Gillian Drier

Credentials: Campus Sonar

Position title: Graphic Designer

Major: Art (emphasis in Graphic Design)

Certificate: Digital Studies

Graduation Date: May 2017


How did you end up at Campus Sonar?

In 2016-2017, I was working on my Senior Thesis Graphic Design project. With a lot of support and feedback from my peers and professor, it became a successful project that gained notice from people in Madison. This led to higher-profile freelance work, networking connections, and a more robust portfolio of work which gave me confidence to apply for jobs that I might not have previously considered.

I am where I am today because of the constant support from educators, managers, bosses, freelance clients, and mentors. I worked hard on my portfolio and I learned how to clearly discuss my designs and articulate my views as a designer. I was provided safe environments where it was okay to fail, and was allowed to take chances in my work, which paid off. And now I’m working in the best work environment that I’ve experienced to date; one that values communication, creative growth, and trust amongst all team members.

What does a typical day in the office look like for you?

I’m fairly new to my role at Campus Sonar and I’m the first graphic designer they’ve hired. Right now, I spend a lot of my day developing our brand and sharing it across multiple platforms including web, social media, print, and client deliverables. My daily work includes meeting with the Marketing and Business Development teams to share and discuss ideas for campaigns, clients, and continuous changes for our company. On any given day I could be designing custom brand iconography, animations, video advertisements, client presentations, booklets and other company resources, swag, redesigning our website, and more.

How has Digital Studies influenced your career path?

Before I completed the Digital Studies certificate, I had no experience working with animation software. Through the certificate I was able to take two entry-level animation and videography courses. This gave me a competitive edge and was one of the reasons that my portfolio was selected for second round interviews and ultimately contributed to me getting my current position.

Did you have a favorite Digital Studies class?

One of my favorite courses from the program was Library & Information Studies 202: Informational Divides and Differences in a Multicultural Society taught by Prof. Rebekah Willet. As a black designer, a major part of my design lens is how we can create design accessible to any and all populations. This course provided context on how different societies and populations access information and technology. This course, paired with my design history education, allowed me to reevaluate how I designed, and taught me that there were better options than what I had previously employed in my design work. It ultimately made me a better designer.

Do you have any advice for current students?

For the designers and creatives: Spend intentional time in developing your principles. Who are you as a designer? What do you want to accomplish? Where do you want to go and why? Always be your authentic self. I learned that once I clarified my personal vision, and stopped looking at others’ journeys for inspiration, my personal design aesthetic emerged more clearly and I felt more secure in choosing only the jobs and clients that I wanted. Remember, people will value you for the unique perspective that you bring to the table.

For everyone: Continue your education. It doesn’t have to be at a school or university, but you can’t stop learning the tools of your trade. Attend conferences in your field (ask your employer to support your education and pay for these events). Go to networking events and socials. Attend local discussions or happy hours. Subscribe to online educational resources. Follow the right people on social media. Follow digital media and platforms that share current updates in your industry. There are a plethora of resources out there and using them is a great idea!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career thus far?

I’m proud of the positive feedback that I have received from all of my previous employers. I left each company and was able to make a lasting impact on their brand and design strategies. At three years into my career, I didn’t think that I would have Lead Designer roles and be developing brands for large companies. But I’m eternally grateful to the employers who gave me a chance to succeed in my roles. I feel confident as a designer and as a person, and I’m looking forward to continuing my design journey.