Aubrey Klein, 24
Give us a brief bio:
Where are you from? Born? Raised?
From/Born/Raised in Wichita, KS
Where did you go to school?
Kansas State University
What did you study, and how did you become interested in design?
I grew up with a love for drawing and painting, but in high school, I became more interested in problem-solving than self-expression. This prompted me to (excitedly) pursue a degree in graphic design.
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 believe all new designers struggle when they first enter the field, but women face a different set of challenges (particularly societal pressures to put careers aside to start families). Becoming a leader in the field requires a woman to continue pursuing her career goals, even in the wake of marriage and children.
How about the Dallas community specifically? How was your experience entering the field here and getting to where you are now?
The design community in Dallas is tight-knit, but very helpful and receptive to newcomers. My experience entering the field in DFW took three years. I made a point to visit Dallas every spring to re-connect with creatives I had met at my first DSVC Student Conference, and after landing a couple interviews, I was finally hired as a web designer at Fossil in the fall of ‘10.
What are specific milestones you’ve encountered? (Interpret at will)
- My first (and worst) design job ever: Designing vanity license plates and vinyl decals at a kiosk in the mall
- Volunteering at the National AIGA Conference for my first trip to New York City
- Going to the DSVC Student Conferences in ‘08,’09 and meeting my (now) mentors
- Finishing my senior portfolio (and seeing it published in Flaunt by UnderConsideration)
- My first internship and two “big kid” jobs
- Relocating to Dallas, TX, for my current position as a web designer at Fossil
What are the most significant things you wish you had known when starting out?
I wish I would have known more about talking money with freelance clients and negotiating with potential employers. Having formal training in UI architecture would have been extremely helpful as well.
What are the most difficult challenges a designer faces in her career?
Knowing when to leave a design job, particularly to relocate somewhere unfamiliar, has been one of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced.
How did you adapt your skills and knowledge to the challenges you faced?
My college professor used to say, “When you stop learning, it’s time to move on.” While it is difficult to leave fun coworkers and exciting projects behind, keeping that phrase in mind has helped me understand when it is time to pursue new opportunities.
What is the most disappointing mistake or problem that you’ve encountered in your career?
When I started my first job, I had difficulties with time management and saying “no.” I would accept more projects than I could comfortably fit on my plate, which resulted in poor execution and near burnout. I have since learned when to ask for help and how to better balance a heavy workload.
Who are your personal role models, and what styles influence your work the most?
My personal role models are individuals who dedicate themselves just as much to their personal work as they do their professional work. (Names that come to mind: Matt Stevens, Nicholas Felton, Kate Bingaman Burt)
Who have you worked with who has impacted / influenced you the most?
Overall, web developers have been some of the most interesting (and creative) coworkers I have worked with. Aaron Fisher, the first developer I worked with one-on-one, allowed me to practice front-end code and helped me understand basic concepts of UI and web design. I apply the knowledge he shared on a daily basis.
What are your personal organization or time-management tips – professionally and life-wise?
Prioritization is key. I still handwrite my to do lists so I can more easily memorize/visualize my tasks in order.
What are you dedicated to outside of work? How do you handle the pressure of deadlines and stay well-rounded?
Outside of my day job, I am a mix maker for Designers.MX, yoga novice and freelance designer. I try to leave work at the same time every day (if I can help it) and leave those stresses at the office. Making time to relax with friends on a weekly basis – even if I have to schedule it – keeps me sane, too.
Have you had to make sacrifices one way or the other (relationships, jobs, hobbies, etc) for any reason?
When I accepted the biggest job of my career, I had to sacrifice the closeness of my family and friends (geographically speaking, at least).
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?
I love the idea of changing technology. While traditional mediums will always have a place in my heart, I am fascinated by the way formerly printed materials are going digital. I try to brainstorm with developers and research trends in interactive design to stay innovative and inspired.
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?
Most of my favorite work is illustrative (reflecting my fine arts background) and type-based (reflecting my fascination with words).
What should students and new designers focus on outside of their course work to advance in their careers?
Passion projects! Design-related or not, personal work gives a designer the opportunity to explore new things and learn about herself in the process.
What would you recommend to students who aspire to working in design? Any message to female designers specifically?
Volunteering at design conferences allows you to (somewhat inexpensively) gain inspiration and meet a lot of experienced creatives – I highly recommend it. Overall: travel, make friends with everyone, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- 1 aspect of design you give the highest priority to. Content. If the content sucks, prettiness can only do so much to save it.
- 1 design-related book you highly recommend to read. How to Be a Graphic Designer without Losing Your Soul
- 1 design magazine you read on a daily/weekly basis (online or offline). Smashing Magazine
- 1 website you have bookmarked (design / non-design) Designers.MX
If you could take a trip anywhere in the world for design inspiration, where would it be?
Dubai, UAE. It is home to so much innovation and manmade first-of-its-kinds that it would be an incredible place to see where the future of technology and architecture is headed.
What are three qualities that you admire most in a designer.
Sense of humor, curiosity, humility.
If you had to choose another profession, what would it be?
Copywriter or Six Flags caricature artist.
Second to lastly, what is your favorite memory / recollection of working? Any incident? Any crazy deadline? Any inside joke?
With the help of my web group teammates, we choreographed, rehearsed, and successfully performed as a dance crew in front of the entire company. (Easily the strangest/coolest team building experiment I have ever been a part of.)
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 believe there are ample design opportunities for women in DFW. The ladies I have met here are very empowering and career-minded individuals, and they have inspired me to continue expanding my knowledge and become more involved in the design community.