Alumni Update: Interview with BGSUGD Michelle Henry
BGSU also features Michelle’s travels in this wonderful post.
What advice would you give for students currently in the program?
I would advise current design students to go outside of their disciplines to find inspiration. In college, I took as many extracurricular classes as possible in photography, architecture, and computer science and found it extremely helpful to enhance my skillset and begin to see things from a different point of view.
Why did you choose BGSU to study design?
I chose BGSU because of the highly recognized and respected School of Art. I was even more attracted to the small class sizes and the reputation of the professors teaching the design and fine art courses. Also, I knew that I wanted to attend a school that offered the opportunity to study abroad and was able to do that with BG’s sister school, SACI, in Florence, Italy.
What inspires you as a graphic designer?
I am inspired by my environment, typography, architecture, light and color, food, and technology.
In your travels thus far, what city or culture would you say inspired your designs the most and why?
I found the vibrant colors of Mexico City, Mexico and the simplicity and efficiency of Kyoto, Japan to be the most enlivening. I am attracted to bold typography and colors along with minimalism and these two beautiful cultures are a perfect mixture of both.
What is the most challenging thing for you to overcome as a designer working abroad?
Being remote from my team, it has been a challenge at times to collaborate organically on projects. Most ideas aren’t always scheduled and since my calls and meetings are all online, it doesn’t leave much room for creative in-person collaboration. Since my role involves me overseeing photographers and other designers, it also can become cumbersome to fly back and forth for critical on-site meetings and photoshoots.
What exciting things have you been working on lately?
I work in-house for a top engineering school at a university. On paper, it probably doesn’t sound too interesting, but to me, it’s one of the biggest challenges of my career. I approach every piece of content with the goal of finding the most engaging and effective way to tell a story to excite non-engineers (anyone with an ounce of human curiosity about what’s next for the human race) to feel excited about engineering in general and also what this school is doing. I pride myself in making engineers look as cool as they are because they are the ones changing the world. In this role, I also get to speak to issues and topics that feel vital to our everyday lives.
Tell me about your experience working remotely. How do you manage your time completing bucket list items between work deadlines?
I organize and plan my days in advance in order to manage a healthy work-life balance. I have to make the effort to complete deadlines on-time and overlap different time zones hours with my team members every day, even with the constant distraction of being in a new environment. On the flip side, I also practice unplugging and recharging to maintain balance. Luckily, my boss and team is extremely flexible and that has allowed me to work in cafés and coworking spaces around the world.
How will working abroad affect your future career path? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I want to continue to travel and work abroad in whatever capacity that presents itself. I think the future of work will be more remote friendly and lead to multiple opportunities for others to do what I do.
What advice would you give to future designers that are considering studying or working abroad?
Take a chance and go for it. You will gain valuable insight abroad that can’t be taught in a classroom or career. I also believe that designers need to start thinking and working together on a global level to begin to solve some of the big issues in today’s society.
The exposure to different cultures and allowing myself to get to know how people think, communicate, and feel in different countries has been life-changing. And learning the differences in visual communication between the USA and the rest of the world has helped me become a better designer overall.
Going outside of my comfort zone allowed me to see where I was once before much more clearly. Design is a way of communication and problem solving so understanding these cultural matters, customs, and behaviors of people is a priceless strength that I gained.
Check out more of Michelle Henry’s Adventure as she continues to travel abroad here: http://www.sheworksabroad.com/how-michelle-persuaded-work-to-support-her-extraordinary-year-abroad/
Interviewed by: Lauren Henderson