Alumni Stories

Stephanie Spensley


Graphic Designer for Fresh Thyme Farmers Market
The Illinois Institute of Art — Schaumburg


[My education] prepared me well for my career. I was always more illustrative and the school's faculty was great about integrating design with traditional art. Stephanie Spensley , Graphic Designer for Fresh Thyme Farmers Market Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration & Design, 2014 , The Illinois Institute of Art — Schaumburg

Graphic Designer for Fresh Thyme Farmers Market

Stephanie Spensley is a graphic designer for Fresh Thyme Farmers Market in Illinois. She’s responsible for creating collateral for web and print campaigns. “There is a lot of creative freedom, provided I meet the company's brand standards, so I enjoy that very much,” she says. Prior to her current position, Stephanie’s freelance experience during and after graduation helped her to earn a job as a sign artist for Trader Joe's. Stephanie describes her job as bright, colorful, and creative. “My boss is open to suggestions and ideas and our team really just wants to make the company amazing. I think my coming from a competitor also helps me to make an impact.” Today, her work is seen by shoppers from Nevada to Kentucky.

Her typical work day includes checking emails, meeting with her boss, and working on projects. She says that her education was beneficial because it integrated design and traditional art—she recommends that students who might be more interested in illustration consider a program that blends these two areas.

Stephanie admits that there were tough days at school but says that her creative passion and her friends helped her to push through. Today, when she experiences work challenges, she leans on her experience and desire to keep growing as an artist. “The hardest thing in my career is finding someone that will give you a shot. A lot of companies want an impossible amount of experience, combined with your current age, and it's unrealistic. So I kept practicing, I kept working, I took on more freelance work and bulked up my portfolio until it was strong enough.”

Because illustration is Stephanie’s passion, she often analyzes or critiques the work she sees. “I think, ‘how would I have gone about that?’ It drives my friends crazy but really it's what I love doing and it always has been.”

Stephanie, who in 2014 earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration & Design from The Illinois Institute of Art—Schaumburg, says to keep on top of her game, she follows other artists on Instagram, Tumblr, and in magazines. “Seeing the work they constantly produce motivates me to keep going.” She also networks to gain industry connections. “Never stop what you [love to] do and get out and meet new people that challenge you to be the best you can be.”

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