Featured In-House Designer:
Graphic Designer | Millard Lumber
Take a moment to meet Brandi Bothe! Brandi is a multi-hat wearing in-house designer at Millard Lumber as well as a blogger, a freelance designer, a social media manager, an avid karaoke-er, a project DIYer, and an inspiration to new designers.
“Prioritize self-confidence. Confidence isn’t something that just happens, you must actively work on it.”
Tell me about yourself, where you work, and a description of what you do in your position:
A farm girl at heart, I’ve never been afraid of getting my hands dirty. There’s always a dozen or so items on my to-do list. As a solo in-house designer, I wear many hats at Millard Lumber. Not only am I the sole designer, I’m also the social media and marketing specialist. As such, I concept, design and execute the design and marketing strategies for Millard Lumber and its custom cabinetry division, APEX Cabinetry. So really, I do it all – internal communications, social media strategy, promotions, events, website design and maintenance, ad creation, branding initiatives and more. When I’m not in the office, you’ll likely find me running my freelance design business, crafting feverishly, camping with my husband or belting karaoke in a local dive bar.
How did you get into design?
I was always an artsy kid. In fact, I took my first Bob Ross painting class at the age of 9. But it wasn’t until high school that I realized I could make a living out of what I loved. I had the most amazing art instructor in high school (Mr. Waldner – that’s you!). When I ran out of art courses, he created more. I like to think he always knew I’d end up in graphic design or a similar field. I also took some college courses in web design and Flash (ha!) at that time. When I graduated high school, design was the only logical choice.
What inspires you?
I’m a firm believer that experience is the best inspiration. When designer’s block hits, I step away from the computer and outside of my comfort zone to get the ideas flowing. I also love to dissect other designers’ work – to look at the details and consider their design decisions and inspiration. I believe examining how other designers troubleshoot and execute design solutions is a catalyst to professional development.
What’s your design process?
First, I identify the need. What are they asking for and why do they need what they are asking for? Then, I look at it from the end users’ perspective. What does this mean to the consumer? What problem is this solving? From there, I sketch and write everything that comes to mind. Once I’ve got everything visible, I assess those ideas, combine them and simplify them in different variations taking note of what feels right and has the most impact. After deciding on a central concept, I’m off bringing it to life. Finally, I ask again, does this solve the problem? What does this mean to the client? What does this mean to the end user? Is there a gap between what it means to the client and their consumers, and if so, what kind of education should take place to bridge that gap?
What do you do when you feel stuck creatively?
Step outside my comfort zone. Try something new. Start that DIY or craft I’ve been putting off. Surf Instagram. Sleep on it.
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?
Yes, but in the most positive way. Because I’m the all-in-one Designer and Social Media Specialist, there is always something to be done. I much prefer overwhelmed to under-whelmed, chaotic to lackluster, and I thrive when my professional development is self-driven. If there is something I want to learn, I learn it. If there’s something I want to do, I clear it with the execs and I do it. Millard Lumber has been and continues to be a great place to expand and refine my skill set.
Do you freelance? What kind of work do you do?
Yes. I work with a variety of clients on a variety of projects including website design and maintenance, branding, social media management, venue posters, merchandise design, illustrations and more.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Camp, craft & karaoke! Hang with my ultra-funny hubby. Take on far too many DIYs at once (from time to time, our dining room looks like a Michael’s tossed its cookies).
If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, this era or eras past, who would you meet and why?
Amy Poehler. She’s incredibly inspirational and I’m pretty sure we’d become instant besties.
What local non-profits are you most passionate about and why?
Food Bank for the Heartland, Habitat for Humanity and the Barrientos Scholarship Foundation. I believe everyone deserves basic needs and equal opportunities. By donating time and/or funding, I can contribute to our community and its future.
Any advice for new designers?
- Be yourself – quirks and all. People dig authenticity.
- Stop comparing yourself and your work to others and their work. It’s a waste of energy. If practice makes perfect, fall in love with the practice and YOUR perfect will come.
- Prioritize self-confidence. Confidence isn’t something that just happens, you must actively work on it.
- Don’t be afraid of in-house. In the right house, it can be a pretty sweet gig.
- Don’t follow your dreams – chase them down and beat them into submission.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Brandi!
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