January 23, 2017

Jennifer Mulvihill

How did you become a designer ?

I have always wanted to be a designer. In high school, I hopped on a train with a friend and we traveled to an art school in the city to check out their open house. Once I saw the price tag of the program, my dreams felt a little less obtainable. I wanted to get my foot in the door doing something related to design, so in the meantime, I found a local custom furniture company who had a great interior design training program for their sales team. I worked as an interior designer for about a year and left to start bartending in order to pay for my dream school. I was hoping to double major in Graphic Design and Interior Architecture. A year and a half into the program, I was swimming in debt and had to leave. I continued to work and years later, I was finally able to return to school. My friends kept encouraging me to go back to design, but I thought that ship had financially sailed. My husband introduced me to a very talented designer who told me about their experience at The Chicago Portfolio School in Chicago. After looking into the program and realizing I could start building a solid foundation in design over the span of a year, I was sold! All of the instructors at The Chicago Portfolio School are passionate about their work and are able to inspire students to complete an extensive amount of work in a relatively short period of time. 
I realize not everyone gets a second chance to fulfill a life dream and work in a career that they love, so I feel incredibly fortunate to have had that opportunity and I feel as though I made the most of my time there. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

How would you define your vision of design, your style ?

My style tends to be more on the minimalist side. I love clean design, but I can really appreciate other work that is much more intricate or ornate.

For the future, what are your professional projects ?

I received an unexpected amount of attention from a few conceptual projects featured on my website and other design networks. Since then, I have been approached by several companies about some interesting design work including packaging and UX design. As opportunities present themselves, I will have to balance selecting projects that I know I can do well and others that will be a bit more challenging and that I can learn from.

What do you like most in your job ?

Collaboration with other designers and mentors that I can learn from is something that keeps me inspired every day. No matter how long you have been designing things, I am finding that there is always more to learn and that is super exciting to me. I love to surround myself with others that bring different things to the table, whether that be a method for concept development or specific techniques on illustrating something. 
As a Designer, you have to be prepared to constantly be in conversations about the value of design. A lot of people view it as magic and the conversation doesn’t go very far, and that’s ok!
But when you really get through to certain people and it starts “clicking”, this could be one of the most fulfilling parts of being in design. Whether it be friends, family members or clients, watching someone’s curiosity grow about design or being able to leave them with a nugget or two makes me happy. Each time this happens, it feels like I am somehow representing a larger group of people and becoming an advocate for a practice that I have always loved. This is something that I did not see coming at all. 
At the end of the day, seeing my work out in the world is also extremely rewarding, whether it be passing by someone wearing a t-shirt that I designed or seeing one of my logos pop up in a social media feed. I think every designer can relate to this feeling regardless of what kind of design they create.
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