This was never my plan…
The mid-1980’s were a time of great change for advertising, marketing, graphic design, and printing. Graduating from Carnegie Mellon University in 1986, with a BFA in ART, deposited me into a design career smack in the middle of a lot of new technology, marketing challenges, and industry experimentation. During my senior year, I was fortunate to have been one of a handful of Fine Arts students asked by an entrepreneur named Steve to ”play” with his computer and software and give feedback. His 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! For a painter and printmaker, all that plotting took big effort with little payoff. 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. As a student, a Marketing and Design career was never my plan. Back then I never really had a plan. I suppose I thought I would paint, experiment with printmaking, illustrate, and in time, make my mark on the art scene… Or go to graduate school and teach. Things have changed — decades of coordinating meeting, schedules, deliverables, printing, and tight deadlines, I have now become a strategic planner!
Fate placed me in a 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 branded luggage manufacturer in the country (the now dissolved York Luggage Company). My next move was as Art Director for a Philadelphia Ad Agency. In the beginning, I understood the programs, how they worked, and I had creative talent. 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 develop and work within strategies, spot trends, creatively achieve marketing goals, make connections, instruct and find and lead talent teams, and communicate to executive staff and clients.
Instinctively, I lead others… I began to enjoy discovering support talent, as well as, managing talent teams to accomplish the best results. I stayed hands-on — growing skills along with the growing technology. As I grew into the marketing and advertising culture, so did my love of 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.
As a hands-on creative director and graphic designer, I support marketing by producing print and digital media solutions. I develop and manage projects to ensure strategy and goals are met. I unlock your messages and stories using whatever it takes to communicate and get the job done. I listen to understand the message, research and review, find the inspiration, use the technology and tools that are appropriate, make connections, and work towards keeping budgets 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, set up the final files for print and other media needs and deliver the final — It’s important to know the tools, to be able to work with them, and to manage projects to completion – not just talk concepts.
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 job — Definitely use it! If you can re-invent the technology to make the job/project better — DO IT! …And then SHARE how you do it. If the latest technology doesn’t work for the project, have enough “tools in your box” (and confidence as a designer) 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!