When did you get started in graphic design?
Lynda: I got my start over 20 years ago at a small trade publication where I was trained in paste-up and production.
What equipment/programs do you use?
Lynda: Macs. Quark, Photoshop, Illustrator, Freehand, InDesign, and last but not least, pencil and paper.
What other types of art do you do?
Lynda: I paint, and on occasion, photograph.
Who are your main influences?
Lynda: The Dadaists, Abstract Expressionists, Hans Hofmann, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg. While primarily fine artists, they influence my design work as well. Of graphic designers, I’m influenced and inspired by Paul Rand and Saul Bass. Their work captured the essential image and tone of whatever they were working on in simple and memorable ways… Other designers working today whom I’m influenced and inspired by would be Louise Fili, David Carson, Stefan Sagmeister, Chipp Kidd, Aesthetic Apparatus… Lately, I’ve rediscovered the artists and designers of the Wiener Werkstatte.
What have you been doing recently in your career?
Lynda: In addition to running cooldogdesign, I teach at Otis College of Art and Design and give free advice to students on the side. I’ve been encouraged to expand my painting and photography so I’m working on that as well. With everything done on the computer, I try to get back to hand work; painting is good for that.
What accomplishments are you most excited about?
Lynda: Getting recognition or being asked to be in shows is very gratifying and I am proud of that. But being in business for almost ten years and having loyal clients with whom I’ve worked for years and years who support that business is probably the greater accomplishment.
How has AEM helped you become a better artist as you integrate your faith and your art?
Lynda: AEM’s support for artists is fantastic and much-need because a) it’s not just for those in the entertainment industry, but for all kinds of artists, and b) they’re very encouraging. That support and acceptance encourages me to be myself while I pursue the gifts and vision God has given me. I’ve realized that developing those gifts honors God because I am using and putting out there what He put in me. When that happens, it’s another way that I remove the covering from the lampstand so the light can shine. When we share what He put in us, be it through a logo or painting or acting or singing or writing, He uses it to draw others to Himself through that, amazingly.
Have you had any struggles with integrating your faith and your art?
Lynda: Not really. I tried bringing overt Christian symbols into my fine art, but it didn’t ring true. When I’ve designed for Christian organizations, I avoid what’s typical because I want to convey something fresh and appealing to the audience. As for non-religious work, which is most of what I do, I had to let a client go once because I found they were supporting work that was contrary to my values.
Does your relationship with God inform/inspire or limit your creativity?
Lynda: I may limit myself, but God never does. He’s the one who encourages me to both dream and then make it happen.
What advice would you give to an aspiring graphic designer?
Lynda: If you are not in school, start taking classes. Develop your design skills, study art history, learn the relevant software, be open to being inspired by what’s around you, be it a bubble gum wrapper or a piece of bark. And remember that the computer is just a very important tool which is not to replace thinking and ideas. Use pencil and paper whenever possible to generate those ideas. Work for others for as long as possible, doing as much different design as you can. Know you will make many mistakes along the way. Be as excellent as you can. I also suggest internships and joining student design groups like AIGA (America Institute of Graphic Arts) or GAG (Graphic Artists Guild). These are great for networking. Regardless of whether its print or interactive, it’s still about coming up with ideas and implementing them in a way that creates success for your client. One more thing: With so many talented people out there, another way to stand out is by having a good attitude. This includes taking criticism well.
What struggles do you face as an entrepreneur? Any advice to someone who wants to open their own design firm? When should they, what are the risks? How has this affected your walk with Christ?
Lynda: One challenge is marketing one’s own business. While designers market for everyone else, they typically procrastinate or avoid marketing themselves. If you are going to be in business for yourself, you need to get comfortable with marketing, or get trusted partners to help you.
Another challenge is getting paid for what you’re worth. Often, people have this tendency to think that creatives shouldn’t be paid for their ideas and work. However, that’s precisely why they should be paid. We drill down and come up with solutions that define and support our clients unique image in the marketplace. Design does affect a business’ bottom line.
I highly recommend that designers who want to open their own design firm talk with a few other trusted designers who’ve done it already. Ask them the pros and cons, what they’ve learned, what would they do differently, etc. The local small business development center typically has free workshops to help you plan setting up a small business. Read books on starting a creative business. Have plenty of savings in the bank. Network. Send thank you notes. Don’t burn any bridges. Keep personal and business accounts, paperwork, etc. separate. Talk to an accountant about how much more tax you will be paying, realistically. Set up contracts for your projects. Never ever start a job without a signed contract and deposit. If you want to have your own firm, understand that working as a designer and running a design firm are two different things. Basically, you’re taking on a second job. Guaranteed it will be a lot more work than you think it is.
Having my own design business has drawn me into greater dependency on Christ. And it’s shown me how truly and consistently He cares about each one of us. Every day, it’s walking it out, trying to stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit and follow His leading, trusting Him.