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May Member of the Month: Gretchen Schisla

Written by
AIGA Saint Louis
Published
May 10, 2016

Gretchen Schisla
Enrich_email_logoFounder and Principal, Enrich Creative
Associate Professor of Graphic Design, University of Missouri, St. Louis

I believe that design matters. It’s a crucial tool to communicate a purpose and make a significant difference — that’s why I am an avid supporter of the St. Louis design community, why I am proud to serve clients in the healthy food and wellness space, 
and why I teach.

As Founder and Principal of Enrich, I work with a passionate team that is dedicated 
to helping influencers who support healthy living and lifestyle as medicine. Through branding and messaging, we work with individuals, organizations and companies who act as agents for positive change.

With over 35 years of experience in the graphic design profession and as an entrepreneur, I am inspired by visionary leaders who challenge the status quo on their quest for knowledge and excellence. This is also why teaching is so important to me.

I am one of several full-time faculty members teaching graphic design and branding at the University of Missouri, St. Louis — our program serves over 100 graphic design majors. UMSL students are a resourceful group of gifted creatives who work harder than anyone I know. I absolutely love working with them! Over the past 14 years, it has been gratifying to help build and sustain a distinctive program with a reputation for graduating outstanding students. Literally hundreds of young designers have gone on to pursue rewarding careers in the St. Louis design community and beyond. It means the world to know I’m a part of their success.

I am proud to be part of AIGA and former co-president of the St. Louis chapter. 
I received my BFA in Graphic Design from Missouri State University and an MFA in Graphic Design from Boston University.

My current position and a typical day:
I divide my time between two jobs that I love: Enrich and UMSL. Three days a week I’m at Enrich in the CWE, serving clients in the healthy food and wellness niche, spending time with my co-workers and enjoying our awesome workspace. Two days a week I teach at UMSL, covering the foundation year and the senior year in the graphic design program. When classes aren’t in session during summer and winter breaks, I’m at Enrich every day.

How do you feel about working in St. Louis and the Midwest?
Our design community has some of the best talent anywhere, and St. Louis offers a high quality graphic design education with local universities. The AIGA St. Louis chapter has provided a vital connection for many years. I’m always grateful to everyone who commits serious amounts of time and energy to our chapter. I did this early on – the ongoing dedication and commitment of board members is remarkable.

What’s the most satisfying part of any design project? 
For me, the best part of any design project is helping the client find clarity in what they are developing and providing powerful communication tools to reach their audience. In 2012, when Enrich chose to serve clients in the healthy food and wellness space, our passion went deeper. We’ve been able to help organizations such as The Plantrician Project, The International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference, American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Green Lagoon Wellbeing Resort and Fred & Ricky’s Plant-based Foods. I consider myself lucky to be part of this movement towards preventing lifestyle disease.

When was the first time you knew you wanted to work in design/art?

I was 6 years old when I participated in a children’s program at St. Louis Art Museum with my mom and siblings. The museum space and paintings astounded me. I loved Edward Hopper and Ansel Adams as a teen. My early love of fine art, museums and photography evolved into BFA and MFA degrees in graphic design.

What advice would you give clients?
Be clear about your goals in the creative brief and trust in the expertise of your creative team to solve the problem in the most impactful way. Also, building relationships and collaboration is key. The process with your creative team should be enjoyable and take the pressure off of you. If you focus on working together, it will lighten your job load and help you to shine.

What skill sets will be required of a creative in 2016?
A designer should possess strong conceptual and problem solving skills and the ability to demonstrate a depth of understanding about graphic design, social design and interdisciplinary work. He/she should have a specific area of interest they have cultivated an expertise in – it can be one or several of the following: branding, web, UI/UX, motion, illustration, typography. Being a strong writer is a plus. Self-direction, time management and good people skills are essential.

What would you like to tell future designers?
You’ve heard it before: Devote your time and talent to a career that you can’t wait to pursue every day. Be curious, keep pushing and learning about design and technology. Travel to meet people, see beautiful places, and expand your world and your knowledge base. Lose any fear you might have about the future.

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