This was never my plan…
Upon graduation from Carnegie Mellon University, with a BFA in ART, I found myself headed towards a graphic design career smack in the middle of emerging technology, marketing challenges, and industry experimentation. It was and exciting time of great change for advertising, marketing, graphic design, and printing. I was ready for the challenges since I had been fortunate to have been one of the Fine Arts asked to play with new emerging design software and give feedback.
The new program could make simple pictures via plotting X and Y coordinates. It was like magic to me! I had never used a computer—for anything! All that plotting did take big effort with little payoff, and I remember thinking how easy it would be if I could just draw directly onto the screen so as not to have to plot coordinates. Nevertheless, I was instantly hooked on how cool the technology was and what the possibilities could offer the artist. Back then, a career in graphic design and marketing was never my plan. I thought I would paint, experiment with printmaking, illustrate, and make my mark on the art scene… Or attend graduate school and teach. Things suddenly changed after that small technology exposure.Now, with decades of design and marketing, coordinating meeting, schedules, deliverables, printing, and tight deadlines, I am a hands-on art director and graphic designer.
Fate placed me in my first professional position at a small suburban Philadelphia agency that was pioneering the then “new” technology. A few years later I landed as Creative Director for the largest designer branded luggage manufacturer in the country (the now dissolved York Luggage Company). My next move was as Art Director for a Philadelphia based ad agency. In the beginning, I understood the programs, how they worked, and I had creative talent. The technology came easily for me, and I quickly adapted to the media. I was a sponge — listening and learning from printers, marketing executives, peers, clients, purchasing staff, etc. I began to not only design but to also understand purposeful design and branding, marketing, how it effects sales, consumer interest, and corporate growth. I quickly developed an ability to create strategies, identify trends, develop and work within established strategies, creatively achieve marketing goals, make connections, find, instruct, and lead talent teams, and clearly communicate to executive staff and clients… selling concepts and direction, and orchestrating the completion of projects.
Instinctively, I lead others… so, it was natural that I began to enjoy discovering support talent, as well as, managing talent teams to accomplish the best results. I stayed hands-on — growing my skills alongside the expanding technology. As I grew into the marketing and advertising culture, so did my passion for it. In 1994, I established Arachne, a full-service marketing and design studio. In 2013, I began to share my knowledge and creativity with other entrepreneurs and their businesses; coaching them to discover their core goals, define their brands, and develop tangible useful marketing materials. Since moving to Southwest Florida in 2017, Arachne has been operating as Mary Carol Sullivan with a focus on supporting creative needs and teams; offering high level skills, creative solutions and project management.
As a hands-on art director and graphic designer, I design, develop and manage projects to ensure marketing strategies and goals are met. I unlock solutions and stories by being an active listener then effectively research and review, find the inspiration, use the technology and tools that are appropriate, make connections that communicate the message, and work towards keeping budgets, talent and schedules on track.
I have worked for…
These experiences have made me particularly equipped to formulate creative ideas, develop purposeful marketing solutions, meet individual client needs with attention, and respond to deadlines and budgets; as well has made me a better leader and mentor when working with creative staff and peers… I can drive the technology, come up with ideas, do the graphic design, prepare and inspect the final files and deliver the final product. It’s important to understand the concept, know the target market, be able to work with the appropriate technology/tools, and to manage projects to completion. [SKILLS]
Technology continues to evolve. I am learning something new every day.
My philosophy about art and technology? Technology is a tool. If the technology applies to and will benefit the creativity — Definitely use it! If you can re-invent the technology to make the project better — DO IT! …And then SHARE how you do it. If the latest technology doesn’t work for the project, have enough confidence and “tools in your box” to use something else — or learn something new. Lastly, the person sitting next to you can always teach you something, always engage in conversations to find out what that is.
Nothing but blue skies!