In Department of Design


In the newest installment of the Women in Design Lecture Series, four panelists answered student questions on everything from how to land jobs as a student to dealing with the uncertainty that seems to be inherent in creative careers.

Photo courtesy of Nicole Hawkins.

The panel featured of Brooke Smart, Ann Hintze, Trisha Zemp and Michelle Stuhl. These women have worked with some of the country’s most successful brands including Nike, The New York Times, Random House and Lindt Chocolate. However, their accomplishments go far beyond working with high profile companies and brands.

Hintze worked for 10 years in New York agencies and recently co-founded the sustainability- focused brand Nuno, which is based in Salt Lake City.

Smart is an illustrator who has been awarded a Portfolio Honor at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Portfolio Showcase in NYC and is currently teaching class at BYU.

Zemp is a successful stop motion artist who has worked with a range of clients as a freelancer.

Stuhl founded a recruiting agency that connects creative professionals with companies and brands across the globe. She also serves on the board of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

In case you missed the Women in Design Panel, here are our highlights from the panel below.

In following the career plans you had right out of school, how were things different or challenging in ways you did not anticipate?

Hintze: “What is a plan, right? At the end of the day you have to think big picture. The plans will fall into place. There is also a lot of flexibility in the non-planning.”

Zemp: “My life didn’t go as I had anticipated because I grew up in a really sheltered LDS community. I thought my calling in life was to go to BYU, find a return missionary as a freshman, fall in love, get married, drop out of school and make a lot of babies — and that was just my life plan as a 19-20-year-old. Cause that’s what all the girls in my community were praised for. Eventually I realized getting married and finding someone you love is a little harder than you think and so it didn’t happen as a freshman for me. It didn’t happen for a long time for me. And then I realized I can have dreams and goals of my own and I can pursue something.”

What are a few things you look for when you are recognizing new talent? Whether that is someone you are going to hire or work with?

Zemp: You can be as talented in the world as you can, or possibly ever want to be, but if you don’t work hard it really doesn’t matter.

Stuhl: Talent is just the price of entry. People are not hiring portfolios, they’re hiring people. Each and every interaction, in all situations, really counts. The building of your reputation supports your success in your career.

How have you made decisions that affect your career at different transitional points? For example, deciding to go to grad school, switching jobs or starting a family?

Hintze: The biggest transitions in my career have happened when I’ve stopped learning or when I got to a point where there wasn’t a position for me to grow in. It was an opportunity for me to make a change.

Stuhl: So many [people], who are the most successful, plan those moves much more strategically. If you have your head down and you’re just waiting for things to happen to you, is so different than sitting in a position where you’re open and hearing what’s going on in the world because it opens up those doors.

How have you balanced freelance jobs with a full time position? Is it even possible?

Zemp: If you want to make it happen, you can make it happen. As a student it just meant I didn’t sleep very much. It meant I took on jobs and I stayed up all night doing stop motion and I did it on weekends.

Smart: Sometimes you need to take a step back and decide how can I make this work? If you really need a full time, but you still want to do your creative work on the side, sometimes it’s better to have a job that is not creative. Sometimes you use all your creative skills during the day and then what are you left with? Nothing. You’re just exhausted and you’ve used up all your creative juices for the day.

A lot of times in creative careers there is a lot of uncertainty to where you are going to end up later in life. How do you deal with that uncertainty as you’re moving forward?

Zemp: Embrace the uncertainty. That’s the best part about being a freelancer. You can create the job you want or cool opportunities just come. Everyday when you open that email it’s like new surprises pop in. Your life is a rollercoaster and you just get to go along for the ride. 

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