Grad’s Work Revealed on NYSE

by Sharyn Kopf- Cedarville, OH

Not all artists suffer for their work.

Take Kara Merrick ’06. The graphic design major went straight from college to a full-time job at Rule29, a strategic design firm in the Chicago area. Shortly thereafter she was given an ideal assignment for someone just starting out in the field: designing banners for a company — large banners intended to hang outside the New York Stock Exchange.

It’s not often a young and relatively inexperienced employee gets such a project, but, in fact, that’s precisely why she was given the task.

“Since [the company] had strict standards,” she said, “they gave it to the new girl, thinking she couldn’t mess it up.”

Indeed, she did not. The large banners were noticed, even earning a mention through the Associated Press.

Not bad for a girl who graduated only a few months ago. But Kara seems to have an advanced understanding of how to not only get along in the business world, but to succeed in it. Her recipe for success? “You really have to immerse yourself in design and God’s creativity,” she shared. “Networking is also very important. Be bold. And have a great portfolio.”

For Kara, the best part of her work is seeing the end product, especially when it is being used for good. She’s had the opportunity to design for nonprofit organizations, including a Chicago adoption agency. “I like designing stuff with positive messages that will impact people,” she said. “What’s better than getting women to think of adoption instead of abortion?”

The brochure Kara designed was geared toward medical professionals, providing an option for them to offer pregnant patients.

Kara has enjoyed the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects, from logos to brochures to decorative titles for an online scrapbooking company … and of course, the banners hanging prominently in New York City.

Because of the company’s strict sense of branding, Kara wasn’t able to include much of her own ideas, but she discovered an important aspect of being a graphic designer.

“I really learned, especially with a large company like this, that you need to make sure you know what you’re doing and get it right,” she noted. “And I had to give up my own ideas to make the client happy.”

Kara credits Cedarville for much of her success. While in school, she had several opportunities to work on design projects with clients, which taught her the necessity of sometimes giving up one’s own vision on a project. “Cedarville taught me that doing an excellent job presents a good testimony,” she stated, “and because of what I learned about production, I felt confident and comfortable coming out of college, knowing how to do those things.”

So, what inspires the artist in Kara? Looking at the work of other great designers, of course, but that’s not at the top of her list. She said, “One of the biggest things that inspires me is God’s creativity in nature. It encourages me to try to get better and better every day.”