Executive Interview: Sarah Pratt

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Pratt

Working as a graphic designer for Amenity Inc., Sarah Pratt has had ample opportunity to harness her creativity while making a stable and practical living. I only had a vague understanding of what a graphic designer did, mostly that the job requires a good sense of visual aesthetics. I was glad for the chance to hear a much more detailed description of this career path through my interview with Sarah.

Which university did you attend and what degree did you earn?

I attended Chapman University and graduated with my BFA in Graphic Design. I was a transfer student and previously attended a Junior College wear [sic] I received two AA degrees. One in Arts & Humanities and one in Social & Behavioral Sciences.  

What is your current job title and responsibilities?

I am currently am working [sic] at Amenity Services Inc., where my job title is Graphic Designer.  I design photograph [sic] and manage all visual and creative brand assets used in collateral material, company catalog and on website [sic]. This includes but is not limited to coffee packaging, coffee cups, various boxes, condiment packages, trade show booths, etc. I also create marketing collateral and presentation materials customized for sales teams on a short turn around [sic]. I ensure all packaging files are press ready and attend all new product press checks. I directly communicate with national hotel chain executives (e.g. Hilton Hotel Group and Wyndham Worldwide) to create and execute a wide variety of visual concepts to adopt as brand standards for in-room amenity programs.

What drew you towards becoming a graphic designer? 

I have always been a creative person and knew I wanted to do something that could encompass that in my everyday life. For me, graphic design was where I could express that creativity, but it also had the structure of a more traditional career. I got my first dose of design laying out my middle school newspaper, from there I went on to do yearbook in high school. I loved doing this and knew I wanted to dive in more and learn more about the different avenues of being a graphic designer.

What are some important ideas you must keep in mind when designing projects for companies?

It is most important to really keep in mind what the end goal of a project is. Sometimes that is easy to lose sight of as deadlines loom and opinions change things. Also, it is important to keep in mind who the client is. A small example of this is I might really want to use blue for a project, but the color scheme for the client is warm tones that wouldn’t necessarily make sense. A deadline is something I keep in mind as well. If I have a tight deadline for something, that might impact how I approach the project. For example, if it is a tight deadline, I might choose to use some stock elements rather than designing some aspects from scratch. It is my ambition to always not only create a design that looks good, but is successful in doing the job it was created for.

What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of the graphic design career path? 

One of my strongest qualities as a designer is to recognize good design and to trust my gut instinct. My ability to learn, have a strong concept, and passionately speak about my work sets me apart. For many people, communicating what they want is the problem, and it is my job to bridge that communication gap. It is realizing their needs and desires and making them a reality.  It is a giant puzzle to be solved, and that is the reason I love it. When I see the reaction people get from seeing and interacting with my designs, I get a feeling that pushes me to keep going and create more. 

What sort of career goals did you have in mind when you were in college? Did your plans turn out the way you expected? 

While I was in school, my biggest goal was to have a job lined up after I graduated, and I did achieve that. I originally thought I would end up at a branding agency, and while I did intern with one, my current position is not with one. I was always really interested in brand strategy and I feel like I get to do that in my current position. For example, I have to figure out how to visually position a brand that we license with in [sic] a hotel.

Do you have any advice for college students in the midst of figuring out their future career plans?

Don’t be afraid to change your plans. If something else is calling your name at least really look at why that might be interesting [sic] you. Explore as many avenues related to your intended career as possible. Make sure to make connections with your professors, they can be key in finding a job or learning key things down the line. This has helped me out more times than one [sic].