Ann Macarayan
BFA in Illustration
Illustrator/Designer at Gartner Studios

What do you currently do for a living?

I am an illustrator/designer at a stationery company called Gartner Studios in Stillwater, Minnesota.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

Even though I work in product design and make things for mass retailers, my job really encourages its designers to work by hand in order to make original and fun art. We are a small team and each one of us has a unique skill set, so projects tend to be assigned to us based on our style and aesthetic. It's very nurturing to us as artists—we can utilize our talents and excel at what we do best!

Why did you choose your major and what were your major classes like?

I chose illustration because I've always loved every aspect of it; whether it be in magazines, or as posters or prints, or on product. Luckily, classes in my major covered each one of those. I took Editorial Illustration with Tom Garrett, and he's great when it comes to telling a detailed story in a single illustration. Product Design was so much fun; it allowed me to really find my visual aesthetic and work it into objects like toys, stationery, or apparel. Now that I've graduated I work in product design full time, and I do editorial freelance at night. It's a great way to shake things up and keep my illustrations fresh!

What was your experience with MCAD's facilities? Did you have a personal studio?

The MCAD facilities are great. Utilize them 100% while you're there. Use the Service Bureau often, and don't be afraid to ask questions!!!!

I enjoyed having my own studio because it was a quiet space where I could work really hard for long hours, but still be able to go out and get lunch, or say hi to friends in other studios. It's super convenient, and better than working at home or somewhere super public, though working in coffee shops can be nice sometimes too.

How do you find inspiration when you are feeling stuck?

Have a side project with no deadline. Go with the one thing you've always wanted to make and start making it. Always wanted to make a set of patches? Make 'em. Want to make a zine? Just do it. Don't worry if it sucks on the first go, projects like these can be put on hold for as long as you want and then be revisited when you feel stuck or bored, because it's fun and you enjoy it and it's for no one but yourself.

What advice do you have for art/design students?

Talk to a lot of people, talk to people with similar goals and passions and who are excited about art. Find a really rad group of friends while you're in school. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Put your art everywhere on the internet so people see it. Spend the money on a custom domain name for your website, if you can. I know you want to drink another cup of coffee, but drink water instead.

Name your one biggest takeaway from MCAD?

Make things you think are fun. Students and teachers are gonna tell you not to sometimes. Listen to them, but make things you genuinely enjoy too, and don't get too caught up in what others are making or what you think you SHOULD be making. Don't think too hard about it, y'know? This sounds super cheesy, but your art shines better when it's something you're passionate about and if it looks like you had fun making it.