Today’s interview will be with a talented designer named Andrea Grieco. She owns and runs her own design studio in Pittsburgh. Andrea focuses on her clients’ needs, staying with them from the very beginning to the very end. I find Andrea’s drive and dedication to the craft of design inspirational.
Go check out her site to see her portfolio and to drop her a line to say hello!

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ep: Could you please describe your creative process?
Andrea:
I start with a strategic consultation with the client. They are asked to provide any inspirations or ideas they have, what their goal for the project is, who their audience is, what kind of budget we’re working with, and the schedule. We discuss their brand; if they don’t have a clear brand, I help them to develop one that works for their company. 

Next, concept work is begun. If I need to consult with any vendors, this is the time to do it so. 

Then sketching begins. This entails reference to inspirations I’ve gathered over the years, or new ones just found yesterday. I write out a list of words describing the project, and begin sketching images, layouts, & color schemes. Hand drawn sketches are shown to the client.

Once one has been chosen as a starting point, I start drawing up computer images. 

Usually it takes a few rounds before a final image is produced, at which time I begin my prepress work. This entails detailed technical work on each electronic file to ensure that the printer will receive what his/her press needs. This ultimately saves clients large printer fees, because if the designer doesn’t do this work then the pressman has to, and charges for it. I go on press checks when necessary, to be sure everything is being produced the way we envisioned it.

The final product is sent to the client directly from the printer, and I usually ask the client if they would agree to having the printer send me one copy for my portfolio, too. This way I can track my work and have samples to show potential clients. Final electronic files are delivered to the client as their property, unless otherwise specified.

ep: What is your favorite piece you created and why is this your favorite piece?
Andrea:
My favorite piece currently is the DHMC bike shirt, because it was the most creative and different piece I had done in a while.

ep: If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to yourself 5 years ago?
Andrea:
Find the right target audience for your business’ client base and focus your time and money developing long-term relationships with just those people and companies. Only accept paying jobs; working for the “carrot” is usually just a way for people to get you to work for free. Bid jobs allow for the designers’ concepts/ideas to be out there for the taking, and they disrespect the design field in general.

ep: Apart from creating/designing things, what do you like to do?
Andrea:
I’ve recently taken up crochet and bowling! Love the look and feel of crochet; and it’s a wonderful way to relax with the TV or chat in a group of others doing a yarn craft. Bowling is actually great exercise and again, a great way to connect to people if done in a league, which I’ve joined with a family member.

ep: How did you start out in design?
Andrea:
I had a minor in art in college, then when I moved to NYC in the mid 90’s I discovered Powerpoint at my job. Had the idea that design would be a great way to continue to have an artistic outlet while making money to live. Bought myself some books on teaching yourself Illustrator, Photoshop, and Quark, took a few day long seminars for each, then took some tests at temp agencies which eventually placed me into a Production Artist job at a large book publisher. That company offered tuition reimbursement, so I took advantage of that and got my AS in Graphic Design from Parsons School of Design in 2003. Been freelancing and working for design/ad agencies ever since.

ep: What inspires you/where do you find your inspirations?
Andrea:
Moving away from NYC was very sad in the sense that I miss all the inspiration that’s literally everywhere. So now I have a list of design/artistic websites I browse thru each day, as well as my Interview magazine that I still love to get (it keeps me connected to the NYC scene). If I happen to get something in the mail that I love, I’ll post it on my wall in my office, or put it in my book of inspirations. I keep a folder on my computer of screen shots of inspirations I’ve come across over the years too. Visiting local design studios has helped too; and I have a monthly meeting with a design team where we just talk about what’s new in the industry and check out everyone’s work.

ep: Coffee or tea?
Andrea:
Depends! but if I had to choose, then it’d be regular tea with lots of lemon and honey.

ep: What is your comfort food?
Andrea:
Chocolate, what else?? well, maybe mac and cheese too!

ep: Do you have a favorite quote? What is it and why is it your favorite?
Andrea:
The one I like for my persona life is part of a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Be not the slave of your own past
Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far
So you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience,
That shall explain and overlook the old.”

The two I like for my professional life are from the Dalai Lama:
“Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.”
“Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.”

ep: What’s in your freezer right now?
Andrea:
A lot of freezer-burned food and some vanilla ice cream

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Thank you Andrea for participating in the Tuesdays with feature! Good luck with your continued success with your business!

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