The idea behind Monsters vs Me, is that it’s a platform for our contributors to write about what they are passionate about, but that doesn’t mean it should stop there. I also love to feature passionate people. Last week I sat down with a good friend, and amazing graphic designer, Chelsie Pouliot.
I’ve got to know Chelsie fairly well over the last couple years and I have seen her growth as a designer. She has an extremely bright future in this industry and I’m excited to see where she will end up. She is very passionate about design and I have been trying to meet for an interview for a while now, and just recently our schedules finally aligned.
Jay – Introduce yourself, where youâ€™re from and besides graphic design, what do you enjoy doing?
Chelsie – Iâ€™m Chelsie Pouliot, from Stoney Creek, Ontario . I really enjoy drawing and painting, which is what lead me to graphic design in the first place. But when Iâ€™m not being creative, I enjoy spending time with my family, hanging out with my girlfriends, laughing with my boyfriend, watching movies, flipping though endless fashion magazines, catching up on my favorite blogs, eating way to much food, and craving summer heat.
Jay – Did you take graphic design in school? And if so, where?
Chelsie – Yes, I graduated with an advanced diploma from Humber College after studying for three years.
Jay – I know a lot of people in the creative field that didn’t go to school for their current endeavor. Do you feel school was an advantage for you?
Chelsie – On a personal level, absolutely. I feel like I learned so much from my profs and my peers while attending school, and it has definitely established great relationships whether it be for networking or merely friendship. Attending school really helped develop my self-confidence, not only in my design skills and creative abilities, but also on a personal level too. It really matured me, especially being in an environment where I had to deal with challenges on my own, whether theyâ€™d be design related or personal. Iâ€™m definitely an awkward and reserved person but school really helped push my boundaries. Iâ€™m more confident, and motivated and more determined than ever.
Jay – It sounds like school was a very positive experience and definitely had a role in developing the person and creative artist that you have become today. Were there any negative experiences and how did you turn them into a positive?
Chelsie – Yes, there were definitely some experiences that were far from positive. Group work always has its challenges. Being in the design world, opinions vary and people butt heads, but at the end of the day, you learn from those experiences, you learn how to communicate more effectively and communication is key when it comes to design so, at the end of the day it makes you a better designer.
After school, I also came to realize that when I would showcase my portfolio, I caught myself describing the majority of my work as â€œfree-range.â€ Most of my favorite pieces in my book were those in which I had creative freedom. And I know that wouldnâ€™t normally be seen as a negative thing, but I wish I had been given more restrictions to see if I could still design something effectively given particular limitations and confines. In a way, this experience has turned out positive because it allowed me to create work for my portfolio that I was pleased with and enjoy showing off to other clients and potential employers.
Jay – Ok, so you’ve graduated…. now what?
Chelsie – Upon graduation, I decided to take on freelance. Personally, itâ€™s been a terrific experience; Iâ€™ve worked with some great people and formed friendships. Iâ€™ve had the pleasure of working with Brooks Reynolds, and the lovely ladies from Beaux-Mondes, Jacklyn Warmington and Stephanie Trendocher, and the list goes on. Of course freelance has its challenges, but really, who can complain working from home? Well I guess Iâ€™m about toâ€¦ Iâ€™ve been doing freelance for about a year now, and itâ€™s been both challenging and rewarding. However, I came to a point where I felt I wasnâ€™t learning anymore on my own, at least, not to my full potential. I was really craving a different atmosphere and environment, and I really wanted to challenge myself. So, I began the infamous job hunt and Iâ€™m glad to say that Iâ€™ve recently started a contract position with a terrific firm, and I couldnâ€™t be happier. Iâ€™m learning from their creative team, and it will help further my design skills and creative ability. My goal for 2011 is to try and experience design to itâ€™s fullest. Iâ€™m forever seeking new design experiences, and canâ€™t wait to see what I get into next.
Jay – How has working a full time position effected your free lance work and/or are you still doing free lance work?
Chelsie – I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ll ever stop doing freelance. Iâ€™m still accepting work. Working a fulltime position has definitely challenged me to be even more organized. My schedule is down packed and my to-do-list has become very specific with stricter deadlines. Working 9-5 is difficult sometimes. I have a client in the UK and my Skype conference calls have become more of a challenge due to time differences. But other then that, itâ€™s pretty manageable. Itâ€™s all about organizing my time out of the office so that I can be as productive as I need to be in order to succeed and take on as much business as possible.
Jay – When did you realize you had a passion for graphic design?
Chelsie – This is actually pretty funny, because I didnâ€™t really realize it until the end of my first year of College. When I was applying to schools for graphic design programs back in high school, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had close to no experience in Photoshop, I didnâ€™t even know what typography was, and I had never even used a Mac computer before. All I knew was that I enjoyed drawing, and painting, and I couldnâ€™t wait for my next art class. And to think that I took biology, chemistry, physics and trigonometry because I had no idea what path I was going to choose come graduation. It was pretty clear to me during the summer after my first year at Humber. All I wanted to do was â€œtalk designâ€. My family thought I was crazy because Iâ€™d spend all day naming fonts used in magazines and laughing at spacing issues on billboard headlines or critiquing awful logos while watching tv. It was just non-stop. My brain had evolved to this design-infected monster and it was awesome.
Jay – Where do you see the industry headed?
Chelsie – Well it has become quite obvious that everything has gone interactive. Everyone has become addicted to the web and everything is mobile and user friendly. Thereâ€™s an app for just about everything these days, and you know â€¦thatâ€™s great. Personally, Iâ€™m a print lover at heart. Even though Iâ€™m quite technology savvy, donâ€™t get me wrong, Iâ€™m all about my iPhone, but thereâ€™s nothing better than opening a crisp new book, or the smell of a magazine while you flip though endless amounts of pages or touching a beautifully smooth paper stock from a wedding invitation or thank you card. Experiencing design on a personal level like that, thatâ€™s what I love, and I hope the industry doesnâ€™t ever get rid of that special feeling.
Jay – Everyone needs to start somewhere. What’s your opinion on doing work for free?
Chelsie – To be honest, I havenâ€™t done much of anything for free. Not to say that I wouldnâ€™t consider it, given the right circumstance. Sometimes you help someone out, and in exchange they promote you and your work. I understand that everyone needs to start somewhere. Itâ€™s a difficult industry to get started in. Everyone is looking for designers with +3-5 years experience, but where and how are you get that experience if no one is willing to give you a try? When it comes to free work, thereâ€™s a difference between: You offering to do work for free because you want to prove your abilities. â€“VS.â€“ Someone whoâ€™s asking for free work, or expects a discounted price. I feel strongly about knowing what youâ€™re worth. Thereâ€™s a reason why someone is coming to you in the first place, they appreciate your work, and if theyâ€™re not willing to compensate you for it, then move on to the next. Never devalue yourself.
Jay – I know with photography, there have been numerous occasions where I have said no to a client because they wanted to pay way less than my rates or I didn’t feel comfortable with the job they wanted done. Have you ever turned down a client?
Chelsie – Yes, definitely. Iâ€™ve gotten many inquiries about website design, and even though I did design and create my own website, I donâ€™t specialize in web or interactive. Iâ€™ve had experience in it, but itâ€™s definitely not my strongest capability when it comes to my design skills. I wouldnâ€™t feel comfortable offering someone a service I wasnâ€™t completely confident in executing. And when it comes to rates, like I had mentioned, never devalue yourself. As a designer, you work hard, and you should be compensated for it accordingly. If you cheapen yourself, youâ€™re just allowing others think of you as cheap. And no one wants to have â€œcheapâ€ tied to their reputation. Why work with someone who doesnâ€™t believe in your value? If your potential client doesnâ€™t agree with what you think youâ€™re worth, then they can go to elsewhere, but at least you know youâ€™re not selling yourself short.
Jay – Favorite font?
Chelsie – DIN, no wait Gotham, No, no, DIN. Yeah, DIN.
Jay – Are you big into social networking?
Chelsie – Absolutely. Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Aim, Tumblrâ€¦ the list goes on.
Jay – How has social networking affected you as a graphic designer and do you see it as a necessity being in the industry?
Chelsie – Social networking has definitely helped promote my work. Most of my inquiries have been through Facebook and Twitter. I follow design firms and designers, so I know whatâ€™s going on in the industry, whoâ€™s hiring, whoâ€™s working with who, and whatâ€™s being done. Iâ€™m not sure itâ€™s a necessity per say, but itâ€™s great for keeping up.
Jay – Tell us a bit about your work and where can people find it online?
Chelsie – So far Iâ€™ve specialized in corporate branding and identity, print, editorial and package design. Iâ€™ve done things such as logos, stationary; business cards and folders, letterheads, envelopes, I also do brochures, flyers, posters, wedding invitations etc. My style has been described to me as very clean; I push to keep it minimal, very fresh and sophisticated. I would love to be able to push my style soon and try something completely out of my comfort zone. My work and online portfolio can be viewed at www.chelsiepouliot.com
Jay -Thanks for taking the time to chat with me Chelsie. One final question…. When you were a kid, were you afraid of the monsters under your bed?
Chelsie – If by monster you mean a stuffed toy clown,â€¦and by under my bed you mean swinging on a swing from my ceiling, then yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Here a couple of pieces that Chelise has designed.
Remember to check out her website for a full portfolio: www.chelsiepouliot.com