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- Art Buyer Magazine
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- Association of Illustrators
- Cartoon Art Museum
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- Today's Inspiration
- UPPERCASE Magazine
Hola! Me llamo Maria de los Angeles Santos-Singleton…. Vivo en Surprise, Arizona. Okay, okay I stop! You know my name now, which is the longest. Yes I’m a saint, a little angel. You can just call me Maria, Marie, Chiquita, and I’m a graphic designer currently aiming to accomplish the never-ending dreams. I reside in Surprise, Arizona with my wonderful husband of almost 6 years, Jamel and beautiful daughters Isabelle and Olivia. For the past few years I’ve been working as an in-house graphic designer for an inkjet recycling and OEM packaging company. During my free time I enjoy freelancing, collaging, baking fresh and delicious chocolate chip cookies and of course spending time with my family! I decided to go with a casual introduction, I’m not very “clever” when it comes to writing about me. Enjoy the read!
When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?
While he doesn't know it, my older brother inspired my drawing interest. His work moved me in an emotional level most careers never did. I recall this piece he did when my cousin died in a car accident. My brother has never been one to express emotions. Through this piece he did. It was done on a gray stone colored paper, black ink, a man kneeling over in a cemetery with a wind flowing coat... it was so emotional. I wanted to do art that moved people they way his piece moved me. I think my whole life I’ve had a creative heart. However my desire to be in the art/design industry came to me through that piece my brother did.
Who or what inspires you?
I believe this question has an endless answer. I can easily be inspired by the way my imagination creates possibilities and then making those possibilities happen. The possibility of a good outcome or a catastrophic one. I also find a great deal of inspiration through travel - this inspires me the most because I'm open to the possibilities of the unknown. I draw inspiration from those experiences and apply them to my work. In the end I find the most inspiration through emotional connections. If I have an emotional connection with a particular item, I buy it because it inspires me. If I run into word, lyrics, poetry that mesmerizes me emotionally, I find a way to post it where I see it all the time so that I can remain in the moment of inspiration as often as possible.
Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?
My education started at The Art Institute of Phoenix... or did it? Really I find that even when you attend schooling your training comes from you. At least for me that was the case. I think I was a late bloomer, if that's the term. It took me forever to "get" graphic design during my schooling. The moment I got it, I really got it. I spent a lot of time doing tutorials, sketching, looking at art books, resources, reading - my training happened the moment I stepped out of class. My training happened through me. I took a simple taught lesson and evolved it on my own. So in the end I rather say that I'm self-taught. School taught me basic software and computer understanding, I taught me to be creative, to think "concept", to practice the craft and to have fun with my career.
How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?
Wow, I'm ashamed to say that I don't feel worthy of this question. I haven't felt too fresh these days. However I do my best (as mentioned above) I buy things that inspire me such as music, toys, poetry, and books. I try to not "follow" what others are doing in design but do things that satisfy me visually. Keeping fresh means sketching a lot, staying in touch with the world and the events taking place at the moment, looking at things through the past and the future and being open minded about these!
What are some of your current projects?
I work for as an in-house inkjet recycling company. It is a job that wouldn’t appeal to most graphic designers. This coming month I will be working on some packaging materials. I'm very excited about this project. Our company does a lot of packaging services but the clients usually have their own design groups so this will be a great opportunity. I think it will be fun to approach this new project from this industry's (inkjets) point of view. I also do work for myself. I've been thriving to put together some "pin-up" girl shirts. And while this might not be for a client, I find that I design the best when it's for "me". My husband and I also recently moved to a new home and I'm contemplating doing murals for my daughter's rooms. Those count as projects right?
Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
I haven’t been doing much these days. I loved my 1st and 2nd submission for the Howiezine (www.howiezine.com). I’m proud of the TV one because it was done without a computer. I tinted the background with acrylics, cut the paper, aged it, did it all away from that design crutch of mine aka “the computer”. The 2nd piece was for the “Naked” theme. I had an emotional connection with this one because I was expressing a very dark event in my life but in the end to express it on my work, well it’s now one of my favorites!
Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
Wow I have so many areas yet to cover!!!! I am very passionate about collage work and I would love to try it some more! I have always wanted to design my own font/s. But more than anything – one of my goals is to have my own greeting card business. I’ve been talking with my good friend and wonderful greeting card designer, Melissa Morris (http://www.melissahead.com/). I’d like to have both of us join forces and design some cards. We’d kick ass!!! I know these are pretty attainable goals, however time is something I lack these days with two daughters, so I hope to do this sometime in the near future!
Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?
Well it’s hard to say! I’d say don’t believe everything your instructor’s told you! Read Jeff Fisher’s book… “The Savvy Designer's Guide To Success: Ideas and Tactics for a Killer Career”. It’s an extraordinary introduction into the world of graphic design. Communicate in a professional manner. If you don’t have manners, learn them. Nobody likes cocky designers, know it all designers so check your ego at the door! Be a team player! Have a listening attitude, an “I can do it” attitude… and draw!
What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?
Each of us define good design in many different ways. Of course this might be based on skill level too. I think design is successful when it delivers the message that it’s supposed to. Meaning reaching your audience, appealing visually, and forcing the execution from the customer weather it’s buying, enrolling, emotional connections, etc. I think if your piece executes the purpose that it was intended for, then it’s good design. Good design to me doesn’t always mean “pretty”. Good design happens when the piece is “effective” as a whole.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
As far as burn-out goes, I wish I could avoid it! I don’t think one “can” avoid burn-out. At this very moment I feel burnt-out. I find a way to “get-away”. I step away from that very thing that’s causing the burn-out. Of course sometimes work is deadline driven so you can’t walk away from it, but even if it’s for a 30 minute vacation, you will be much more effective when you return to it after taking that vacation. Now motivation is more so side by side with inspiration. I keep motivated by looking at magazines that inspire me, looking at design pieces from fellow designers that move me… these give me a kick on the butt to get in gear! I journal my ideas and reference them too, my own “creative” to do list.
And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?
I don’t really watch TV right now. However I love Nip Tuck on FX, which we’ll be starting back up next week… that’s the only one thing I watch. I use to watch Battlestar Gallactica on the Sci-Fi Channel but once the season started I got bored with it. I have the hardest time sitting still, so that explains my inability to watch TV for long periods of time. I’m more of a DVD movie watcher too.
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