With past stints at Cartoon Network, Wired Magazine, and other big brands, multimedia designer Carrie Hawks brings a wealth of experience to the design industry. I talked with Carrie about how she got into design, what she’s learned along the way, and one of her current projects — a documentary! Check it out!
Tell us who you are and what you do.
My name is Carrie Hawks. I’m a multimedia designer and artist working in motion graphics, interactive design, web and video.
How did you get started with design?
I was thinking about becoming a librarian and interviewing different librarians in the public, private, and museum settings. I noticed a reading campaign poster hung on a cubicle wall and thought that I’d be more interested in making something like that. So I looked up design careers on the US Employment job description website. I enrolled in an introduction to design class at Georgia State University and after the first semester, I was hooked. My first degree is in art history/visual art, so I had a great art background studying things like composition, use of color, and drawing. I loved the idea that I could use my creativity and get paid for it.
You’ve worked with some huge creative brands: Cartoon Network, Wired Magazine, Oxygen Media — what was it like doing work for these companies, and what did you learn?
Cartoon Network was so fun! I did an internship there while in school. I learned a lot about designing for kids, the beauty of drop shadows, and having even more fun with type. People there were extremely helpful, explaining file structures and optimization. It was a great learning experience.
Wired showed me how a major publication comes together. I worked alongside the marketing team as they collaborated with major brands. Putting on large events was an adrenaline rush and also a lot of long hours, but it was very rewarding when executed properly. I definitely learned the importance of double-checking your work, the copy (proofing for errors), and how to budget my time better. Keeping calm and kind in stressful situations makes things go much smoother.
What projects are you working on now?
I’ve just started working for Al Jazeera America, focusing on broadcast design. I’m also working on my own documentary.
That’s right: I believe it’s called ‘Why You So Light?” Tell us a little bit about it.
My animated documemoir uses a playful approach to heavier questions of identity, difference, and self-acceptance. Animations are mixed with interviews, archival photographs, and a strong dose of humor that take you on my family’s search for identity. Do I have to conform to the dominant Black culture or risk losing my Black card? You can see some clips of it here and keep up with developments via my blog.
What’s a typical day like for you?
There isn’t one really. At my job now, I’m creating mood boards and picking out furniture for an Internet series. At my last freelance assignment, we would have morning meetings with the creative director and go over the hot projects for the day. Whenever there was a moment of downtime, I’d go back to one of the longer term assignments like creating a new website layout. I’d say the only consistency between any job is that I’ll work on some things with a longer deadline, and when an urgent need comes up, I jump to that.
How do you keep motivated and inspired?
I look at a lot of great design and attend design/art events. Some of my favorite blogs are Motionographer, Colossal, and Kiss My Black Ads. I love going to museums and galleries, and I sometimes attend designer/artist talks by AIGA or other groups.
What is one industry trend that you wish would go away?
The idea that making a Facebook page is all you need to have a social campaign.
What advice would you give out to someone just starting out in web design?
Look at great websites (FWA helps). Work on organizing type and information hierarchy. Design a website (for yourself and for other organizations)! I worked with TapRoot, a non-profit organization that helps other non-profits with branding. It helps when the project is organized. If you’re freelancing on your own, draw up a contract.
If you could choose any space in the world and create a design for it, where would it be and what would you make?
It would be a big dance space in Brooklyn. Finished solid wood floors, two blue walls with glitter embedded, one glass garage wall that can be lifted for open air ventilation or left shut for sunlight. It would also have a mural wall that would be updated every few months by a different artist, and a stage at the front and rigging from the ceiling for aerial silk performances.
About Carrie: Carrie Hawks is multimedia designer and artist working in motion graphics, interactive design, web, and video. You can check out more of her work at maroonhorizon and keep up with her at her blog carrie hawks: art and craft.