Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

“Having Parkland in my background has put me at an advantage against others.”

Katie Davis

Alumni Profile:
Katie Davis


Katie DavisHometown:  Hammond, IL
Year graduated: I graduated from Parkland in 2007 (and Columbia College Chicago in 2009)
Currently working at: KD Design and MKTG, INC (Chicago IL)

How does it feel to be a professional designer:
It feels natural. At a very young age, I was consuming quite a few ink cartridges designing and printing things on the hand-me-down Compaq computer with my free CD-ROM of Creative Writer software. I made everything from signs for my bedroom door to printed dinner menus for weekday family meals. Later, when an art teacher was impressed with something I made in MS Paint he said, “You know Katie, people make careers out of this. It’s called Graphic Design.” At that point my fate was sealed. Now, can’t imagine anything else and am immensely grateful that teacher’s comment.

How do you like your job:
I love what I do. This doesn’t mean it’s easy. The daily ins and outs of the “job” will always be difficult. There’s so much more to what goes into design than designing, both at a large agency and when freelancing. It’s been continually a process to learn that not every client brings a dream project, not every project will be a portfolio piece, and not everyone will have the same project goals as you. Sometimes, after agreeing to work on something you later retreat, you have to put your head down and just get the work done while learning how to be better positioned for the next client who knocks at your door.

How did you get this job:
I’m currently working part-time at my own creative agency, KD Design; and full time as an Art Director and Sr. Designer at a marketing agency called MKTG INC. For myself, I’ve found clients from a variety of ways, mostly word-of-mouth. But surprisingly, one of my best and favorite clients came from responding to a Craigslist ad. I got paired with MKTG also through word-of-mouth. A person I previously worked with recommended going in for an interview for a position she knew was open. I try to always keep my ears open for people who own businesses or work at agencies. They’re bound to need some help sooner or later.

What was the most exciting project you've worked on since graduation:
This is hard. I suppose I’d have to say the Let’s Move: Active Schools launch for Nike and Michelle Obama. Working closely with so many partners—branding agencies, event production, A/V, the secret service—to help design everything needed to make the live event happen was an amazing, exhausting, rewarding feat. Another fun project was creating an iPad app for Aon to help promote new software they were launching at an expo. I worked on everything from concept, wireframing, design, to managing a team of developers through production. I love any opportunity to wear many hats and work with a lot of teams to bring together one final goal.

What do you wish you would have done differently when you were at Parkland:
I don’t think I have any regrets. Parkland offered so much more in real-world training than just teaching how to think creatively or how to use software. Having Parkland in my background has put me at an advantage against others who were not exposed to the business side of design—like how to communicate with clients, charge what your worth, or write a business plan.

What were some of the most important things you learned while at Parkland:
Probably technical functions. Before Parkland, I had never touched actual design software. Knowing how to use the software doesn’t make you a designer, but you can’t be a designer without knowing how to use the software.

Who is your favorite designer and why:
I don’t think I can pick just one. Definitely, always, the great Massimo Vignelli is my number one—but I have to mention Sagmeister & Walsh and everything by James Victore.

What is your favorite typeface and why:
Adobe Caslon Pro. It just works. It pairs perfectly with so many faces. It’s timeless and just freaking beautiful.

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Last updated: 1/8/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young