Featured In-House Designer:
Senior Designer | Creative Services, UNK
Meet Amy Jacobson! Amy is the Senior Designer in the Creative Services Department at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Learn how a college theatre project helped open her up to design as a career, read about the skills she developed as an in-house designer that were not taught in school, and lastly, take some of Amy’s advice and open yourself up to other disciplines outside of the fields of art and design.
“There’s so much more out there than your one area of the world, there are so many people to meet and learn from, and so many places to see and experience.”
Tell me about yourself, where you work, and a description of what you do in your position:
I started at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) in the Creative Services Department as a student designer in 2009. After graduating from UNK with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication I was offered an Associate Designer position, which has led to my current position as Senior Designer. As a Senior Designer for the university, I oversee graphic design projects and supervise our Print Associate and Associate Graphic Designer, maintain correspondence with clients and manage projects. With a small team we all share in making sure each department on campus receives what they need, from video and web, to design and print.
How did you get into design?
I’ve been a creative person since I was a child. I can remember building backpacks and wings out of paper. I like being creative and making objects, I just never thought I would be in a career where I am able to be creative each day. After high school I attended UNK not knowing what I wanted to study. I took some art, interior design and theatre classes as general studies. Eventually I decided on Technical Theatre. I entered a couple of posters into a theatre competition and really enjoyed the process, I looked into the visual design program at UNK and decided that was what I wanted to do. It has been a great experience learning and growing through many different creative fields.
What inspires you?
My inspiration can be found in many places. Current trends, nature, and good communication are all inspirations to me. Learning from past projects helps drive my focus and desire to continue getting better. Communication is inspiring because this is my goal as a designer, to communicate an idea or emotion through a visual product for the intended audience.
What’s your design process?
My design process starts with information. Receiving all the information from the client: who, what, when, where, why and how. Once all the information is gathered I start to research ideas, words and images. Anything that could be useful in representing the information. Then I make small sketches that help get the initial idea on paper so I can take that to a more finalized design.
What do you do when you feel stuck creatively?
When I feel stuck creatively I usually go for a walk, take a break and step away from the project. I also value feedback, I’ll ask others for their thoughts. Getting feedback from the team is important and needed. I don’t have all the answers, others can help clarify an idea or point out a different perspective.
As an in-house designer, are there parts of your job that you didn’t expect you’d be doing when you went into design?
As an in-house designer I do a lot of project management, which is something not usually taught in school. I didn’t really think about this aspect of the design process until I became more involved with client communication in our department. Being a project manager involves communicating directly with the client on many different aspects of the project from start to finish. It also enforces good use of time management to ensure that multiple projects we are working on are completed in the most timely manner. Most of our projects are completed in-house with our digital printers, so it is very important to be knowledgeable of the pre-press setup. This is an area of design that sometimes gets overlooked, but can be one of the most crucial steps in completing a project effectively. I’ve learned everything about pre-press and setting files up here in Creative Services as a student and it continues today. If current students stop by for prints, we try to help them set up their files correctly and hope that they learn something new.
Do you freelance? What kind of work do you do?
I really like freelance work, because it is different compared to what I work on for the university each day. There’s less restriction to the overall look and feel of a freelance project. I may not freelance often, but it is nice to help friends and family with wedding or birthday invites.
Any advice for new designers?
Do your best. If you’re in school, learn as much as you can. Learn to code, take psychology or business courses. Try many ideas, eventually you’ll get to the best solution and you’ll have learned something along the way. Lastly, get out and see the world. There’s so much more out there than your one area of the world, there are so many people to meet and learn from, and so many places to see and experience.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time I love to travel, especially to places with a beach so I can improve my surfing skills. I really enjoy spending time with family and friends, good food and watercolor painting. Currently I’m spending some free time staying up-to-date with the design industry and how I can grow as a designer.
If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, this era or eras past, who would you meet and why?
There are so many people that I would like to meet both past and present that I would have to have a party for them all!
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Amy!
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