Kirsten NavinArt Director
As far back as first grade, I knew I wanted to be an artist. However, in my little hometown, the only options my teachers could conceive of regarding an artistic career were either: fine artist, or vendor at a craft fair. Neither of which felt like the right fit for me. While I enjoyed painting and drawing, I couldn’t envision myself as a fine artist. Working in the company of Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Picasso, Durer and even my father (who was also a painter) was a bit intimidating to a grade school kid. I knew there had to be another option.
In college, my path became clearer as I studied graphic design and developed my interest in typography. In many ways being a graphic designer is like being a movie director (and who doesn’t want to direct?). Gathering different, and often times eclectic, elements and piecing them together to form a cohesive whole is an intriguing creative challenge. I’ve grown to view graphic design as a combination of storytelling and problem-solving.
Sometimes the story is obvious, as it is literally a story (i.e. a book or magazine article). Sometimes it is not so obvious and the story needs to be created, as in the case of many logo design projects. The first challenge is to figure out what the story should be. Then the problem solving comes into play as one explores the elements needed to tell that story. Should the visual be an illustration, a photograph, or strictly a type treatment? Is black & white or color the better palette to establish the mood? Which typeface best complements the story; an elegant Didone font like Bauer Bodoni, or a modern Geometric Sans such as Verlog? The answers all lie in the project itself: find the best way to tell the story and the solutions will become clear.
After working for years as an Art Director and Designer for nationally published sports magazines (Tennis and USTA Magazine), I thought that’s it: “Magazine Designer, that’s my path, that’s what I am!” I loved the collaborative spirit of working with writers, illustrators, photographers and editors, all to tell a story. It felt like the perfect fit.
Then I worked on my first book and my perspective changed. It was a stimulating and fun project, during which my research and organizational skills became especially useful. The client requested very specific images for this coffee table, photo-driven book. I had to become a photo detective of sorts, tracking down pictures spanning more than four decades. All the film noir movies I watched on The Late Late Show must have instilled some sleuthing abilities in me, because if the photo existed, I was determined to track it down. So I broadened my scope and, as tempting as the title “Raider of the Lost Photo Archives” was, I opted to describe myself more broadly as “Publication Designer.”
Encouraged by the new challenges that book brought, I sought more independent projects, which eventually led me to embark on a wider path as I began pursuing my own clients and enterprises full time. Recent projects have included: advertisements, brochures, invitations, sell sheets, banners, posters, logos, postcards, books, and magazines. I was reinvigorated by the variety of projects and all the new elements I could now direct: different paper stocks and ink choices, different sizes and different printing techniques — I love letterpress!
As I leaned toward declaring myself a “Print Designer,” I realized my work extends beyond the printed page since web design and conversions to tablet apps are now also in my repertoire. And so the saying “It’s the journey, not the destination” which comes to mind as I sum up my artistic life; always looking forward to what lies ahead, no matter what label that path may have.
My studio is in Fairfield County, Connecticut.
Please contact me to discuss your upcoming project.
Academy of Visual and Interactive Arts Communicator Awards | American Graphic Design Awards (formerly Graphic Design USA) | AMCP MarCom Award | American In-House Design Award | Apex Grand Award | Apex Awards of Excellence | Connecticut Art Directors Club | Ozzie Gold Award | Ozzie Silver Award | Ozzie Award