Sharon LeJeune, 45
Give us a brief bio:
I was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana – the youngest of 4 children. I went to school at the University of Louisiana where I earned a BFA. I am 45 years old.
Do you find that there are difficulties for female designers to find their place in the design community? How about to become leaders in the field?
I think it can be difficult for women, especially as they get older. The demands on your time and energy can be a challenge. Sometimes it can be hard to keep all the balls in the air.
How about the Dallas community specifically? How was your experience entering the field here and getting to where you are now?
My experience entering the field in Dallas was better than I could have imagined. I was lucky enough to land at David Carter Design, which was filled with great clients, travel experiences, good budgets and a wonderful boss.
What are the most significant things you wish you had known when starting out?
I wish I knew how much things were going to change.
What are the most difficult challenges a designer faces in her career?
You face different challenges at different phases of your life but I think the most difficult challenge overall is to try and keep a work/life balance. This is especially difficult if you have a family.
How did you adapt your skills and knowledge to the challenges you faced?
You have to learn to adjust, be flexible and make it work.
Who are your personal role models, and what styles influence your work the most?
I think Paula Scher is a great role model. She has managed to rise to the top in a male dominated organization. She has real conviction in her work.
Who have you worked with who has impacted / influenced you the most?
My first Creative Director at David Carter Design was Lori Wilson. She taught me so much about good design, client relationships and the importance of pushing every piece to be the best it can be.
What are your personal organization or time-management tips – professionally and life-wise?
I’m a list maker. I love the satisfaction of checking things off as I accomplish each item. It also keeps my head clear so I’m not always trying to remember what I need to do.
Do you have a family / kids?If so, how do you handle the pressure of deadlines and find time for your family?Other commitments outside of work/family?
I am married with 2 kids ages 5 and 8. My husband and I have worked together at Monster Design for the last 11 years.
It’s tough to keep a work/life balance – especially when you work with your husband. You can’t do it all 100% of the time. Sometimes family comes first and sometimes work comes first. You just have to learn to make it work and have an understanding partner.
Have you had to make sacrifices one way or the other (relationships, jobs, hobbies, etc) for any reason?
You definitely have to make sacrifices, unless you are one of those people who do not need sleep – which I am not! Different things have to give way at different times of your life. You just have to adapt to whatever phase you are in and enjoy it as much as possible because before you know it, things change.
Technology is changing unbelievably fast. What are your feelings about all of this information and automation? What are some of the ways you keep ahead of the game and stay innovative?
Just trying to keep up is challenging sometimes. You can’t be an expert on everything. It’s important to hire the right people and to have great vendor/partners to learn from.
Do you think your persona is reflected in your work? If yes, what aspects, if any, of your designs and illustrations reflects parts of your personality?
I like things clean and simple. I think this is reflected in my life and my work.
What should students and new designers focus on outside of their course work to advance in their careers?
I think that traveling increases your perspective on design and exposes you to a lot of different influences. I also think all designers should take basic marketing classes, public speaking classes and a business course or two.
What would you recommend to students who aspire to working in design? Any message to female designers specifically?
Make sure it is something you love to do.
- 1 aspect of design you give the highest priority to.
- 1 design-related book you highly recommend to read.
All design book gives me inspiration. I love looking at good work.
- 1 design magazine you read on a daily/weekly basis (online or offline).
I don’t have that much free time but I do enjoy CA and The Dieline.
- 1 website you have bookmarked (design / non-design)
Pinterest is my latest addiction.
If you could take a trip anywhere in the world for design inspiration, where would it be?
Paris, France. I love the architecture and history.
What are three qualities that you admire most in a designer.
Talent, honesty & enthusiasm.
If you had to choose another profession, what would it be?
Interior Architecture or Photographer.
Second to lastly, what is your favorite memory / recollection of working? Any incident? Any crazy deadline? Any inside joke?
I have many great memories of working in this crazy business. My greatest memories are all of the friends that I have made along the way.
Lastly, what would you tell people outside of DFW, about the opportunities for women here? How would you describe the women in the field here?
I think DFW is a great place for women. There is a lot going on commercially and it’s a very family friendly place to live.