Susan Torre

Hamilton, MT |

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What made you want to become a graphic designer?

“I've always loved marketing art and consider myself a decent draftsman, but didn't want to go the starving artist route.”

What are your favorite aspects of being a designer?

“I think just the ability to push art in a direction that makes it accessible to the public. I think art takes a more private aspect, and graphic design can serve a wider purpose. I think I’ve kind of struggled with marrying the two, because graphic design has more of that consumer aspect, where you’re trying to speak to or for someone, or about something. I think sometimes art is very introspective, whereas graphic design has to be more extroverted in order to have a purpose."

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

“I think it does. Thesis is something I’m a little more tied to: not only am I exhibiting it, but I’m trying to direct my interests: not only to better my creative process, but to engage everything from the past four to five years in a working environment. You’re tying all of this stuff together. It’s the product you have to create and the material you have to use; you’re taking years of experience and applying that to everything.”

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

“I’m a very visual person, and I have a much easier time writing down my thoughts. After that, I try to visualize what I’m doing, and then I try to find materials. I’m horrible-- I’m such a last-minute-type person, and I’ve really tried to improve on that, but I tend to create obstacles in my time that I’m always having to work around; there’s always something. Even if I lay out a schedule, and I start sticking to it, I always stray and there’s always rearrangements. Sometimes I just sit down, and work, and gets things done.”

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

“I think I’m still developing one. I like stuff that’s really clean and simple, but I also like stuff that’s really tactile, like found type, just throwing objects together. I’m still working on my illustration and improving on that, so that’s probably the telling factor when it comes down to it.”

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 essentially, you just have to make good work, and you can make good work when you’re not as tied to it. When you’re not trying to push your own interests, you’re more likely to respond to what the client needs. Most jobs out there aren’t your dream job; you do your job and make your money. You’re not going home and thinking, 'Oh, I care so much,' but at the same time you should follow certain moral guidelines. Don’t try to sell yourself: have things you’re interested in furthering or developing, but if not, make money and feed yourself.”

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 don’t think I mind kind of pushing myself to learn a little more the digital aspect. When it comes down to it, that’s really not my strength right now. As far as competing in the job market, I have a little work to do. All in all, I want to be able to have some hands-on time as well as computer time, and an increasingly digital industry doesn’t really speak to that.”

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

“I go through art magazines. I think I take inspiration from a poster I see on the street, or the cover of a book I happen to pick up; instead of seeking it out, I let the inspiration find me.”

What are your plans for the future?

“If I can find enough local work to not live out of a trash can... perhaps. When I think of furthering my education, I'm more interested in pursuing a masters in mythology or depth psychology. I don't think I'd ever move to a major metropolitan area to compete in the field-- it's not my style.”

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