of links to artists that she thinks are interesting. I usually take a mental image of something I like if I’m flipping through a magazine.”

What are your plans for the future?

“I have a lot of different interests. Last year I couldn't wait to be done with school so I could go do something else. After doing my internship, I've found that I actually like doing what I've been trained to do for the past four years. I'm just going to wait and see what kind of opportunities open up to me. If it's graphic design, awesome. If it's something else that I'm interested in... that's awesome, too.”

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