Pushing Yourself Conceptually - Maine College of Art

Libby Connolly '16

The language and purpose of design made sense to me.
Describe a body of work that you are currently working on. I just finished up a packaging/identity project. We had the decision to choose between Geary’s Summer Ale, loose leaf tea, or marijuana. I ultimately decided to package and redesign marijuana. I decided marijuana because it’s very up and coming. The industry will be huge soon and there is very little well-designed packaging and identity for this product. The product in general sparked a lot of abstract thought, which really allowed me to design freely, without boundaries. I treated each strain of marijuana as its own identity (White Widow, Blue Dream, Skywalker), while still belonging to one over arching company (Burmese). I really wanted to change the perception of marijuana and break the stereotype of stoner culture. I decided to treat each product as high fashion, sort of glorifying and glamorizing this not very glamorous drug. Looking at Birchbox as well, I got the idea to treat them as a gift, or something you would subscribe to monthly. Imagining how the consumer would interact with each package was very much considered, down to the details like adding an information card of the product inside, the size of each glass vile, and the smaller, more intimate size of each box themselves. This project really allowed me to try new processes I hadn’t before, like marbling paper, which was really fun and inspiring all in its own. Currently I am designing a mail-ready take-away portfolio for myself. Its sort of turned into a identity project for myself which is exciting, so we’ll see where that goes.
What’s your background? Kennebunk always had really great art programs and resources so I grew up taking every art class I could. I was more interested in Photography then, but upon acceptance into MECA, I took primarily Printmaking classes at first. I really enjoyed the process that Printmaking naturally offers. I left my comfort zone and took some Woodworking & Furniture Design classes my Sophomore year and loved them. In the end though I felt much more confident with design. I was taking Graphic Design courses at this time too and felt generally very comfortable with what I was doing. The language and purpose of design made sense to me. Although there was never a right answer, I always loved solving the problem. I actually went to a different art school for a year to pursue design, but ended up coming back to MECA. MECA truly does offer a very unique program here which allows each individual to explore openly and without expectation.
How has your education at MECA shaped you as an artist? MECA’s professors have always been very supportive of all my ideas. I think having creative freedom is very important. At the same time being encouraged to further push and strengthen your ideas is not always easy, but necessary. With every studio class I’ve taken here the professors have been really awesome to recognize and acknowledge this in their students. The professors here will push you, but in the end its in your hands to carry your ideas to the next level. I think it was David Puelle who told us “You’re only as good as your last project,” which I couldn’t agree with more. If I’m not pushing myself, or leaving my comfort zone in some way, I’m not getting better. The professors here are really good to step back and let you figure that out, but at the same time will be there to help you when you need it. I would say my practice has changed greatly since taking Printmaking and Woodworking & Furniture Design classes. This is mostly because you think very differently in these majors. With design, I’m focused more on a “does this work?” mentality. I’ve been trying to push myself conceptually while still thinking in terms of design. With design especially, the end product isn’t for you. We’re designing for the people. So you always have to keep that in mind as well.
What inspires you? Lately I’ve been very inspired by the nature of chance and the unexpected. I’ve been gravitating towards softer pastel color palettes and geometric and abstract shapes and ideas. I’ve been obsessing over Prue Stent’s work lately. She produces some beautiful photographs. I’ve also been looking at a lot of prop design, like Sarah Parker. That aesthetic has become very popular lately in design. Frost French’s instagram is a place I go for inspiration as well as 36daysoftype. Growing up, and now I’m inspired by the outdoors as well as dance. I grew up hiking and camping and danced for 14 years so those will always be relevant to me. I find myself on cabinporn.com a lot and am always watching music and dance videos. I really appreciate Justin Bieber’s new video Sorry which features the very talented dance group The Royal Family.
What kind of career do you want to pursue after graduation? I still don’t really know where I see myself after graduation. Lately I’ve really liked working on packaging and branding projects. I could also see myself pursue a more Art Direction driven path too though. I’ve been thinking how cool it would be to produce music videos or something along those lines. I haven’t really answered the Where and What questions yet. I know there is so much out there, it all depends on what I’d be happy doing. I guess soon after graduation I picture myself at Design firm that specializes in branding but has the freedom with some clients to do some more out-of-the-box work. I’ll ultimately go wherever the wind takes me if it feels right.
What else are you interested in? Humans in general. That sounds weird but there is something really inspiring about human capabilities. I’m always humbled to find extremely driven and just all around genuine people doing what they love.