Designer Spotlight: A Q&A With Steph Novak

Designer Spotlight: A Q&A With Steph Novak

We ran our first #CraftandRootContest and designers from all over the world answered our call!

We are excited to present the winning selection from Steph Novak.  Her inspiring business card design sparked curiosity to get to know her better, so we caught up and went behind the scenes with this Designer Spotlight Q&A. Enjoy!

Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself (age, hometown, career, hobbies, etc.)

A. I’m 27, and grew up in Berwick, Pennsylvania, just an hour outside of Scranton (shout out to any fans of The Office). Currently, I am an associate designer for CPEX Real Estate in Brooklyn. I started as an intern in August 2017 and became full time after I graduated from Parsons School of Design in December.

My hobbies include keeping up on any/every E! Network show, staying current with all things celebrity and pop culture, enjoying a good IPA, and reading. I love reading autobiographies of successful entrepreneurs and seeing their trials and tribulations to understand how they paved their own way to reach their goals.

My three favorite books by far are Beyond the Label by Maureen Chiquet, How to Become an Overnight Success by Maria Hatzistefanis and Shoe Dog by Phil Knight.

Q. When did you become interested in design and why?

A. I became interested in design half way through my sophomore year while working toward my undergrad at King’s College in Pennsylvania. I originally was studying Psychology because I wanted to study human behavior to become a therapist, but I felt something was missing. I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled into Mass Communications, but I took one class and felt a connection instantly. I remember having my epiphany moment where I knew that this is how I wanted to spend my time.

I instantly switched my major to Mass Comm, without even talking to anyone about it. I knew it was more important for my future self to do what I wanted to do rather than what I felt I should be doing. It’s never boring, you’re always learning about yourself and time flies by in a blink of an eye when you’re working on something you enjoy and are fully invested in.

Q.  Who are your personal role models?

A.  Danielle Bernstien, brand creator of We Wore What
Jenné Lombardo, founder of The Terminal Presents & MADE Fashion Week
Lydia Pang, creative director at Refinery29
These women aren’t my role models because they’re graphic designers but because they are creators. They are the best examples of influencers, leaders and inspiration. They are basically my unsung mentors that I use for guidance.

Q. If you were to define your design aesthetic in three words, what would they be?

A. Eclectic. Contemporary. Bold.

Q. What’s been your most exciting project to date and why?

A. During my last semester at Parsons, we had a project to create a poster series. The challenges were that we had to create a main poster with three sub posters that had to 1. Be strong enough stand alone 2. Relate to the other three without any repeating parts and 3. Use three colors.

I wanted to do something that felt personal. Like all projects, getting started and finding ground is usually the most difficult part, which can lead to anxiety and the feeling of already failing before even beginning. Through these feelings, I came up with a subject in the most organic way that made the whole project more exciting to work on because I wasn’t forcing it.

I created my series on anxiety and 3 major forms of it based off illustrations from my perspective. It’s been my top favorite to date because for me I feel I truly captured something that’s been in my head and put it on paper. I hope whenever someone else looks at this series they can also relate.

Everyone has had their battles with anxiety, whether they know it or not, and it wasn’t until recent years, I personally feel, people have become more open about it. With the growth of social media and opening acceptance of societal views, I feel like we’re finally coming to terms with this feeling and getting answers, which ironically makes the feeling subside a little.

Q. What inspired the style of the business cards you designed for the #CraftandRootContest?

A. I’m a huge advocate of Pinterest. I think that that platform is such a great outlet for stirring up ideas and generating inspiration. Being on the cusp of fall, I’ve been really into searching for Fall inspired invitations with different color palettes that are warm and modern with a splash of vintage. We normally think of invitations as replicated, uniform design and I’ve been toying with the idea on how to break that grid, so I thought why not use this contest to have some fun with my idea. So, I knew for this business card, I wanted to create a series using the same grid while giving each card its own identity. It would be distinguished enough to stand on its own but cohesive enough to stand together as a unit.

Q. If you could create for any brand in the world, who would you choose and why?

A. To me, Refinery29 is one of the most innovative, evolving, cutting edge and diverse brands on the market. Not only do they talk about trends in fashion and media, but they are also up to date with current issues and have an open dialogue from every perspective. Their mission is one of the most compelling, and I recommend everyone to read it!

Q. What are you overall goals regarding your design career?

A. Ironically, this isn’t the first time I thought of this question today or this week. I just started reading the book, Never Eat Alone and the author writes, “Before you start writing down your goals, you’d better know what your dream is.”

To me, design is like a tree and from that tree, there are so many branches that grow in many directions. With my career being in its infancy stage, I know I’ve still got some expectations to surpass and some trees to climb.

Some short-term goals are to add another part of design to my resume, such as UX design or HTML. Personally, it’s important to me to keep learning, evolving and advancing my skill set. Also, I’d like to pick up some freelance work on the side to build my skills and portfolio.

My long-term goals are to grow my experience to a senior level and potentially work for a luxury brand or a brand involved in pop culture. I want to work for a company where I can see myself dedicating a large portion of my career and where we can both be a part of each other’s success. Then, one day, I’d like to become a creative director.

We want to extend a hearty thank you to everyone who entered our contest – we appreciate you sharing your art with us!

Please stay tuned by following us @craftandroot for more contests like this one.