Issue Three Feature: Marta Harding | Graphic Designer

Issue Three - March 2013

Marta Harding
Graphic Designer & Art Director
cargocollective.com/martaharding

Who are you and what type of creative are you?

While I consider myself a graphic designer, I love to incorporate a variety of interests into my work including photo art direction, hand-lettering, and illustration. I was born and raised in South Carolina where I learned the importance of southern hospitality, and I attended Savannah College of Art and Design where I graduated as Salutatorian in 2009 with a major in Graphic Design and a minor in Advertising Design. I've worked as a full-time designer for Target, Yahoo!, and currently for IDEO with freelance clients including Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn Teen, and Workman Publishing.

You majored in Graphic Design and minored in Advertising design at SCAD. How did you mange to find enough time to do your projects and not get burned out?

I viewed college very similarly to how I view life in general: work hard, play hard. It's about striking a balance. I am very much a list-maker, and I stress out if there are too many things randomly floating around in my head. I believe that if you are organized with the ability to prioritize, you are able check off all the important work things on your work list while leaving time to play. Play-time is important, no matter how you choose to spend it. Mental breaks allow for rejuvenation and new forms of inspiration. In the end, it benefits your work by allowing you to stay mentally fresh.

What was it about graphic design made you want to become a designer?

Since I was three years old, I wanted to become an artist. In 8th grade, my aunt (who is a graphic designer) told me about graphic design. And from then on, I just knew that it was the career I wanted to pursue. It was not only a viable way to make a living through art, but it was a way to communicate at scale. I believe in design for impact, and graphic designers are empowered with the unique ability to communicate visually and drive change.

What is your favorite part of the design process?

My favorite part of the design process are the reactions. When you show a client a design for the first time and their eyes light up with excitement. When you show teammates a design and they say, "YES! That is what I had in my head, but you were able to visually bring it to life better than I could have imagined!" I love the power that design has to elicit emotive responses. Designs speak. And being able to provide that visual voice to others feels so good to me. 

Where do you get your inspiration and how do you incorporate your inspiration into your work?

Inspiration can come from any number of places: designer contemporaries, historical designs, art, architecture, books, nature...It's important to gather inspiration from a range of sources in order to not imitate, but to interpret bits and pieces through your own voice. Every project is unique, and I generally have an innate guidance on how the final design solution should "feel." I then try to create a design with the goal of eliciting a desired emotional response. 

How do you start a project? 

I generally begin projects with thinking and research in order to get into the mindset of the project and to understand the landscape in which I'm working. What has been done? What hasn't been done? What would be a unique approach to the project, but not be so experimental that it wouldn't communicate effectively and easily? What conceptually makes sense? What style of design would best lends itself to the concept? Once I think through these things and understand the landscape, the design process is more guided and intentional.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a designer/art director? 

My advice: do what you love! Work hard and crave self-improvement. You'll never stop learning, so embrace challenges as opportunities to grow. And be nice to people. Generally, people don't want to work with difficult designers, and your work can only improve through positive collaboration. 

What projects, that you have done, are you most proud of or are your favorites? Why?

It's so hard to say which projects are my favorite! I love them all for different reasons, but projects that I enjoy the most are ones that involve great relationships. It makes for a truly enjoyable process that is collaborative in nature. From food packaging with Williams-Sonoma to personal stop-motion videos I've made with my husband, the projects that are both creatively successful AND fun ideating/making/processes are the most satisfying.