Alumni Update: Interview with Lindsey Rutter
Graphic Design BFA w/ minor in Marketing (2009)
Senior Visual Designer at NetJets | Freelancer | lindseyrutter.com
Alumni Lindsey Rutter has been hard at work becoming the passionate designer she knew she would be. Working in Columbus, Ohio and freelancing on the side, her work can be seen in multiple mediums from web design and packaging to brand identity. Her dedication to quality design shines through everything she’s worked on. We got a chance to catch up with Lindsey for an exclusive interview.
Why did you become a graphic designer? Why did you choose BGSU?
I’m one of those unusual people who has always known what I wanted to do when I grew up. I’ve always been artistic. I’m not really happy unless I’m getting to be creative every day. I originally wanted to be a fashion designer when I was very young but in middle school I found out what graphic design was and that seemed to me like the best of all the creative worlds combined. I didn’t want to go down the “starving artist” route, so I was happy to learn I could have a creative career and someone would pay me well to do that. I was lucky to have a good art program and teacher in high school that pushed me to pursue a career in design. I took AP art classes that really helped me build a strong fine art portfolio for art school admissions.
I applied at numerous schools in Ohio and BGSU fit what I wanted— large campus with lots of opportunity, affordable, and an excellent design program. I also liked that I would be getting a true BFA that allowed me to take lots of classes like printmaking, glass blowing, and drawing. Those classes really helped me explore as a designer and round out my education, while teaching me so much about the importance of craft.
What type of design do you enjoy creating?
I have gotten to work on so many different kind of design mediums, including web design, packaging, event branding, environmental graphics, identity design— even the occasional custom equestrian jump. What I love most about design is the variety in this career and being able to creatively problem solve; that skill transcends the different design mediums. I also love being able to give back to my community and volunteer my design skills to non-profits that are doing work that I’m passionate about, such as women and girls causes, dress for success, and animal rights organizations.
What do you enjoy the most about design?
I enjoy getting to see the things I’ve designed go out in the world and help brands better tell their unique stories. It can be as simple as seeing a wine brand I worked on out on store shelves, seeing a poster I designed hanging on someone’s wall, or going to an event that I did the design work for and getting to see people there. Experiencing people interact and have fun with what you design has been the most enjoyable part of this career.
What are you doing right now?
Right now, I’m starting to slowly wind down from a busy year. At my full-time job at NetJets, I’ve been working on all of our holiday cards for the company which are full of lots of fun, fancy printing finishes.
I’m also helping redesign the Netjets uniforms for all our crew members. I got to work with Brooks Brothers on the garment designs and create custom fabric patterns that reference NetJets brand heritage. This is super exciting because they will be worn by thousands of crew members.
The beginning of the year is always busy at NetJets for the marketing team. I’m working on event designs for our sales conference in January. There are also lots of events we sponsor in equestrian, golf, and food and wine space that will need branding in the new year. Other than working with NetJets, I’m wrapping up some freelance work for the city of Gahanna with their tourism bureau for their holiday events throughout the city.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Any dream projects you would love to do?
I’m pretty happy where I’m at. I’ve worked for various ad and branding agencies and retail giants for multiple years and while I enjoyed my experiences, I am happy to have made my way to NetJets. I love working with an amazing team of people, a large variety of design projects, and a good work life balance. I hope I can keep doing what I love: solving design challenges and getting to take on freelance work for causes that I’m passionate about that help my community.
I feel lucky I’ve gotten to work on so many things I only dreamed of getting to design for. I would like to get to work on a restaurant brand from the beginning identity all the way through the space planning and environmental design. That’s the best thing about design- it’s such a versatile medium- and I love getting to execute a vision from the very beginning to the end of the user experience.
What advice would you give for students currently in the program?
Don’t be afraid to explore. BGSU offers so much all on one campus and especially in the School of Art. You’ll probably never get the opportunity again to be able to dabble in so many different mediums, so take advantage of it and sign up for all of the classes that your heart desires. Make friends with your classmates and lean on each other to help push your work. You’ll need their help along the way (especially at 2 a.m. the day before critique) as much as your professors.
As design majors, I can’t stress the importance of internships enough. Please go out of your way to do them. It will make you a better, more prepared designer. I interned at Concentrek Group in Toledo in between my classes my junior and senior year and learned so much more from that experience than any classroom could teach me. Be humble in the beginning of your career. You may feel like you know it all after 4 years in school, but you still have so much to learn.
Seek out mentors anywhere you can that are willing to help you grow, not just as designers but as people. Be wary of jobs that require too much of you. Hustle culture is real and while you should work hard at the beginning of your careers, try to set healthy boundaries with your time. In most jobs, you are getting paid to work 40 hours a week, so try and stick to working those 40 hours. Burning the midnight oil on pitches will get old and drain you. All good creatives need down time to recharge their batteries.
Don’t be afraid to try lots of different jobs. I thought I wanted to work in agencies forever when I graduated, but over time that didn’t fit with the balance I wanted for my life. Designers are lucky that the skills we have are able to be freelanced. Don’t shy away from taking a contract or freelance position to put yourself out there. It’s an opportunity to try something new without the commitment of a salaried position. It’s best to make money for yourself and get those student loans paid off.
Interviewed by Sarah Knauf