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Meet Creative Director, Graphic Designer, and Illustrator: Stephanie Dillon

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Dillon.

Stephanie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was always a crafty creative kid but really started to consider the possibility of making art my life in high school. I did not come from a family of creatives so I really have to credit some of my art teachers in high school for giving me the nudge and the vision that art could be a way of making a living. I moved to Orange County to pursue an education in Fine Art, eventually changed my focus to Graphic Design, and received my Bachelors of Science degree. I started working full time as a graphic designer upon my graduation from art school.

Fast forward 10 years, I now work full-time as Creative Director for an award winning agency in Long Beach called VDS (vdsla.com). I also run my own business as a freelancing designer/illustrator. Basically, while it is a lot of work, I get the best of both worlds. I get to spend a big chunk of time working with an amazing team of designers and writers in my full-time job and in my freelance endeavors I get to work with my own clients and focus on personal projects which are largely made up of illustration work.

My specialties in my personal work include traditional illustration and watercolor as well as digital and vector illustration. My graphic design style tends to be clean and has a bit of an illustrative flair. I have an online print on demand shop where many of my illustrations and paintings are available for purchase as prints, accessories, and home decor. (https://society6.com/stephdillon)

One of my more recent personal projects is a self-published adult coloring book. It was an amazing learning experience as I got a peek into the self-publishing world. I am always trying to learn more and push myself to try new things. It was also way more work than I thought it was going to be. Going in, I thought it was no big deal but by the end of it, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. It is now available on Amazon. (https://www.amazon.com/Tiny-Forest-Wishes-Stephanie-Dillon/dp/136752458X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479596395&sr=8-1&keywords=tiny+forest+of+wishes)

Has it been a smooth road?
I wouldn’t say I have had a lot of struggles along the way other than sometimes feeling overwhelmed by trying to balance full-time work in a demanding marketing industry and trying to do my own thing at the same time. But that’s the challenge of being a creative person in general. Always too many ideas and not enough time.

Any predictions for the industry over the next few years?
I feel like it is an exciting time in the creative industry. We are seeing more diversity and a wide variety of work and mediums. With digital really taking off in the past decade, print designers have been using inventive methods to be effective. We are seeing more and more independent artists and designers rising up to big jobs with fresh perspectives. It is going to be fun to see how it all blends together.

There is an exciting and provocative voice coming from the industry right now., especially with so many important topics in the news. We are going to be seeing even more meaningful work from designers and illustrators in the next 5-10 years. Everyone seems to have something to say but cutting through the noise requires creativity and substance.

Has there been a particular challenge that you’ve faced over the years?
About two years ago, I hit a bit of a creative block in my personal work. I got bored and was overly concerned about how my project choices were going to reflect a certain style. I find that when I spend a lot of time doing one thing, I start looking around for something else to try out. So instead of fighting it any longer, I spent the better part of a year experimenting and testing out new mediums. After forcing myself to stop focusing so much on any one thing, I was able to find my way around and land on an area of my work to cultivate and be excited about again.

One of the most exciting things to come out of that time for me was illustrating and self-publishing a coloring book. It was probably the first time that I felt like I was truly my own client and I learned so much from the process.

What would you tell someone who is just starting out?
1. Start. If you have a project on your mind, go for it. Making gains in the arts requires dedication, practice, repetition, failing, and starting over. So why not start getting that out of the way right away? There are so many resources available for designers to get their work out there with very little monetary investment. For instance, self-publishing and licensing sites are great for kicking off a project and social media costs nothing. There is always a place to share your work and start discussions.

2. Be prepared to make something every single day.

Contact Info:

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Image Credit:
Photo of me: Frank Armstrong
Work samples: Stephanie Dillon

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