My Design Background…A Little History

OK…Ian has now written 2 posts in a row, so I figured I had better get my act together and get something up here too. I’ve been waiting to take some shots of these awesome Save The Dates I’ve been working on…but I haven’t had the time yet! So, I thought I’d do a little post about my design background. Although I’ve been working in graphic and web design for over 10 years now (yikes!), I actually didn’t go to school for it. No, the original plan was to be a rockstar. My chosen major of Music Technology was really just a way to support this dream – I thought I could make a living recording other people’s music, but mostly it was just an excuse to record my own. After I graduated (or somewhat before), I realized that I didn’t really have a passion for it. Add in the fact that home recording equipment was just starting to become affordable for regular people and the music industry was in major flux due to file sharing and the internet, and there weren’t a lot of jobs as an engineer anyway. Soo…back to the rockstar plan.

Ian and I were in a band together for about 5 years when we lived in New York. Since I was always the visually creative sort (amongst other ventures, my family did insane Halloween displays every year when I was growing up), I started producing the flyers for our shows and figured out how to build websites. At the time it was all in the name of promotion for my future life as a rockstar – I didn’t know it would end up being my career. Although early incarnations of our website were cringe-worthy and posters full of font mishaps (yes, that is Jokerman AND Chiller):

I eventually got better at it.


I started working at an independent record label in Manhattan creating album artwork, newspaper and magazine advertisements, and other promotional flyers. The job was a nightmare for many reasons, but it did get me started earning money for designing. Although it eventually became clear that our band wasn’t going to “make it,” the flyer below was actually what caught the attention of the owner of a packaging company in Chicago and landed me the position of Creative Director when we moved here 7 years ago.

So even though my dreams of rockstardom didn’t pan out, all that time I spent futzing around with Photoshop and Dreamweaver certainly gave me some marketable skills. I like to think that because I’m completely self taught, my designs definitely have their own personality. When I started learning how to letterpress print about 4 years ago, I brought some of that Halloween display / band poster / slightly offbeat look to the press. While I certainly can do more traditional and conservative wedding invitations, it’s not what I like best. I spent many years fretting about the fact that I didn’t have a degree in design or printmaking, and even took some online courses to make myself feel more “up to snuff.” What I found was that I already knew most of the stuff they were teaching, and I’ve actually grown to appreciate that I have a different approach. I think that more than anything, people seek me out because I really love what I do, and I bring a non-cookie cutter aesthetic to every project I work on. So when Monica came to me for her wedding invitations and said she was interested in a Hatch Show Print style movie poster theme, I was ecstatic. Projects like these really are the culmination of all my experience.


More photos and a whole post about these coming soon.

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About Nina

I am a design consultant, writer, letterpress printer, nature enthusiast, and lover of local/organic food...with a dash of rock and roll. Also, I want to be a cowboy.
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