Designer Interview: Julia Muscarello

This is the final post in our October series of interviews with the six designers featured in the exhibition By Design, in the Baer Gallery of the Bush Art Center through October 30. Two more days to see the show and choose a pencil (display and packaging design by Julia Muscarello, the designer featured in today’s post)!

Julia's fun gifts to gallery visitors!
Julia’s fun gifts to gallery visitors!
Shopko BTC vendor art
Shopko vendor art
Shopko Gift Cards
Gift card designs
Shopko Facebook posts
Shopko facebook pages

Would you describe a typical workday?

I start my workday around 7:30 a.m., commuting into downtown Chicago from Lake Forest via the train. People from outside of the Chicagoland area don’t really understand why I do this long commute but I really quite enjoy it. I finally get a chance to either design something for fun on my Mac or sketch out new project ideas for myself. It’s a way to keep my mind fresh and get the creative juices flowing for my day while the train is going into the city center.

After the train ride I walk about fifteen minutes from the train station to work. I’m a graphic designer for an ad agency and I work on team that manages projects for a Fortune 500 company. My workday starts at 8:30. I like getting to work a little early, before everyone else, so I can get organized, checking email and preparing for any meetings. Some workdays can be quite crazy and others are less hectic. It all depends on when a client needs a project done. For example, I could get assigned a project at 4 p.m. that needs to be done by the end of the day. Or, I could get a project that is due the next week. I’m always very busy and never bored! I usually have about five large projects I’m working on in a given week with project changes and quick deadline projects also thrown into the mix. We currently have about thirty open projects for one client’s account. If you can work under pressure, balance a few things at once, work fast, yet efficiently, and are fluent in all Adobe and Office products, you can be a good designer.

I work with a creative director and a senior art director on the account. We also have three account executives and they communicate directly with the client to receive feedback on pieces and take on new projects. They communicate with us in a very organized and efficient system.

I have a desktop Mac and I’m always working in Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, and sometimes PowerPoint. I’m usually designing print ads, e-mails, and internal presentations for clients. There are always other miscellaneous projects too – for example, I’m currently designing a logo for a new product. I usually have one or two project meetings each day.

I also have a dog underneath my desk because you can bring your dog to work! For lunch, I sometimes walk around the West Loop or admire the Chicago skyline from our office rooftop if it’s nice out. I love being in the city because there is always something going on and each street has its own character. After work I usually head up to our bar on the 4th floor for a beer with my co-workers or watch the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field or on TV. I head home at 6:30 p.m. after a workout at the Crossfit gym next to my work.

What were your “next steps” after graduating from SNC?

During the summer following my junior year, I was fortunate enough to intern at the Shopko Corporate Office in Green Bay. I was a graphic design intern there and got to design the fashion pages in the mailers and catalogues and gift cards for the holiday season. I’m really into fashion photography (and photography in general), so I was also able to take the photos during the photoshoots when we had models on site. I continued working at Shopko during my senior year, balancing school and another internship at Performa Inc.  Shopko hired me as a graphic designer when I graduated. I continued to design fashion ads and had a few more responsibilities, too. I also got to be really involved with Shopko’s Facebook page and designing social media images. After a year at Shopko, I decided I wanted to do something different to challenge myself as a designer so I took a graphic design position at an ad agency in downtown Chicago. I’m totally loving what I do now and I’m close to home. I’ve always been working since I graduated. I felt like I needed to jump right in after graduation in order to gain experience and advance my career.

Describe the journey to the work you currently do?  How has your design work evolved over the course of your career? 

A big change was definitely going from a corporate setting at Shopko to an agency setting. Even though there are some hectic days at the agency the working style there is definitely a “work hard, play hard” style. I went from designing the fashion pages in catalogues at Shopko to doing all sorts of projects at my new job. It was important for me to switch jobs because I felt like my creativity wasn’t being used enough. A designer’s work can always be evolving. I like to try new things and see new places. Seeing new things sparks ideas. I don’t respect people who like to “settle.” Doing the same thing every day, seeing the same things, and being comfortable with the same things does not help one grow as a designer.

What advice do you have for current SNC Art students?  What opportunities should they take advantage of at SNC?  What should they best do to prepare for life after college?

Get out and get out of your comfort zone. Don’t sit in your dorm room and watch Netflix. Everyone at St. Norbert is super social and there are so many nice people there. Heck, I probably met a new friend every day, whether it was at the library or in class. I played on the Women’s Ice Hockey team because I felt like that was a huge opportunity in itself to be involved. Try to socialize with other people and talk with your professors as much as possible. All of them are SUPER cool and very fun to hang out with! Also, I would suggest doing your homework and art projects in the art building after class – it’s so relaxing in the Bush Art Center! Try to do anything that you wouldn’t normally do because, you never know, it could lead to something else or bring a new idea to your mind.

Who and what are you artistic inspirations?  

This is probably a super cheesy and cliché thing to say but I have two people who are a big factor in my artistic inspiration, my mom and my dad. My mom is super artsy and creative, even though she was a chemical engineer at IBM. Drawing pictures with her when I was little helped me become who I am today. My dad is a pilot for United and I am so thankful that he has such a cool job! I’m his “world traveler” and will gladly use his profession (and employee discount!) to help me trek across the globe. Seeing the world has made me become SO imaginative and helps me think of new ideas. It goes back to the idea I mentioned before that to keep your mind fresh you must get out there and see something different. I definitely learned that from studying abroad in Florence, Italy.  Anyway, my parents have taught me to work hard all of the time and this is why I feel like I am pretty successful today.

Retail stores are very inspiring too. Target’s designers are so talented. Their ads are so fun and their concepts are so unique. If I don’t have much to do except eat my lunch during my lunch break, I’ll walk four blocks south of my work to City Target just to look at the in-store signs and designs. They have such different and colorful products and seeing them helps me stay imaginative.

I really like looking at Williams-Sonoma and Trader Joe’s for package designs, too. Both stores have great food and I can spend a long time picking up their boxes and looking at their innovative designs! There are also some really neat grocery stores in the North Shore suburbs that stock products with really cool package designs. I was supposed to buy something for dinner really quickly the other day but instead spent about an hour in the grocery store looking at all of the trendy designs!

Chicago is a huge artistic influence on me. Each neighborhood and street is so different. The buildings, people walking down the street, and restaurants are just so interesting to look at. I don’t need to go to the Art Institute of Chicago just to look at art – it’s already outside! But I do like the Art Institute and all kinds of art museums. The Museum of Contemporary Art is very interesting and innovative.

Julia Muscarello graduated from St. Norbert College in 2014, majoring in Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design and minoring in French.  She played on the SNC Women’s Ice Hockey team. She has a worked as a graphic designer for the Shopko Corporate Office in Green Bay, interned at Performa Inc. and currently works at an advertising and branding agency in downtown Chicago.

Designer Interview: Brad Krawczyk

Blue Hope’s Strides for Kids
Page from bk Clothing Co. Catalog

This is the fifth post in our October series of interviews with the six designers featured in the exhibition By Design, in the Baer Gallery of the Bush Art Center through October 30.

Would you describe a typical workday?

I work out of the Pizza Man corporate office when I’m not at either restaurant. I oversee and manage all the creative work: graphic design, website design and maintenance, menus (we have five!), our email newsletter, direct mailer, photography, and video.  I create content for our social media platforms along with the print production for all of our menus, flyers and posters, which between two busy restaurants is a lot! Our wine lists change every month, each unique to its restaurant.  Along with our pizza, they have been a staple of the Pizza Man tradition since 1970. Our specials also change every couple of weeks, depending on the seasons and the ingredients that are being featured. One of my favorite responsibilities as creative director is conducting photo shoots for the food and being able to eat it afterwards, especially when it’s truffle season! Delicioso!

I also manage and oversee all the creative and online advertising campaigns for F Street Investments, which owns a number of businesses.  In addition, I am the owner-operator of BK Clothing Co, which is an apparel line I started back in 2010. I typically work from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week but also frequently find myself working from home in the evening and on weekends.

What were your “next steps” after graduating from SNC?

After graduating from SNC in 2006, I moved back into my parent’s house in Pewaukee and was looking forward to taking a month (or two) off to relax and watch the World Cup. I’m a big soccer fan and a year earlier I had just finished a semester abroad in Florence, Italy (Italy won!). I remember vividly one morning when my father, an attorney, walked into my bedroom around 6 a.m. and told me I needed to start looking for a job. I had not applied to any yet and had been living there for about a month. Coincidentally, the next day I received an email from my SNC advisor and professor of Graphic Design, Brian Pirman, who told me that The Rave / Eagle’s Club was looking for an art director. I sent in my resume and was thrilled when they asked me to come in that same day for an interview. The interview went well and they asked me to come back the next afternoon for a follow-up interview and told me I had gotten the job. That evening my dad asked me if I had started applying to any jobs yet. I told him that I applied for the lead art director job at The Rave / Eagles Club and that I would be starting the following Monday. He almost spit out his dinner!

Describe the journey to the work you currently do. How has your design work evolved over the course of your career?

As the art director at the Eagles Club I gained critical work experience and taught myself many different skills and applications. I went from being just a designer and photographer to a Flash designer and action scripter, web administrator, concert photographer, videographer, motion graphic artist, 3D artist, animator and renderer. I also took classes at MIAD and MATC before and after work to further my skill set. It was a great job for me because I’ve always been a big fan of music. I was able to see and meet a majority of my favorite bands and work with some great people for eight years.

I’ve been working as the creative director for the Pizza Man Restaurant group and F Street Investment group since last September. Transitioning from the entertainment business to the food industry has been an exciting change for me.

What advice do you have for current SNC Art students? What opportunities should they take advantage of at SNC? What should they best do to prepare for life after college?

Never stop learning. Don’t be limited to being a designer or fine artist. It was critical for me to learn new applications and keep developing new skills after I graduated. I feel students sometimes have the mentality that they’re paying to learn and when they’re done with school they think they are done learning. You never stop learning and if you can figure out how to get paid to learn new skills you will have done your future self a huge favor! Having a knowledge advantage in technology is always a big help.

Who and what are you artistic inspirations?

I’ve been inspired by many artists in my life and looked to their work to help develop my own style. Some of my favorite artists are Rene Magritte, Paul Cezanne, Robert ParkeHarrison, David Carson, and Cristiano Siquiera to name a few. Music is also a constant inspiration to me. I love finding new music and seeing live shows when I have time! The impressions my SNC professors, Brian Pirman, Fr. Neilson and Bill Bohné, made in my life were the most significant!

Bradley Krawczyk earned a B.A. in Art from St. Norbert College in 2006.  He has been working for over 9 years in the creative design field, serving as the Creative Director at The Rave / Eagle’s Club, one of the Midwest’s most popular and busiest concert venues, the Pizza Man restaurant group and F Street Investments.  He also manages BK Clothing Co., a small, independent apparel company based out of Wauwatosa and recently launched the creative company, Brandolier Creative.  He lives in Wauwatosa with his wife, Laura.  Visit

Designer Interview: Pamela Dufek

pd-01 (1)
Design by Pamela Dufek
Design by Pamela Dufek
Book design by Pamela Dufek

This is the fourth post in our October series of interviews with the six designers featured in the exhibition By Design, in the Baer Gallery of the Bush Art Center through October 30.

Would you describe a typical workday?  

The majority of my day is spent at my desk working on projects. Depending on the day, there is also a mixture of meeting with other team members, checking on projects that are being built in the workshop and discussing what I’m working on with the other designers. We always try to check in with each other and it keeps us all moving down a good path. Every now and then there are photoshoots and offsite meetings that break up the routine.

What were your “next steps” after graduating from SNC?

During my last semester at SNC I got hired as an intern at The Karma Group, a design firm in Green Bay, as a result of attending a portfolio review during winter break of my senior year. When I graduated from college they offered me a full-time position.

Would you describe the journey to the work you currently do?  How has your design work evolved over the course of your career?  

At my first job the projects I designed were a little more traditional…logos, brochures, posters, web design, ad campaigns, etc. After working at the Karma Group for 6 years, I took a job at Wild Blue in De Pere, and the projects changed, which in turn helped me discover new aspects of design that I didn’t know I enjoyed. My projects started to focus more on interior design and meeting themes that spun off into set or room designs. With the way Wild Blue is set up I was able to see these projects through to the finish, right in the same building I was designing in. That really helped me think about the process of creation in a different way. I’ve discovered that my favorite things, at least currently, are interior design and typesetting.

What advice do you have for current SNC Art students?  What opportunities should they take advantage of at SNC?  What should they best do to prepare for life after college?

Having your portfolio ready to go is one of the most important things you can do before you graduate. Getting an internship is often the best way to get your foot in the door and there are a lot of students applying for those so put a lot of time into making sure your portfolio is professional, cleanly laid out, and developed enough to paint an accurate picture of the designer that you are. I co-lead the internship program at Wild Blue and we’ve ended up hiring quite a few of our interns. It’s a great way to get noticed and start making connections.

Who and what are you artistic inspirations?  

It’s hard to narrow it down, but right now I’m a big fan of Aaron Draplin, Jessica Hische, and Tad Carpenter.  I really feel like inspiration is mostly found in the world around me on a day-to-day basis.  I always try to keep my eyes open for inspiration.

Pamela Dufek graduated from St. Norbert College in 2005. Pamela launched her career at The Karma Group, a design firm in Green Bay; she began as an intern and by the end of her 6-year stay there had been promoted to Art Director. In 2011 Pamela decided to shift her focus and took a new position as a designer at Wild Blue, a design agency in De Pere, WI. Pamela has just completed her 4th year at Wild Blue and now serves as a Senior Designer, as well as co-lead for the Wild Blue Internship program.

Pamela also enjoys playing piano, cooking, drawing, oil painting, and experimenting with design projects to decorate her home. Pamela and her husband, Matthew, reside in De Pere, WI.  See more of her work at

Designer Interview: Nick Patton

Norby the College Mascot, authored and illustrated by Nick Patton
SNC Admissions Booklet, designed by Nick Patton




Illustrations by Nick Patton

This is the third post in our October series of interviews with the six designers featured in the exhibition By Design, in the Baer Gallery of the Bush Art Center through October 30.

Would you describe a typical workday?

I have an hour commute to my day job at St. Norbert College. Some days I spend the commute thinking about my projects. Some days I spend it preparing for an interview or presentation and some days I listen to creative or NPR podcasts. Once I get to the office I’ll write down any thoughts or ideas I had during the drive. I keep a small moleskin notebook and pen in my pocket at all times. I use it for notes and for sketching.

The first program I open to start my official workday is called Things. It holds all my project notes and will generate a daily list of tasks for me to complete. Today I have twenty-five St. Norbert College design projects in the works and eight SNC design tasks that aren’t part of any larger projects. Outside of SNC, I have two picture book projects currently active and I usually have five or so interview projects at various stages for the Picturebooking Podcast.

I spend my day working through this task list. For the college, I work mostly in Adobe InDesign with supporting files from Photoshop and Illustrator. My focus is usually on print projects: brochures, postcards, booklets, flyers, posters, banners and general marketing material. I get to do both the design concepts and the execution for a large part of the college’s marketing.

I spend my lunch hour working on personal projects or freelance illustration. This includes picture book writing and illustrating along with running and maintaining the podcast.  At home I’ll continue working on my personal projects after the family has gone to bed. If nothing else I always draw in the evenings.

What were your “next steps” after graduating from SNC? 

I was really lucky and was hired as a design intern for the college when I was a student. Then I was hired as a full-time graphic designer at the end of my senior year. But my education didn’t stop at graduation. I’ve learned so much from my co-workers in the Office of Communications and I’m constantly reading, learning and taking classes to improve my artistic ability.

Describe the journey to the work you currently do.  How has your design work evolved over the course of your career?  

In the beginning I was looking to make cool stuff.  Now it’s all about the underlying structure.  All the design and illustration work I do is to say something. What the work has to say is the most important thing. I need to organize the communication to support, highlight and illustrate the content. Content is king and design should serve the content.

What advice do you have for current SNC Art students?  What opportunities should they take advantage of at SNC? What should they best do to prepare for life after college?

After I record an interview on my podcast, I always ask my guest if they have any advice for an amateur storyteller to help them become a professional so I’ve heard a lot of advice. And my recommendation is to ask and listen with an open mind to everyone. Pick and choose what you actually bring into your creative life. Test out ways of working and thinking. What works for one person will not work for everyone.

That’s pretty vague … so let’s give you some advice you can take away from all this reading you are doing.

Always, ALWAYS have personal projects. If you are an art student … you ARE an artist. And an artist should always have personal projects.

When you’re starting off you are not going to get the sexiest jobs. And even if you do get your “dream” job, you are going to be expected to follow someone else’s vision. Having personal projects lets you be in control of your creativity and frees you up to find what you love.

Who and what are you artistic inspirations?  

I don’t geek out over individual artists as much as I geek out over stories and ideas. The structure of storytelling is super interesting to me so I love the ideas presented by Scott McCloud, Joseph Campbell and Andrew Stanton.

Nick Patton is a senior graphic design at St. Norbert College and an author, illustrator and picturebooking podcaster. Basically, Nick likes to make things. His favorite things to make are stories. Nick’s first picture book, “Norby the College Mascot,” debuted in 2013 and combines his love of stories with his love of St. Norbert College.  His website is

Designer Interview: Amy Arguedas Toneys

This is the second in our October series of interviews with the six designers featured in the exhibition By Design, in the Baer Gallery of the Bush Art Center through October 30.

Would you describe a typical workday? 

I am currently a fabric engineer for Fabric Images, a manufacturer of printed architectural fabric structures in the Chicagoland area. Fabric Images works largely in the exhibit industry and manufactures materials for trade shows, concert venues, museums and hotels. A typical work day for me starts at 4:20 a.m.  I wake up before dawn to get my exercise in for the day (exercise is important to me and it’s unpredictable when I’ll leave the office), get ready for work at the gym and commute fifty miles by car to arrive to the office by 8 a.m.  My day consists of working cross-functionally with sales, project managers, engineers, metal fabricators and seamstresses to engineer and deliver architectural fabric patterns. The fabric patterns I design are built in Rhino and outputted as Illustrator files to a large CNC machine that will then cut the patterns into fabric.  

What were your “next steps” after graduating from SNC? 

I started working as a graphic designer for Jo To Go Coffee immediately after graduating from St. Norbert. My responsibilities as a designer varied greatly–I did everything from producing point of sale materials to billboard campaigns, website design and the interior design and build out of a prototype cafe. I enjoyed my time and experience at Jo To Go but had always aspired to study architecture and moved to the east coast to pursue a Masters Degree in Architecture from The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). During my time at RISD I was exposed to textile design and immediately fell in love with both the printed and manufacturing sides of it. Textile design was something I had admired but never seriously considered until after graduating in 2009 when the construction and building markets were in a severe depression. It was difficult to find work in architecture so I pursued a career path in textiles and haven’t looked back since. I combined my graphic design experience and knowledge of textiles to land a job as a textile designer for a womenswear clothing retailer in Minneapolis. I worked there as a textile designer before relocating to Illinois with my husband in 2013. I wasn’t able to find work as a textile designer when I moved, but was able to find a position within the architectural field which led to my current position at Fabric Images.

Describe the journey to the work you currently do.  How has your design work evolved over the course of your career?

I’ve always wanted to get back into printed textiles since leaving my post as a textile designer in Minneapolis. The work I currently do, outside my life as a fabric engineer, is to establish myself as a print designer in the interiors and home goods market. The work on exhibit in the gallery is a submission I’ve sent to Printsource in New York City. Printsource is a global market for surface and textile design in the USA and holds several shows throughout the year. Representatives from major retailers, manufacturers and catalogs attend Printsouce and my goal is to be accepted into the show, which will allow me to showcase my work to a much larger audience.

What advice do you have for current SNC Art students?  What opportunities should they take advantage of at SNC? What should they best do to prepare for life after college?

The best advice I can give art students is to expose yourself to as many areas of design as possible for insight and inspiration.  Always maintain a sketchbook and keep a close network of people who can give you constructive feedback on your work. Lastly, always stay positive. You may not have your dream job after graduation but you do have the choice to learn from your experiences and to make the most of what you have in order to achieve your goals.  

Who and what are you artistic inspirations?  

I have many inspirations. I am a big fan of color, shape and composition. In the textile world, I am a huge fan of Marimekko and Sonja Delunay.  In the worlds of fashion design and the built environment, I admire the materiality and concepts behind the works of Comme des Garcons, Kenzo, Issey Miyake, Herzog and de Meuron, and Hussein Chalayan.

Amy Arguedas Toneys is a textile designer and fabric engineer living in Illinois. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design from St. Norbert College in 2004 and a Master of Architecture from The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2009. Currently, her work explores the juxtaposition of two extremes with no middle ground and draws inspiration from the idea of what a collection of prints might look like if Coco Chanel and Janis Joplin were to collaborate together.  

Gallery Installation
Gallery Installation

Designer Interview: Brian Danaher

Brian Danaher, Poster design
Brian Danaher, Poster design
Brian Danaher, Package design
Brian Danaher, Package design
Brian Danaher, Package design
Brian Danaher, Package design

This is the first in our October series of interviews with the six designers featured in the exhibition By Design, now in the Baer Gallery of the Bush Art Center.

Would you describe a typical workday?  

I currently work full time at an agency, so my work day can include any or all of the following: brainstorm and strategy sessions, client meetings and presentations, design and illustration–actually doing the work, selecting and overseeing the work of vendors (photographers, designers, illustrators, developers), drinking lots of coffee and La Croix (though not at the same time), production work, project management, photo searching, sketching, directing a photo or video shoot, researching design trends and creating decks for presentations. I always make an effort to leave as close 5:00 every night as possible to have dinner with my family. The evening is for family time: spending time with my kids, helping with homework, sports practice, etc. Once the kids are in bed, I try to catch up on on household duties (paying bills, chores, etc) and then will finish up any work I didn’t finish during the day or work on a freelance project. Once the work is done and/or I’m too tired to go on, I’ll go to bed in the hopes of doing it all again tomorrow.

What were your “next steps” after graduating from SNC?

In the fall semester of my senior year, an SNC football teammate of mine put me in touch with his mom who worked at a publishing company. While she didn’t have any open design positions at the time, she offered to send my resume to some of her contacts. In the spring, prior to graduation, her company decided to add a designer to their staff. She brought me in for an interview and I ended up getting the job.

Describe the journey to the work you currently do.  How has your design work evolved over the course of your career? 

I’ve been drawing and painting since I can remember and always wanted to do something with art as a career, even though I didn’t necessarily know what that was. I heard graphic design was a way to make a career out of being creative and not starve, which sounded great. My first job out of school was at a small publishing company where I was an Art Director for a B2B quarterly magazine. We never had an art budget, so I became the in-house illustrator out of necessity. This allowed me to try different illustration styles as well as learn how to develop concepts from a stories that many times were very technical. It taught me not only how to find the interesting in (seemingly) boring subject matter but also how to make something out of nothing. I later moved on to agency work, where I’ve worked on a number of design and advertising projects either as a full-time employee or a freelancer. I’m currently full-time at an agency but continue to do freelance work on the side as well as work on my own personal projects. These days I do a lot more digital work (web sites, social content, video) and illustration than traditional design. I don’t do much print work anymore, which is what I used to do almost exclusively when I first started out. While I like digital work, there’s something nice about print that you can hold the finished piece in your hand at the end of the process. The shelf life for digital is so short that if feels like by the time you finish the project you need to immediately start thinking about the redesign. Overall, I think it’s important for designers try to constantly evolve, learn, change and grow. Things change so fast these days that it’s really the only way to stay relevant and employable. Plus, I get bored doing the same thing over and over again, so knowing that there are opportunities to take my work/career in new directions is exciting.

What advice do you have for current SNC Art students?  What opportunities should they take advantage of at SNC? What should they best do to prepare for life after college?

Design can be tough to break into as a new grad, but don’t give up. Interactive/digital experience (web, mobile, video) is in high demand so being able to design for that will give you an advantage over many other student applicants. For job hunting, you should have a well-executed portfolio site that shows a range of styles, a good use of typography and the ability to conceptually think through a problem. Proficiency in the Adobe Suite is a requirement. Interactive/digital experience, as I mentioned earlier, is a huge advantage. A positive attitude and a willingness to learn go a long way. Also, the ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing will set you apart from many candidates. For interviewing: dress appropriately, research the company and know what they do, present your work in a professional manner, be on time, be nice, and send a handwritten thank you note to everyone who took time to meet with you. Seek out designers you admire and reach out to them. Informational interviews are a great way to network and make contacts even if there is no full-time position available. Networking has never been easier thanks to social media and is really the best way to find a job. Don’t be afraid to work really hard or try something new, like moving to a new city or state. You are young and have a lot of time and freedom (something that you won’t always have), so use that to your advantage. One last important thing to remember: no matter how long you do this, your portfolio is never finished.

Who and what are you artistic inspirations?

Inspiration is literally everywhere and, oddly enough, I rarely find in by looking at design – or at least design exclusively. There are certainly illustrators and designers that I admire and it’s very important to keep up on the design trends but lately I found things unrelated to design and illustration to be much more interesting and inspiring. I use a mix of news, music, technology, design and social media sites to stay connected to current events, technology and trends, which is just as important as keeping up with design aesthetics.

Music is a big part of my creative process, and I admire musicians who continually push themselves to grow and evolve as artists like Radiohead, Dan Bejar (Destroyer), Britt Daniel (Spoon), Kurt Vile and Sufjan Stevens, to name a few. Live music is always inspiring and a great way to unplug from everyday distractions.

Reading good books (a mix of history, philosophy, theology, and classic literature) is great for inspiration, since reading is a way to feed your mind and helps you be a better designer. Michael Beirut once said, “Read more. Design is about making things readable so one must be very good at reading.” Reading other media (news, magazines, other digital media, etc) is good too.

I try to stop constantly checking the iPhone (which is a struggle most days) be quiet and pay attention to my surroundings. Being able to see things in the small and sometimes seemingly mundane experiences is very important because you never know what will spark an idea. It’s good to step away from the computer just sketch and use your hands to create something. Making things with your hands is an inherently human activity and is something that seems to be getting lost the more we rely on technology.

Finally, working with smart and talented people every day is a great way to stay motivated and inspired.

Brian Danaher is an art director, designer, illustrator, chronic doodler, coffee drinker, music addict and lawn care minimalist working in the Twin Cities. He is a 1998 graduate of SNC.

Visit:, twitter: @madeforending,