#FreshMeatFriday: Graphic Designer, Sean Quinn


By rizeabove / / Get ready, we’re about to share another one of the top young creatives in Minnesota in a feature we like to call: Fresh Meat Friday. If you, or a youngin’ you know, have roughly between 0-5 years of professional experience and a killer book, please—for the love of all that is holy—shoot us an email: [email protected] Now, without further ado, let’s meet Sean Quinn. Sean graduated from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in 2014 with a degree in graphic design. During the school year, he worked with The Wake Student Magazine (a bi-weekly, student-operated publication of the UMN), interned with the University of Minnesota Recreation and Wellness and kept a small clothing company called Glyptic Apparel on the side, as well. Currently, he is a graphic designer at IN Food Marketing & Design. Alright, Minneapolis. Let’s get to it. Hi Sean, nice to virtually meet you. When looking at your book, we were drawn by your fun style. It’s nice mix of illustration and design. What would you say your career and creative aspirations are? Where do you see yourself in, say, five years? I’m sure many people in my life would attest to this, but I’m a bit ADD when it comes to my creative focus. I tend to get drawn in by a concept or idea to the point where it consumes me. To varying levels of success I’ve attempted to integrate them into my work and my life. At the moment, I’m currently consumed by the emerging concept of permaculture. Admittedly foreign to the advertising world, permaculture is an ecological design science. It’s a lens for observing the natural world in order to create living systems that work with nature rather than against it. As a plant enthusiast, permaculture has some obvious appeal for me but as a graphic designer, my interest is a bit more nuanced. I find the overlap of skills from visual to ecological design fascinating. Observing an ecosystem through the seasons and discovering it’s patterns is reminiscent of watching advertising ripple through it’s own seasons. In the same way that culture and trends shape the dialogue between advertisers and consumers, so too does the environmental conditions shape the way species communicate and interact with each other. From packaging to web design, I continually find my permaculture studies informing and shaping my graphic design work. It’s about facilitating and capitalizing on those natural energy and resource flows—something I think can apply to all of the design disciplines. This summer, I hope to learn even more by completing my first permaculture design certificate program. Currently, I work for IN Food Marketing & Design in the North Loop. Being able to immerse myself in this industry, I’ve found that sustainability and food can, and should, go hand-in-hand. I enjoy working in that middle gray area where you can bring a brand’s story to life in a way that inspires positive change. I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with my team to develop brands and packaging that can actually have that type of impact. In the future, I hope to continue to work on projects that facilitate a real connection with people. Above all, I hope to continue to tell stories through my work and inspire people to be more sustainable in their own lives. Whether it’s through conventional graphic design methods, the emerging science of permaculture or a crazy eco-design hybrid, I’m not entirely sure. Seems like you landed in just the right place. So, what led you to where you’re at now? Well, when I look back, I find it was often a result of pursuing my passions rather than seizing any specific moments that got me here. In my early years, I was usually outside exploring, climbing trees or building forts. I’ve always loved working with my hands and I distinctly remember wanting to be a carpenter when I grew up. As I got older, I found myself increasingly drawn to the arts. I loved exploring the various mediums and found myself at home with drawing and painting. After several successes with competitions in high school, I landed on a career in graphic design and applied to the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Prior to college, I hadn’t taken a single design or graphics course. However, a summer spent creating my own snowboard inspired clothing brand taught me to use the creative suite and helped me catch up with other students. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the U, and I found my intuitive artistic process gradually transforming into rational design thinking. I rounded out my studies by working at The Wake Student Magazine as a designer and production manager and later at as part of the design team for the UMN Recreation and Wellness. With these creative upgrades, I also managed to refine my artistic tendencies into more valuable illustration skills and fell in love with branding and logo design. More recently, permaculture design has become pervasive throughout my life. Sparked by a senior thesis project on sustainability, I’ve never been able to put the topic down. To keep up with my appetite, I’ve been tending a community garden plot and developing my family’s Northwest Wisconsin cabin property to be more bio-diverse and sustainable. Now working at IN Food Marketing & Design, I’ve been able to work on branding and packaging projects specifically from the food industry. I love the fast paced work environment where my passion for growing food and plants can intersect with my creativity. I’ve learned so much over the short time I’ve worked here and I hope to stick around and continue learning as much as I can! It seems like sustainability is really important to you and that’s cool. Now that we know more about you, let’s talk about the work. What are your top three favorite projects? Designing in the real world has been incredibly interesting. During my relatively short time at IN, I’ve been able to design things I never imagined I’d get to work on. I’ve been able to wear a lot of hats and have learned so much from my amazing design team. So far, my favorite project from my time here has been developing the logo and packaging for E&C’s new snack, Hunkola. With the playful nature of the granola/cookie hunks themselves, my team and I really had room to be creative and explore solutions. Made from natural ingredients, the goal was to create something bold and unique for the category while also remaining compatible with the look and feel of their original cookie, Heavenly Hunks. The result? A package with lots of personality that’s sophisticated enough for those who demand real quality and ingredients from their snacks. The next project I’d like to showcase is the Eyesky concept I created during my senior year. This was a self-initiated project that I originally hoped would round out my print-focused portfolio. The concept was driven by an interest in constellations and a simple fascination with the night sky. I wanted to create something that actively engaged with people’s lives and caused them to look up more often. I played with the style until I settled on something I felt would be efficient during nighttime use while also feeling a bit mysterious. I wanted to convey how rewarding simply admiring our nightly companions can be. While the app itself is only a concept, I still love the idea of begin able to set alarms and notifications based on where the moon or a particular constellation is in the sky. The last “project” is actually a selection of logos I’ve crafted over the years. When I first started getting into graphic design, “making logos” was what I thought it was all about. Since then, I’ve acquired a better understanding of the industry but still find myself constantly doodling logos in my spare time. I find the whole process, from ideation to production, incredibly stimulating. When I do get to create a real logo for an actual client, I love to immerse myself in their brand and really understand their story to convey it as genuinely and accurately as possible. I relish soaking up the little details that can lead to sparks of inspiration. If I could do logos and illustration exclusively for the rest of my career I’d probably be okay with that! Great work. Are there any cool new projects coming up that you can talk about (ad related or not)? If so, what excites you about them? Outside of advertising, I’m excited to be taking my first permaculture design certification course as I mentioned earlier. This means by the end of the summer, I should be able to use the term “permaculture” in a professional sense. This is exciting because I’ll be able to directly apply my design thinking skills with permaculture design techniques in the real world, for real clients. Nothing is on the horizon right now as far as actual work goes, but I’m hoping my family’s Northwoods property will become a portfolio piece as it develops over the next few years. Someday, I hope to be able to freelance graphic & permaculture design from my own sustainable farm! We’re just about ready to wrap up. Just curious, have you won any awards for your work? Nothing worth mentioning. Thanks, Sean. Check out more of Sean’s work on his website: http://seanquinncreative.com And be sure to check out our last feature, Joey Mueller.