Move Beyond Concepts - Maine College of Art

Samantha Haedrich

We have an intense program that prepares design majors for a number of potential opportunities.

Describe your body of work in a few sentences. I work as an independent designer under the name PATH, my studio is based in Portland. In general, my work takes the form of publications, posters, websites, and visual identities. PATH allows me to collaborate with artists, entrepreneurs, and organizations that I admire.

My work often relates to visual patterns and systems that reveal themselves over time. My personal passion is book design; the consideration of a book as an object – meaning the design of not only it’s surface, but also it’s underlying structure. At it’s best, a book acts as an archive that can be reinterpreted with multiple reads. The reader dictates his or her own experience, but designers can coax a reader to enter into the content in unexpected ways and make connections across pages, and beyond.

What makes the Graphic Design Program at MECA unique? We have an intense program that prepares design majors for a number of potential opportunities within the discipline. Because MECA is a small institution, we pride ourselves on working closely with our majors to develop their skills while allowing students the freedom to discover their internal creative drive.

At MECA, majors feel like they are not only part of the College, but also members of a larger creative community. MECA has a dedicated Artists at Work program, and we partner with local design agencies and organizations to help support our core studio classes. For example, I teach a course at MECA called Design Workshop. In the past, students have worked directly with organizations like the Maine Red Claws basketball team, the Portland Audubon Society, and the radio station WCYY to help bring creative thinking to established brands. In this class, students have the opportunity move beyond concepts, realize a finished piece of work and make a direct impact on the community.

Each semester we invite designers to MECA to discuss their practice, lead workshops and serve as guest critics. Through major’s classes, and our student-led design group Maine Type Lab, students can go on studio visits and participate in design-related events. In the spring, MECA hosts an annual Portfolio Day in collaboration with AIGA Maine that brings nearly 50 companies to MECA. During the event, design majors have the chance to present their work to multiple art directors and studio heads from the region.

What can you tell us about the Graphic Design scene in Portland / Maine? Portland has a small but thriving design community. The city has award winning studios, advertising agencies and a number of companies that employ in-house designers.

I serve as the Co-President of AIGA Maine. Our organization develops events and programs throughout the year that support the design community. Every month there’s something happening that students can take advantage of: monthly meet-ups, our Lightning Talks lecture series or a movie or workshop related to the field. We also bring in national speakers each year. All of our events are free to students. AIGA Maine also supports recent graduates who stay in Portland through our new mentorship program.

MECA works closely with AIGA Maine and other arts-based organizations in the region. MECA is highly respected in the creative community, and it leads to great opportunities for our students and alumni.