I’ve been wanting to do this series for a while now, to have the opportunity to speak with other women about what they do (for fun, for work, etc.) and to touch on challenges they face in their careers. I had been thinking about all of the interesting women I know, and how great it would be to be able to delve further into these women’s lives. In this series, these women can share about their current lives, careers, and adventures, and share advice with other women out there, who might be interested in following the same path.
My first guest is beautiful and hilarious, and we had the best time talking, as two creatives who’ve worked together (and been friends for sixteen years)! She runs an independent Graphic Design Studio called InBetween Studio, and her blog can be found here. You can also find her on Instagram @Inbetween_Studio and @smtursi.
Without further ado, here is our interview…
1) Please briefly introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about what you do with your days.
My name is Sandra Tursi, and I am a Graphic Designer. I start my day by going to the gym, and then spend about an hour getting inspired by looking at other peoples’ images, reading editorials, and getting updates on what other freelancers are working on. Some days this really motivates me, and others it puts me in a foul mood. I tend to be hard on myself when I see how creative my peers are, but I try to use it as inspiration for what I would like to work on myself.
2) What are you currently working on?
Lately I’ve been wanting to get back to my roots and start making things. Recently, I’ve been designing some wedding invitations for a friend, and I had to send them out to a letterpress to be printed. I might buy myself a tabletop letterpress to work with, because I love being able to go from start to finish — to design something and then print it myself, and see the finished product — it’s very satisfying for me. I am obsessed with the tactile sense of working with paper. I love the feeling of a paper product, as opposed to only working with digital images and layouts. Plus, I’m always nervous about sending stuff to other vendors. I worry that things won’t turn out the way I envision them.
3) How did you get started in Graphic Design?
It’s kind of a funny story. In my first year of college, I did a lot of science courses because I was good at it in High School. I thought about maybe becoming a Dermatologist or something, but I spoke to one of my dad’s friends who is a doctor in the Navy, and he talked me out of it. My dad encouraged me to do art because I have always been artistic; I always drew things, and I won a bunch of awards for my art, even as early as kindergarten. My mom still keeps all of the stuff I created when I was younger. I didn’t take my dad seriously at first; I told him that I didn’t want to be poor and had this image of being a painter under a bridge or something.
I used to watch the Spanish version of the show, Ugly Betty, and one of the guys on that show was a Graphic Designer. I always had a thing for letters and layouts, but I didn’t really know it was a thing before I saw that show. Growing up in Temecula, California, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of artsy lifestyles, the way I might have been if I’d grown up in a city like San Francisco or New York. One of my aunts works in a publishing house with her husband, so I flew out to England to visit, and they told me about what they do, and what kind of courses I could take to explore design. I specialized in graphic design because I love publishing. I’ve always been drawn to magazines and stuff. There aren’t a lot of publishing houses where I live in Omaha, Nebraska, so that’s how I got into branding.
3) What drew you to your current field?
I’ve always done art. I am always trying new things, like recently, I worked on a bunch of macrame projects, and I did a lot of screen printing for a while. I am all about learning new techniques. But letterpress, print and design, that’s where my soul lies. I get nerdy about paper; I’m an old soul when it comes to stuff like that. I am one of those people who will forever be saying that print will never die. Like, I received a Kindle from my mom for Christmas one year, and I can’t bring myself to use it very often because I love the feel of paper. The convenience of screens can’t take away from the tactile satisfaction people get from paper. I love going to old bookstores, just to buy books for the look of them. I will actually buy books sometimes for the book itself, and not the content! I really appreciate the craftsmanship of a good book, the attention to detail, how the spine is bound, the font that’s used…people don’t realize how much is put into a book to make you want to grab it off the shelf. There are certain things about the design of something where, if you don’t notice it, that means they’ve done a good job. That beautiful craftsmanship is what drew me to design.
4) What does it mean to be a woman in your field?
Honestly, I’ve been really lucky and haven’t experienced any real issues being a woman in Graphic Design. There was one thing though; you try to just do your best and be on the same level as your male counterparts, but I received an award one time, and it was like, recognizing that I was the first female designer at that company. It bothered me because I don’t want to be recognized for being a woman, I want recognition for being great at my job. To be honest, I’ve felt a lot more tension between female coworkers in my field. Maybe it’s just a competitive thing, but I wish we could all just support each other.
5) What advice do you have for other women interested in your field of work?
Never stop doing what you want to do. If you’re in a creative rut, get inspired by other people. Even if it’s not design — read things by other people, look at other peoples’ art. Don’t be afraid to look at others work, but don’t judge yourself too harshly. Art and design take a lot of self-confidence because you’re putting yourself out there, and it can be so subjective, whether something is “good” or not.
6) What is the most challenging part of your job?
Not being able to work on the things I want to work on. If someone gives me a brief that is super restrictive, I don’t get to stretch myself at all creatively. Also, admin stuff — invoicing, marketing, and sometimes you have to figure out how to work with clients who you don’t necessarily mesh with.
Thank you so much Sandra! Check out her design website here.