Designer Series With Brittany Barnhart
Can you tell me a little bit about your path to being a designer and founding Just Curious?
My path to becoming a designer is pretty straight forward. My dad was doing web design when I was in HS, and watching him design websites caught my attention. I took the only two classes that my high school offered for computer graphics, and had a really fantastic teacher who pushed me constantly. He was always very encouraging, and pushing me further because he knew that I needed to do more. After HS, I received a full scholarship to Washtenaw Community College, and took 4-5 classes every single semester so that I could graduate in two years. I chose graphic design because of the little knowledge I had of it and seeing my dad do it. At the end of my first semester, a class I was in took a day trip down to Cleveland for Weapons of Mass Creation. That was the moment that I fell in love with design. WMC embodied what I felt like I was looking for: a colorful, creative, and supportive community that radiated passion.
After graduating college, I worked at a print shop for almost two years and then decided to jump ship to start my own business, Just Curious.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
I try to have a typical work day, but it changes all the time (perks of running your own business!). I typically love to wake up early before everyone else and work on a personal project because the mornings are when I'm the most productive and creative. A good cup of coffee and illustrator are my favorite things in the morning! After a few hours of that, I'll squeeze in a workout, then do some administrative tasks, social, and then jump right back into creating. I try to be very aware of how I'm working and make sure that I'm maximizing my time based on how I'm feeling.
Was there ever a big mistake you made early in your career and were able to take something valuable from it?
A big mistake that I made early in my career? I'm sure there is but apparently I've blocked it out. Ha! No, but one that really sticks out is doing a "quick" job for a client without a contract, and the client ended up taking complete advantage of that. I wrote a blog post about it on my site if you want to read more about it here.
If you could give one piece of advice to another designer or entrepreneur starting out, what would you say?
A piece of advice I would give to another designer/entrepreneur who is just starting out is to be resilient. If you want something, go after it. There's going to be tough times, people will tell you "no," or they won't take your new venture seriously, but if you know that what you're doing is what you want, go for it. Don't take no for an answer, don't let people stop you; you can do absolutely anything. I'm not trying to be a motivational speaker here, but speaking from experience, your mental state is a bit of a mess when you start out. It's typical to feel like a fraud, or question everything, but those are things that hinder what you're going after. It's also weird for me to give this advice, because I am still starting out, but that's what I've learned over the past 8 months. Be resilient in everything that you do.
"Feel the fear, and do it anyway!"
Can you remember one of the first things you designed or created that you were proud of?
The first thing that comes to mind is my piece that was chosen to be 1 of the 5 designs included for the Christmas edition of "They Draw and Cook," the internet's largest collection of illustrated recipes created by artists from around the world. It was the very first piece that I explored with illustration, and hand lettering. That was the moment that I fell in love with illustration. Of course it was my first piece and I have grown a lot as an illustrator since then, however it opened my eyes to what is possible and I'm still proud of it!
Why did you choose to make this design for The Designer Series and what does it mean to you?
Make Your Own Magic is a phrase that resonates with me a lot. In this visual world, there is so much to look at, and sometimes it can be disheartening how much work is actually out there. It's always important though to make your own work, and to never stop yourself from creating a piece of work because "it's already been done." Everyone has their own voice and that is what makes the work so unique. Make Your Own Magic is something to always keep in mind.
Can you talk a little bit about the process that you used to make this piece?
My process was pretty simple for this piece. After I chose the phrase to continue with, I decided to write down words that reminded me of magic to get my ideas flowing. After a few lists were formed, I looked through some typography books that I use for inspiration and started drawing thumbnails. After my 4th thumbnail, I landed on this piece, and I kept refining it. After the thumbnail, I refined it to a tighter sketch, then I traced over it to refine it even more. Then I scanned it in, and started vectorizing it!
Are you working on any new projects right now?
A new project that I'm working on is my "Curious Little Passions." In an effort to do more illustrations in 2016, CLP is a weekly illustration challenge for myself. I hope to eventually post more than a weekly illustration, but right now with client work, that's all I'm able to push out. It's a lot of fun though, I'll be illustrating things I find interesting! (Which, realistically, is everything.)
Design bucket list time: is there one creative experience or project you'd love to work on in the next couple years that you have never had the chance to?
Design Bucket List: To illustrate a children's book. Call me ambitious, but I'd love to have that experience.
WHERE TO FIND BRITTANY: