What is Portland Design Co.?
Portland Design Co. is an independent, woman-owned design studio in Portland, Maine. We specialize in branding/identity development, websites, illustration and other design collateral.
What inspired you to become a Graphic Designer?
Interestingly enough, when I was in art school in the late 90's, I saw graphic design as "cheating" by using a computer to make art. At the time, I was focused on sculpture and photography. I liked using my hands but wasn't really connecting wither either of those mediums. After my second year of college, I decided to take a break (which ended up lasting 9 years). During that time I started messing around with design for fun- it was a way to be artistic without needing to rent a painting or sculpture studio or a photography dark room (back when we still used film). I was part of a Drag King troupe that often needed show posters designed which then led me to fall in love with design. So much so, that I decided to go back to school in 2009 to get a BFA in Graphic Design at Maine College of Art. I still get to make art off the computer as part of this job, which is some of my favorite work.
What do you like to do outside of work that directly impacts your career as an artist?
As an artist, everything I do influences my art/work. Everything you see and do can be an inspiration in some way. Outside of work, I take hip hop dance lessons, I compete in triathlons,
dabble in archery, I co-own another business that makes handmade bow ties and neck ties, I mentor a Burundian refugee, I give private art lessons to young kids, and I'm about to start managing an Air BnB property. I also consistently look for ways to better myself as a human, growing and refining the best version of myself I can be. THAT is hard work! I find that if I'm bored, my work reflects that. So I stay real, real busy :)
What are one challenge and one lesson you've learned from your experience as a founder?
It takes several years to get a business off the ground to a point where it can sustain itself. Most important lesson is to not give up, no matter how hard it gets, or how much you're struggling. If you believe in your mission or your idea, it matters and it deserves everything you have. Once the business gets to a place where it can survive without 100% of your attention, that doesn't mean take more vacations. It means to get more involved, do more, help others, use your skills and knowledge to influence and inspire other people. And find some things that you love to do for fun. It's important to feed your own fires as well.
How important is having a daily routine?
Critical. At the beginning–and even now–if I don't have much to do, I still get here at 7:30 am and don't leave until all work is complete and all emails are responded to. My clients put a lot of faith and trust in me to help them make their dreams come true, and I love that relationship that we form. If I'm out messing around and taking half days all the time, It doesn't serve either of us. That said, I do treat myself to some afternoons off if my plate is clear and the weather is nice. Creativity isn't something you can force. If you're having an off day, go do something inspiring to get your fire sparked. Sometimes I'll take my bike on a ferry and bike around an island in Casco Bay. That costs about $14 and changes my entire perspective. 150% ROI.
What are your proudest accomplishments both personal and career?
Career-wise, I'm proud to own a thriving business in Portland, as a queer, independent woman-owned business where I'm now competing with top agencies that have 10-300+ employees. Personally, I'm proud to have completed two triathlons from which I raised over $13,000 for Maine Cancer Foundation in the memory of my father.
What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote?
I have two, and unfortunately, I don't know where they originated.
The first one is: The secret to having it all is knowing you already do.
The second one is:
1. This is awesome.
2. This is tricky.
3. This is shit.
4. I am shit.
5. This might be ok.
6. This is awesome.
In one word describe yourself: