Mary Meccage

Baker, MT |

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What made you want to become a graphic designer?

“I have no idea. I think design found me. I grew up on a ranch, came to college to study range science, and somehow I ended up in graphic design. And I wouldn't trade it for anything else.”

What are your favorite aspects of being a designer?

“I like seeing my thoughts on paper-- I like the challenge of the blank page and making it better. We can be kind of snotty about type and about other people who don’t do design thinking they can do it; it’s hard to be proficient in what we do. I think we feel snotty because we always have to defend ourselves to society: we have to defend what we do, why we do it, and what we’re gonna do. It’s always like, 'No, it’s important because'-- we always have to prove to society why we do what we do.”

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

“I think 'Thesis Land' is a magical, fictitious place: when you look at the real world, you’re never going to have all this time; you’re never going to be able to do what you want: it’s not real. Thesis is probably the only time when we’ll have four months dedicated solely to what we want to do, and it's not realistic at all. But it’s good for exploring your skills and talents.”

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

“I don’t start on things right away, it’s in the back of my mind. When I go about my daily business, I notice things: I’ll notice books more if I’m working on a book. I’ll catalog it in my mind, and do that as long as I can. Then the night before the deadline, it’ll culminate into something I can use. I can’t start right away: it’s like a bacteria has to grow before it can become something. When I honestly haven’t done anything, ’m not worried because I know it’s back there in my mind, brewing into something amazing. Once I have my creative direction and inspiration, execution is just going through the motions: it’s sitting down and opening the file; that’s the easy part.”

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

“I would say I try to be clean. I really like letters and typography; I’m realizing the power of words themselves come into play a lot in my stuff. I like incorporating a little bit of writing as well, and just boiling it down to what the message is-- visually and informatively.”

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 right now we can’t be too picky, but you create the type of work you want to do without knowing it. We’re going to have stuff we don’t want to do. You can’t always get what you want, but you can know what you want, and maybe that’s more important. You have to do work you don’t like to find out why you don’t like it.”

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’s definitely going to kick me in the shins, because I really don’t like digital mediums. I love holding things-- printed stuff. The smell of the books, the texture of the paper. With everything going digital, I feel like it just dulls the senses, and I’m not on board with that. I know it’s going to hurt me, but I’m not the only one who thinks like that, so it’s OK.”

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

“I have a lot of vintage books, advertisements, type, old catalogs, and magazines. Frank Chimero has a lot of ideas and ethics that I follow and believe in. Jessica Hische, because I love her typography. I really like Aubrey Beardsley because he was unconventional, used strong black and white shapes, and he had a graphic quality that was almost before his time.”

What are your plans for the future?

“Design great things. And write a book.”

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