Feature Friday: Laurel Webster

Almost everyone we feature on our blog is a member of the community, but this week we decided to switch it up a bit and introduce you to someone near and dear to our chapter leadership’s heart: Laurel! Laurel is the president of AIGA Blue Ridge, our sister chapter to the south! AIGA Blue Ridge serves the western Maryland, northwestern Virginia and entire West Virginia areas, with a home base in Frederick, Maryland. Each year they invite students and recent grads to participate in Flux, an annual design competition, that draws thousands of entries from across the country. Laurel is also the founder & art director of native design + brand communications.

laurel webster

How long have you been in the field?
10 years…wow. Yeah, ten years now!

Where did you go to school/what for?
I originally started as a double major of Graphic Design and Piano Performance at California Baptist University. After two years of far too little sleep between late night practicing, printing, and creating mock-ups, I took a semester off and transferred to California State University, Fullerton, where I completed my BFA in Graphic Design.

How long have you been an AIGA member?
Since 2010.

What important milestones do you credit to getting to where you are now?
Just after graduating high school, I worked full-time as a creative coordinator for smith+noble, putting me in the heart of an in-house creative team. I learned how to manage and produce product photoshoots from beginning to end, and saw first-hand how creative teams schedule and produce a publication. My boss, David Fruge, was continually inspiring and encouraging me in what I did (and still does!). I’m so thankful for the trust David and the team gave me. That job really defined my passion for great design early on.Then, in college, I was asked to be one of the founders for AIGA CSUF student group. That was definitely a big moment. The involvement with the organization from the very beginning has been so vital to my design career. From attending the Y-Conference in San Diego, to creating events for the CSUF student chapter, as well as attending AIGA Orange County and AIGA Los Angeles events, my networking opportunities opened up and client and jobs leads were more readily easy to find. Plus, attending events on topics about how design goes beyond the the sketch book and computer – how it affects peoples lives, communities, and can be a force of positive influence – that inspiration and that education is something I never received in the classroom.

Why AIGA as an organization? Why Blue Ridge?
When I first joined AIGA, it was an active choice to add to my professional career development and pursuits. Over the years, through local and national events, not only have the numerous types of opportunities and grwoth come my way, but I’ve made really good friends from all over the US. It is, in fact, much of the reason why I moved from California to West Virginia – I met my partner at an AIGA National conference! #aigaromance AIGA Blue Ridge is my region’s local chapter, so it was an easy selection.

What advice do you have for new designers?
Curiosity is crucial to what we do. From diving in and understanding a client’s needs, to being curious about our own needs and desires (self branding, marketing, freelancing, business management, etc.). Self supplementing your education before and after graduation, or while looking for new employment, will only better you, and you make you better for the job. Confidence > ego. Find the balance of being confident and humble. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished, but don’t let your ego get in the way. be confident in you and your abilities – this is (it sure as hell better be) your passion – but have the space and the humbleness, to receive criticisms and compliments

Get to work, but not just at the computer. Just get to work. Go for a run, rock out to some tunes, and keep yourself inspired by the other things in life that fuel you. As creators, we have to remember to supplement ourselves. Don’t wait for inspiration to hit you – actively seek it out.

Why Design?
My love for art of all types and form began early in my childhood. I knew I didn’t want to be a “starving artist,” and I didn’t want to make music a career and risk losing my love for it by making it work. Design was the balancing point of my love for art and form, and the means to provide a positive influence in the world around me.

Favorite part of the job?
It depends on the client and the day. The all-encompassing answer though, is the “ah-hah!” moment that comes from solving the problem. When all the research, client meetings, sketches and comps comes together in the symphony of design.

Why should someone be an AIGA member? How has it benefited you?
From my initial choice to join, the organization has given me so much, and instilled me with a desire to give back and share with others an experience similar to my own. The decision to lead as President of AIGA Blue Ridge has been a thrilling ride thus far! Being a leader for our design community and providing opportunities to others – similar to what I experienced when I originally joined – is what it’s all about.

AIGA Blue Ridge have over ten years of excellent history, and adding to the Chapter has been a challenging and fruitful joy. Our mission to provide paths to professional development, education, and inspiration is no easy task. Yet, as a small, energetic Chapter of AIGA, my Board of Directors are making big things happen to ensure that these opportunities are available to our design community. It’s a challenging and extremely fulfilling task, and I’m all the more excited to see what we accomplish during the remaining duration of our term.

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.

By Bri Piccari
Published June 5, 2015
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