Meet Stephanie, Visual Designer
MAIP Year: 2014
Title, Company: Visual Designer, Huge
Stephanie Corona is a visual designer based out of Chicago, IL. She recently made the jump to the digital world of design, and currently works with Huge on the McDonald's account. Previously she's gotten to work with on projects for Bayer, SC Johnson, Wrigley, and United Airlines. She has a background in advertising, infographics, presentations, and bookmaking.
Who/what influenced or inspired you to pursue design?
I was extremely lucky to attend a public high school that had a well-developed and well-funded arts program. I got to learn about the fine arts beyond the typical drawing and painting skills, and got to participate in graphic design courses throughout my high school experience. I had influential teachers who encouraged and supported me as I learned the hard software skills needed to be a successful designer, and thanks to their support was able to hit the ground running in college. Seeing from such a young age that art could lead to a career that I could support myself with—and having teachers who encouraged that path —really pushed me to pursue design. Donating to youth art causes and supporting local candidates who want to better fund our public schools is important to me today for this reason.
Tell us about how you got started.
In college, I pursued any design experience I could get outside of class. I designed logos for local non-profits, helped friends design event posters, and even took a part-time job with my university's marketing department designing brochures and web graphics. And of course—MAIP (the Multicultural Advertising Internship Program). MAIP gave me the skills and connections to confidently move to Chicago to kick off my career. When I first moved to Chicago permanently, I didn't have a job, but thanks to the network I had from MAIP I was able to quickly build a freelance base (including my MAIP agency) and eventually land my first full-time design job at Energy BBDO.
What is a typical day for you?
Every day is a little bit different. Some days, I have my head down as I really crank out a project to meet a deadline. I actually love those days‚ because I work best with just a little bit of pressure! Other days may be spent meeting with the client or reviewing, while still others will be more collaborative, brainstorming with the team or sitting down together to solve a problem. Some days are a little more stop-and-go, so I use my downtime to do skill building and learn about the ever-changing best practices in my field.
What are its biggest challenges?
One of the biggest challenges that all designers face is self-doubt. As with any creative job, designers attach a lot of self-worth to their work, in part because it is so personal and in part because our professional atmosphere circles around an idea of "creative genius"—the idea that either you're creative, or you're not. It results in a lot of imposter syndrome and competitiveness. I've found that one solution is collaboration—bring in other designers, get outside opinions early and often, and detach from the concept that design is personal work. Learning how to accept constructive criticism, and how to ignore unproductive criticism, have also been important to my growth as a designer.
What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of work?
Rock climbing is my current obsession, but I also love anything in the outdoors - backpacking, kayaking, and day-hiking. Nature rejuvenates me, and I often turn to to it when I am in need of inspiration. Rocking climbing in particular hits on a lot of design-thinking skills: attention to detail, problem solving, and team work. I also try to stay creative outside of my full-time design work—drawing or letterpress printing are some of my favorite ways to do this.
Do you have any words of advice?
Three things: Don't compare yourself to others—focus on yourself and your goals. Fresh out of school, I wasted a lot of stress over finding that full-time job because that's what all my friends were doing. Turns out, freelancing and taking a chance on myself led to the job that was perfect fit for me.
Secondly, when you find that you aren't learning and growing in whatever it is that you're doing, it's time to move on to a new opportunity.
And thirdly, get your coins and start saving as soon as you can. Job stability is hard to come by in a creative field, so when you're ahead make sure you tuck away some money for a rainy day. When it's time to make a move or take a leap of faith, you'll be glad that you did!