Leila Bartholet was first exposed to design while working for a literary arts magazine at her university. A year after graduating, she discovered Shillington and enrolled in the full-time course in New York, further developing her creative aesthetic which she calls “edgy and experimental.” Leila has been selected as a Student to Watch for 2019, profiled by Creative Digest and featured in the 25 female creatives list by Creative Boom. She now works as a designer for a media and branding agency, Chandelier.
Read on to find out about her favorite briefs from the course, learn about the projects she’s worked on for social change and her backpacking adventure.
While studying at Pitzer College, you fell in love with design after being a part of the design team for the literary arts magazine at the school. What made you decide to study at Shillington a year later?
I saw the grad portfolios and was impressed. On top of that, I didn’t read one bad review. I will say it was spontaneous, but I’m so glad I decided on Shillington.
Do you find that your studies in philosophy and psychology helped you as a designer?
Philosophy has taught me to think abstractly and conceptualize almost anything, so developing design concepts come easily to me.
What were your favorite projects from the course?
My favorite project was my The Art of Math/The Math of Art campaign for MoMA. I wanted to show that math can be creative and art can be mathematical. I used shapes that can be viewed in two different ways. I thought this illusion was beautiful but also took precision to create. The name of the event also had two different ways of reading. The way the words are laid out, you can read the title The Art of Math or The Math of Art. Again, this was done to stress the importance of art in math and math in art.
I also really enjoyed the magazine I designed (Ugly Baby) because editorial design was my first love. I enjoy messing with simple fonts, and that’s what I did with Ugly Baby.
Lastly, I drew inspiration from my first favorite graphic designer (David Carson) and created beer cans. I originally made the design for a poster but after wrapping it around a beer can I decided it was more of David Carson’s style.
What did you enjoy the most about the full-time course?
For me, learning design was like learning a different language and I found the full-time course to be like a complete immersion.
I lived, breathed, and sweated design for three months and came out fluent.
What #1 piece of advice can you offer to a new student starting at Shillington?
Look at good design as much as you can. If you like Instagram, flood your feed with your favorite designers or studios.
How is your experience working at Chandelier Creative so far?
Working at Chandelier has been such a great experience. The other creatives are young and energetic. My bosses and mentors are truly inspiring and I have already learned so much from their years of experience. My routine changes daily, depending on where we are in production, but you can usually find me creating campaign concepts, designing print or social media assets or mocking up product designs.
I’m currently working on designing invitations/space for Planned Parenthood Spring Gala but here are a few images from a social campaign I did for Downtown for Democracy at Austin City Limits music festival.
What do you love about being a designer?
Being creative and working with other creatives is such a privilege. I also love that Chandelier has let me work on projects that I care about and can cause political change, like the Planned Parenthood Gala and Downtown for Democracy social campaign.
What’s your advice to a recent design graduate who wants to land a job at a design studio similar to Chandelier?
Be memorable. Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks.
Along with my resume, I sent Chandelier a line of simple white thongs that I had created a brand around. The concept of the brand was tied to them hiring me at Chandelier. Of course, don’t take a risk that’s not supported with a strong purpose/concept.
What creative people are you loving at the moment?
One of your long term goals is to start a magazine! What kind of content would you like to produce? Have you always been drawn to editorial design?
Yes, ever since the beginning of my design interest, I have been largely attracted to editorial design. I am not sure exactly what kind of content I would be looking to produce but it would be visually heavy (photos, drawings) with some small creative writing (poetry, short stories).
Are there any projects you’re currently working on or some interesting freelance gigs?
Recently, I have been doing paintings/collages inspired by Greg Gossel and Andy Warhol. I’m interested in doing graphic design style work but on a canvas instead of the computer. I love working with my hands when doing graphic design (you can ask my Shillington professors about my obsession with the scanner) which is why I think I am so attracted to editorial/print design. Having a physical finished project is so fulfilling.
Describe yourself and your creative style.
I’m easygoing and spontaneous. My style is edgy and experimental.
What do you enjoy doing for fun?
I love to go backpacking. I independently hiked the Camino de Santiago—a 500-mile pilgrimage spanning from France to Spain. When not designing or outdoors, I love to write poetry, watch horror movies and brew beer.
What motto do you live by?
“The world is, of course, nothing but our conception of it.”—Anton Chekhov
Want to learn more about studying graphic design at Shillington? Learn about our 3 month full-time and 9 month part-time course in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.