Alumni Update: Interview with Ashley Vetter
Owner and Designer at Ashley Vetter Design/ Degree in Visual Communication Technology/ Minor in Marketing
Ashley Vetter has stepped intosome pretty major shoes since her time at BGSU. After working for 10 years at Communica in Downtown Toledo she decided to start her own design company, her mounting success is only coupled by her dedication to quality design solutions and maintaining excellent relationships. We got a chance to catch up with Ashley for an insightful interview.
For more information about Ashley Vetter’s work visit www.ashleyvetter.com
Tell me a little bit about yourself
I enjoy the art of figuring out creative solutions. Whether it is a complex website, a folder that needs to have multiple applications or a television spot, I love the challenge of finding a great result that fulfills a need for good creative but also the client’s expectations. Awarded Gold, Silver, and Bronze Addy Awards, a 20 Under 40 nominee, and multiple time Graphis Award winner, my work includes designing and art directing for clients such as Masco Cabinetry/KraftMaid, Cooper Tire, Hercules Tire, The Toledo Zoo, Auria, Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, Rudolph Libbe Group, IAC, Automotive News and BASF, among many others.
In the community, I am actively involved in the Wood County 4-H Program as a volunteer, Beaver Creek Boosters 4-H Club Advisor, and board member of the Wood County 4-H Committee and Wood County Clover Legacy Committee. I have also recently become a trustee for the Bowling Green Community Foundation. Through my community involvement, I have been recognized with two Outstanding Service to 4-H Awards as well as the highest honor, the 5th H Award, awarded to those who go above and beyond the call of volunteers.
I am a past board member and event chair for AIGA Toledo and was on the initial executive team for the United Way Emerging Leaders Affinity Group. I also enjoy spending time with my two children, helping with my husband’s family farm, camping, working out, making pottery, and photography.
What year did you graduate BGSU? Is your degree a BFA in graphic design?
I graduated from BGSU in 2006 with a degree in Visual Communication Technology and a minor in Marketing. Even though I was a VCT major, I took quite a few BFA graphic design classes thanks to Jenn Stucker’s help and encouragement.
What advice would you give for students currently in the program?
Start building your network while working in the field you are studying. Because I was a VCT major, I had to work full-time in cooperative education assignments for three semesters. I worked in Owens Community College’s marketing department and did two semesters at Hart. The co-op connections I made at Owens led to the co-op at Hart. The co-op at Hart has led to knowing creatives that have moved on all over the Toledo area. Also, do any work that isn’t required of you outside of class. I worked for a small advertising agency part-time and worked for the BGNews, receiving no class credit but acquiring lots of on-the-job experience. If you work hard and learn everything you can, all that experience and all those connections will be fundamental in the success of your career. I also feel the need to point out that the first semester I applied for a co-op, I wasn’t hired. I did a lot of interviews and didn’t get a single offer. I ended up doing my first semester for credit in the Fall, which wasn’t my ideal plan, but there were fewer people vying for internships and I was able to get into Owens. I was disappointed and thought I wasn’t going to be a good designer. I was also motivated to work harder and grew a great deal both professionally and personally during that semester.
Why did you choose BGSU to study design?
I went to high school at a small school near Bowling Green and really enjoyed my yearbook class. I didn’t know that graphic design was even a career path and probably would have gone into art education. However, my yearbook advisor noticed my interest and was a friend of Chuck Spontelli, who was eventually one of my professors in the VCT program. I got to tour the technology building, see a two-color press run while on my tour, and was hooked.
Have you found this transition of becoming a solo designer rewarding?
I am so happy with my decision to pursue a solo design career. The work I am doing is very rewarding and my clients are so appreciative. We are able to work one-on-one to get the final result right. I am also able to tap into my network of marketing professionals that I have built over the years and truly make work using the best abilities of these colleagues who are also good friends.
Why did you make the decision to become a solo designer? Has this been challenging?
The challenge came in leaving a secure job where I had spent so much time and had wonderful opportunities. There are lots of designers who would love the opportunity to work at Communica and I am forever indebted to the knowledge I gained there. My decision to go solo is what is best for me and my family at this time in my life.
What does your day look like as a solo designer?
I get to get my kids on the bus in the morning! You know how big of a deal that is if you have kids. Once they are off to school, my day is much like it was while working at an agency. I go through my emails and to do list and prioritize what needs to be done for the day. This could include design work, following up with clients, getting print quotes, estimating new projects, going to meetings, doing timesheet and/or billing or any assortment of these tasks. I like to keep my hours between 9:00-5:00 but sometimes work earlier or later in the day depending on my schedule.
How do you find your clients?
So far, most of my clients have come word of mouth from my network of professionals and friends. If I were starting out on my own when I first left college, I would not have had the experience nor the network I have built in order to do the work I am doing. I’ve been building this opportunity for many years through hard work and being accountable and trustworthy.
What kind of work do you do?
I love any and all design work and integrating my ability as a designer into all forms of marketing and media. On my website, I use the line “Design affects everything” and if you look around, the things that people gravitate toward, enjoy using, etc are all well designed.
A snapshot of my current workload as of this moment is a user interface design for a website, a brochure design, a poster, editing social media photos and creating content, creating the concept and design for a campaign that includes digital, animated and print components, responding to an RFP, and a Christmas card. This is for clients that range from healthcare to retail to automotive.
Which type of work do you enjoy the most?
Lately, I’ve really started to enjoy designing user interfaces for web and the challenges that responsive design poses. But, anything that has a problem to solve or a tricky solution is the most fun and rewarding work once you get that solution. And, enjoying the journey as you get to it.
Where would you like to be in your career five years from now?
In five years, I hope to have a dedicated group of colleagues who I am able to collaborate with from the view of a creative and we’ll be creating great work for a diverse set of clients. Part of that goal and client base will be finding a few or more clients in the field of agriculture to marry my interests in both design and promoting the agriculture industry in a positive light, from the perspective of someone who lives in both worlds.
Interviewed by: Harmony Ross