It’s no secret that Central Pennsylvania’s graphic designers are all different in their own ways, some coming from a design background, others pulling their love of fine art into what they do. The latter is this week’s featured designer, Chris Corrao. This Millersville University grad is currently the sole creative & interactive designer for Willow Valley Communities.
How long have you been in the field?
I have been in the field professionally for three years, but I freelanced during college and was the Web Manager at Millersville University during my senior year. I am also a fine artist and have been exhibiting my work in Central Pennsylvania since 2005.
Where did you go to school/what for?
I went to Millersville University. I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a focus on Graphic & Interactive Design. I also studied printmaking, sculpture, and non-traditional photography.
How long have you been an AIGA member?
This is my second year as a member.
What important milestones do you credit to getting to where you are now?
This question is a little hard for me to answer. While there has definitely been some bigger moments in my life as an artist, I tend to believe that life, including my career, is driven more by small actions and decisions. Every day I am building my career and portfolio. Everything I do leads to the next moment. Sometimes those moments are bigger than others, but it is all significant in terms of where I have gone in my career so far.
Why Central Pennsylvania?
It is a great place to be as a young artist. There is a lot happening, and there is a great arts culture in Lancaster. I have had a lot of opportunities as both a graphic designer and a fine artist in this area.
What advice do you have for students?
School won’t teach you everything. You need to be proactive while you are in school to learn as much as you can and to create opportunities for yourself. Being the Web Manager at Millersville University during my last year of school gave me a little bit of a leg up when I graduated. I had some experience to point to when I started applying for jobs. Freelancing while in school is also a great way to gain experience working with clients and build up your portfolio.
I recently read Shatner Rules by William Shatner (Captain Kirk from Star Trek), and a great piece advice he repeats throughout the book is to never say no to an opportunity. While I sometimes fail to follow this advice, I try my best to take every opportunity that is presented to me. Doing so has helped me to build a network, which in turn has led to more exhibitions and freelance projects.
I’m not sure how to answer this without a cliché. My interest in the art world started strictly as a passion for fine art. I used to discount graphic design thinking it was just about propaganda, but then I discovered Photoshop in high school, and I was hooked. I was playing in bands at the time and immediately took on the role of designing my bands’ logos and flyers. During my senior year of high school, I took a commercial art class and knew that design was what I wanted to do with my life.
I view my design work as an extension of my fine art, which I exhibit regularly, so to me, I am doing exactly what I wanted—making a living as an artist. There’s really nothing I would rather do. Making your living as a creative is really amazing.
Favorite part of the job?
My favorite part is finding a project that gets me really excited and getting totally lost in it. I love putting on some music, shutting my door, and emerging a couple of hours later knowing that I really got into a special place. It’s an incredible feeling to connect with my creativity on a level that deep. It’s hard to describe the sensation but coming out of that place feels a little like waking up from a deep sleep and not knowing how much time has passed.
Why should someone be an AIGA member? How has it benefited you?
The best benefit to me has been being part of a wonderful and supportive community. I am the only artist at my company, so sometimes I miss having other designers around with which to discuss ideas. AIGA is a great place to connect with other creatives.
Know a local designer who could use some recognition? Nominate a member to be a Feature Friday designer by emailing Bri their name, company and contact information.