Not my bucket list, just a list I can’t believe I made…

Travel back in time.
Become a live mannequin.
Increase my foodie knowledge.
Promote a place I love.
Spend two full days taking photos.

No, these aren’t taken from my bucket list. These are examples of things I’ve gotten to do just by working. I pinch myself sometimes because I’m honored that I get paid to have experiences like this. Let’s explore.

I traveled back in time when I created the menu for Donna’s Diner. I found myself immersed in the retro feel, looking up 50s-style illustrations. Inspiration was taken from the building itself, which is your classic metal diner with accents of red and turquoise. The place serves up dishes like “Greased Lightning” and “Rebel Without a Cause.” Fun, creative, unique… and for a moment, I got to step into a simpler time. It’s one of my all-time favorite projects.

Lunch & Dinner Menu for Donna's Diner in Sharon, PA
Lunch & Dinner Menu for Donna’s Diner in Sharon, PA

I became a live mannequin when producing The Winner’s new ad campaign. They revamped their efforts in 2017 with a new color scheme, taglines, copy, and photography. In creating promo materials, I was asked to shoot their display windows. I crouched down to shoot great angles and pushed myself against the glass to use the natural light. I felt like a kid who snuck up in the display when their mom wasn’t looking and I might have pretended to be really still just for a second as people walked by. Their faces were priceless once they realized I was actually moving. I also did a shoot with a model in a bridal gown and then used it as the featured image on a full-page ad for the store. Seeing my work when flipping through magazines still gets me excited.

I increased my foodie knowledge when I created the Mercer County Wine & Brew Guide. I got to design this piece for the tourism promotion agency from scratch and I was inspired to do a little tasting along with my design work. Since I love to cook and I enjoy a good glass of wine, this was a dream project for me. Next time I’m in the area, I just might have to take my own trip on their Wine & Brew Trail!

I got to promote a place I love working with the Visit Pittsburgh, Welcome Pittsburgh identity projects. As a young girl, I remember visiting Grandma in the ‘big city’ and I ended up going to school for design right on Smithfield Street. My first career job was also downtown and I spent a decade driving over the bridges and walking by the rivers. The city is in my blood, so when I got a chance to design the identity, signage, brochure, and ads promoting Visit Pittsburgh’s welcome centers, I was super excited. I worked with iconic imagery like the Duquesne Incline and Fifth Avenue Place, which felt like an honor to me. I put together materials that help visitors enjoy our beautiful city and anytime I can show off the Burgh, I’m thrilled!

I spent two full days taking photos when I worked on the Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation (LCEDC) Annual Report. I traveled through the county photographing businesses for which the LCEDC had provided assistance. It was wild, but so enjoyable going from business to business, meeting and chatting with the owners and taking photos of what they’ve worked so hard to establish. The photos were used to create their 16-page annual report, showcasing some of the businesses we visited.

Being a designer means a lot more than sitting at a screen and putting colors and shapes and photos in the right order. It’s given me a chance to get out in the world and see and experience so much more than I ever imagined. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

If you want to view the completed projects I talked about above, just head on over to my portfolio page.