Ever wondered who creates the amazing graphics in our catalogs? Meet Alistair.
If I had the chance to switch jobs with someone for a day, you would without a doubt find me upstairs in our graphic design office. Surrounded by music, dogs, and a collection of all things inspiring. Oh, and some crazy talent coming from some of the coolest gals in the building. If you’re an avid reader of the blog, I’m sure you recognize the babe featured in this post. She’s posed in photos for us on multiple occasions, but it was about time we took a dive into this graphic designer’s world. Catalog graphics, our forever-loved Monday quotes, email banners…her work is scattered across all of the Free People channels. Get to know Alistair below as she talks typography, favorite neighborhood hangouts and the forever battle of east vs. west coast living.
West coast vs east coast…what do you like more? How does the area where you grew up in California compare to Philly?
This decision has become more difficult the longer I’ve been here in Philly. I thought I would always be a west coast girl, but east coast living has grown on me. It’s almost incomparable – they are so different, and I love qualities of each. Growing up in the hills surrounding the San Fernando Valley, I basically had access to hiking in my backyard. I fell asleep to coyotes howling. I practically lived in a bathing suit, being 20 minutes from the beach and constantly road-tripped north to the Redwoods, south to the desert and all over the state. I feel so lucky to have grown up in such a diverse terrain, and having a mother that encouraged me to explore, driving my brother and I up the coast to Big Sur every year. However, this gritty east coast city life has allowed me to experience things I definitely wouldn’t have on the west coast! It’s such a different vibe, walking around Philly or hopping a train to New York or just witnessing the diverse culture and architecture around me.
What do you do here at Free People?
I’m the Associate Graphic Designer for marketing, print, as well as the monthly catalog. I do a little of everything (like most of our team), but my focus is catalog and marketing.
Did you study graphic design in school? When did you first realize you had a passion for it?
I eventually studied graphic design in school, on the third try! I went to school in California for two years to study marine biology, then realized I wanted to pursue art. So I transferred to Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) to do illustration, which led me to graphic design. Phew. I always had a passion for art but didn’t realize that graphic design was my thing until my first typography class, and that’s when it hit me – yes! I love this and I am so lucky I found it.
Can you give us a typical day in the life of Alistair?
It usually begins with me hitting snooze on my alarm about 10 times, then rolling out of bed while making sure to cuddle the dog on the way. I’d like to think I can get to the gym, but no. It doesn’t happen. A walk to the café with my teammates and a huge iced coffee, then I’m usually good to start my day. When I get to my desk, I go through my emails and schedule to see what needs to be done and plan out my daily projects.. I’m most likely doing some lettering, pulling inspiration for upcoming web trend, working on designing a marketing campaign or laying out a catalog. Being outside for lunch is a must! Then I’m back at it. I can usually balance a good mix of hand-done work and computer work throughout my day, so it’s always interesting. Once I’m home, I’m greeted by a wolf who needs food and a walk. Sometimes we go for a run or we do a long walk around the neighborhood. Then, since I’m not a very good cook, I usually go out to dinner with my boyfriend and call it a day!
In terms of design, what are you really inspired by at the moment?
Old books, travel diaries, handpainted signs and the constant creativity imparted by my friends and co-workers. I love soft, pastel color palettes with a bold, black mark. Magazine type layouts and geometrics are something I’m really inspired by lately, as well!
What are three essential things any graphic designer should have?
First, a strong will and an open mind. As a designer you should be able to fight for your work and have meaningful reasoning but also be open to other thoughts and approaches. Being creative means being collaborative, constantly learning, and making effort with passion. Secondly, find inspiration outside the computer! Sometimes our team has inspiration trips and it encourages us to bring new perspectives and ideas to our designs. Thirdly, do not be discouraged. Love what you do, have confidence in your ability and you’ll be a great designer.
What’s been one of your favorite catalogs you’ve had the opportunity to work on?
Working on catalogs every month is quite the challenge! I love being pushed to come up with different concepts for designs each month, and the one that’s pushed me the most is this year’s August Magalog. It was so much fun to create so many different layouts, explore type as art and to work with such beautiful photos.
How would you describe your personal style?
I’m casual during the day. I can usually be spotted in a broad color palette of black, black, and grey. Summer style is my favorite, and a good pair of high-waisted jean shorts and a crop top is pretty much my uniform. At night, going out is my excuse to dress up and wear coveted pieces in my closet. I love a statement dress with some ankle boots to boy it up.
We’re practically neighbors…how would you describe our little nook of Philly?
We are! And that’s what I love about Fishtown! It boasts such a neighborhood feel in a big city environment. I have my regular spots and regular run-ins. Our area is full of good restaurants, bars and coffee shops. It’s a mix of old brick row homes, and the contemporary signage of newer businesses gives the hood an interesting aesthetic.
It’s the weekend: Where are you going/ what are you doing, and who are you with?
I try and pack my weekends in the summer. I’m all over the place. Friday night I’m with my boyfriend and we usually go out to dinner, somewhere where we can sit outside and bring our dogs! Saturday I’m at the beach or in the woods near a river with my homegirls and co-workers, Holly and Anna. Saturday night, we might be karaoking or exploring new spots in Philly. Sunday, I have a craving for brunch and usually spend the day relaxing with Lykka, my dog, and going for a really long walk around Fishtown, perhaps poking my head into some thrift shops along the way.
What are three of your favorite night time spots in Philly/Fishtown?
Fishtown at night provides the perfect amount of happening things/places without becoming too wild and crowded. For dinner, I love Cedar Point, a small restaurant and bar just down the street from my house. Their food is amazing, and sitting outside on the deck with a glass of wine is a great way to start off the night. I love the low-key dive bars in Fishtown and there are so many good ones by my house! Fishtown Tavern, El Bar, and Atlantis the Lost Bar are my three go-to spots on the weekend. My third favorite nighttime spot is my backyard! I love having a yard in the city and I’ve made it my own little urban oasis with palm trees, string lights, my favorite people and occasionally some live music.
What’s one thing you’re willing to share that most people wouldn’t know just from looking at you?
People usually get a bit wide-eyed and confused when I tell them that I have to leave to watch an NBA playoff basketball game. I’m a huge NBA fan and get really into playoff season (I even listen to podcasts, eek). It dominates my conversations for about three months and most likely annoys my friends.
What does being ‘Free’ mean to you?
When I want to take a spontaneous road trip, throw my dog and a bag in my car and drive…that’s when i feel free. When I’m in a new city or new landscape where I can create new experiences, I feel free. When I’m coming up with and voicing new creatives ideas, I feel free. When I walk out of my house in something I feel confident in and don’t have any expectations, I feel free.
Check out more posts from the Who’s That Girl Series!