“Design is one of the most powerful forces in our lives, whether or not we are aware of it. It can be inspiring, empowering and enlightening.” -Alice Rawsthorn
TM’s Senior Graphic Designer, Andrea (Andi) Anders is, as you’d expect, full of color and creativity. An artist in her own right, she hones her craft with passion and a humble outlook. “I never actually refer to myself as an artist,” said Andi. In her eyes, an artist is someone who’s “covered in oil paints or clay dust, who spends more time in the studio than they do sleeping.” With a chuckle she adds, “I’m a wanna-be artist that can’t seem to commit to the rough lifestyle of what I consider a real artist to be. But, I do think that everyone is capable of creating exquisite art and that in many ways, we are all artists.”
Whether or not Andi considers herself a ‘fine artist,’ our opinion at TM is that she fits the bill perfectly. After receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Michigan State University, she moved to the Metro Detroit area with her husband. It was a new beginning and a new adventure they could tackle together.
Lessons From Sparty
“I learned some valuable lessons in humility while I was at MSU,” said Andi. “You have to remember there will always be someone out there that’s better than you. To be great, you can never settle- and that means being fully committed to hard work.
I also learned to listen closely when someone you respect offers constructive criticism. It was really something I took for granted in school and now I feel I’m desperately waving my art around looking for someone to attack it, to hate it, or to give me some sort of advice on how to push it where it needs to be! An art professor told me once that the worst thing you can do as an artist is to create something people are indifferent to. It doesn’t matter if people hate your work or if they love it- it simply has to evoke an emotion.”
Why Did You Choose to Become a Graphic Designer?
Andi: As a child, I wanted to be a professional ballerina. After the ballerina thing didn’t pan out- I knew art was it for me. For a while I even wanted to be a painter! I took classes at Kendal College one summer, but it wasn’t until I started applying to different colleges that my eyes were opened to graphic design. I remember walking around the student galleries while visiting various schools, and the design work inspired me. I knew it was exactly what I wanted.
Working at Trademark Productions
When Andi began looking for her first “real” job after college, she came across TM and loved the small office environment feel. It was easy to get to know her coworkers on a personal level, and wearing jeans to work every day wasn’t so bad either. “At TM, I really value the fact that I’m not in a ‘partial design’ type of role. I don’t spend my time typesetting or formatting Word Documents. I spend all of my time working in Adobe Creative Suite, doing the real stuff!
During my time at TM I’ve developed a general process for every project, too. I like to spread out all of the relevant information I have in front of me; notes taken from the client, the client’s competitors, brand guides, logo, and inspiration references. Then, I try to brainstorm some user profiles and ask myself, “Who is going to be using the site?” Young mothers, retirees or athletes, for example, are all different scenarios requiring different design elements. Next I work to establish a hierarchy of what the different users might want to look for. I know my generation is phone shy, but an older audience is probably going to want to easily find a phone number and pick the phone up right away. Once I’ve spent some time thinking and jotting down notes I create a sketch – depending on the design I sometimes make this a detailed sketch – other times it’s a very rough wireframe. Whenever I feel that the sketching has done all it can, I move into Photoshop and begin the digital design.”
How has technology changed graphic design since you first started studying graphic design in college?
Andi: I think a lot more is available technology-wise than when I fist started studying graphic design. These days a great deal can change in just a year or so. However, I don’t personally feel as though I use technology much differently than I did in college.
“As digital products become ever more powerful and versatile, design has an important role to play in enabling us to use them confidently, efficiently and, if we’re very lucky, enjoyably.”
I really couldn’t agree more with this quote; everyone has had a moment of outrage where you want to throw your computer across the room- like a toddler having a temper tantrum. We’re doing this for the same reason. When we can’t communicate what we want, we get frustrated. Design is the bridge between these interactions because it helps to make it easy for us to use products enjoyably.
How do you stay inspired and motivated to create great pieces of design for clients every single day? Do you ever need a “restart” of sorts to get the creativity flowing?
Andi: I’m the first to admit that it’s a constant battle to stay inspired and generate new, unique ideas customized to each clients needs. I like to flip through design books a lot, the tactile interaction is a nice way to get some off screen time. There are also so many amazing resources online as well that I flip between inspirational websites and blogs a great deal.
Committing to a “restart” is always a good idea when you’re feeling a little bogged down. I usually leave the office for lunch when I feel like I’m not getting anywhere. During that time I make it a point to walk my dog so I can get outside in the fresh air- it’s a great way to recharge!
What do you like most about working for Trademark Productions?
Andi: I enjoy the creative freedom that I am given. If I want to illustrate something, I can. If I think that a video would look really good, I request one from a client. Working with Tyler, our Creative Director is so easy; it’s great to have another creative to bounce ideas off of and to help guide you in the right direction. I would never want to work completely solo – without getting another set of creative eyes on something before sending it to a client. Really the whole team here is amazing. We work quickly together, with deadlines looming left and right. Everyone here respects one another and we do all we can to help each other out wherever we can. That’s “The TM Family.”
Also, our location is great! I love the laid back office that’s always full of snacks! Being able to look out at the trees lining Main Street, all lit up in Royal Oak during winter months, is a real treat.
Has the work been challenging? Rewarding?
Andi: It’s definitely a challenge, agency life just is. When I’m not racing the clock, I’m racing myself to make each project a little better than the last. We want the best for our clients and a lot of attention goes toward making projects the best they can be everyday. It’s always rewarding, though! When all the hard work is done, and you get those thank you’s from happy clients- that’s really wonderful. Especially the ones that send snacks!
It has been said that designers, artists, and creative minds don’t “create” art or pieces of work- they simply see what needs to be done in their heads. It’s an artistic vision, of sorts. Do you find that this is true for yourself? Or, do you have another way of working?
Andi: I’d have to agree with that statement. One of my favorite artist quotes is from Edgar Degas: “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” I think that everyone has artistic ability, some people are just less in touch with it, and need help to see it.
Andi’s Top 3 Design Tips
1. Remember that opposites attract- this means contrasting colors, and typefaces. Don’t get stuck being all matchy-matchy.
2. Negative space is your BFF, the same way that good music needs pause, design needs some breathing room.
3. Don’t forget to sketch! Putting pencil to paper is not only therapeutic, but it will allow you to quickly wireframe a design and get a rough idea of what will and won’t work.
Outside of Work
Andi: When I’m not working, I love to paint, draw, do hand lettering, crafting, and ceramics. I have such a wide-array of interests that it’s so difficult to hone in on one thing! I’m also very active and fill my time with biking, running, and hiking! I love a good book, cooking and baking, too. Really, you name it and I probably love it.