This is an entry in a series introducing LVA employees and exploring what they do day-to-day. If you are interested in what goes on behind the scenes entries in this series are collected under the tag 7 Questions. Other entries discussing the internal work of the Library of Virginia are filed under our new category “The Stacks”.
What is your background?
I graduated from Simmons College in Boston with a BA in Graphic Design. My parents were living in Williamsburg and I moved there to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I scored a job as a personal assistant to musician Bruce Hornsby and his wife for that year, and then moved to NYC to live with some friends and start my design career. I worked at RCA Records designing album packaging for many jazz musicians, some R&B groups, the WuTang Clan, and some Dave Matthews-esque bands. This was the early 90s so we even did 12” vinyl jackets and the old CD long boxes if anyone remembers those! After 4 years of fun (maybe too much fun), I took a job as an art director at L’Oréal working on their haircare brands for 2 years. A very different, very corporate, very French environment.
New York was amazing, but never felt like home (and I thought living beyond my means for 6 years was enough) so I moved to Richmond (at the suggestion of my brother who had gone to UR). I got a job at the 1717 Design Group, an exhibition design firm, located at the time in Shockoe Bottom. While on staff, I designed all of the graphics in the NCAA Hall of Champions in Indianapolis, interpretive and wayfinding signage at the Colonial Williamsburg visitor center and their hotels, and the graphics at the top of the Washington Monument when it was restored in 2000. A friend from 1717 (Sarah Falls) took a job at the Library, and she invited me for lunch at the original cafe Sweetpeas (I still miss that tomato soup). She told me about the job opening for an additional graphic designer. It was perfect timing — I was about to get married, and was ready for a change. This was in 2001, and I am still here almost 20 years later!
How do you explain what you do to others?
I like to say that I make information easier to digest.
Have you held other positions at the Library? If so, what?
I was hired by the LVA’s original designer, but I think we were both just called graphic designers then.
How has technology affected your current job?
Immensely and constantly. When I was in college and had my first internship at an advertising agency, we just barely worked on Macs. We did a lot by hand — using stat machines, and ordering type, and gluing/waxing columns of text down! Old school. Up until the early 2000s Quark was the software of choice for designers, and then when I was at the Library we made the switch to InDesign. Technology makes what we do quicker, easier, and it changes all the time. It’s hard to keep up.
Describe your best day at the Library of Virginia.
I love when one of our exhibitions opens, or a big piece comes in from the printer — like Broadside or our strategic plan. That never gets old. And it’s been very fun to collaborate with other creative people over the years on exhibition graphics, illustrations for projects like To Collect, Protect, and Serve, and also the [The Virginia] shop layout and LVA logo design. It’s been a long time since I’ve designed a book, but I really enjoyed working on the Capitol, State Art, and [Leslie Garland] Bolling exhibition books.
What was your first paid job?
I babysat and worked in retail. But my most fun early job experience was working concessions with my college friends at Fenway Park. We worked all the home games for 3 seasons, slinging Fenway Franks, nachos, popcorn, peanuts, etc. We made $40 a game + tips. It was a total blast. The Red Sox were not great at the time but made me a fan for life.
What would people be surprised to find out about you?
That I’ve learned to love camping! In a tent! In the great outdoors!