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Graduates 2009: Liz Plahn

Posted by Will Hudson,

Liz Plahn is a graphic designer living and working in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She’s also our graduate of the day and studied at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design where she received a BFA in graphic design.

With a passion for design that lies in creating work that explores and combines art, design, literature and research in a cohesive, narrative structures, Liz hopes to incorporate a little travel with her desire to keep learning at a job that she feels passionate about. Hoping to make enough money to get by, Liz is a big believer in karma, so tends to believe that things will fall into place if they’re meant to. We’re sure she’ll be alright as her portfolio already shows…

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I think I always wanted to be a graphic designer, but it took me a long time before I finally figured out that the things I wanted to do were, in fact, ‘graphic design’. I remember totally loving SPIN magazine’s design in the early 2000’s. They were doing some really interesting things with typography and basic graphic elements, and I remember telling my mother that I wanted to be a part of that. The desire probably started earlier than that, but I think that was the first time design had a big impact on me.

In reflection, how bad was your work in the first year?

I did mostly drawing, illustration and interactive work my first year; I didn’t take a graphic design course until my second year. I would say my work then was very unrefined and I didn’t have much confidence in what I was doing; this was probably because I was drawing a lot and was convinced I was no good at it. I struggled a lot in the beginning, and really questioned whether art school was right for me. My first design class with the brilliant Kindra Murphy was when everything fell into place. I realized that graphic design was the place where all my interest in typography, research and aesthetics collided. From then on I had no doubts that design was what I wanted to be doing, and I’d like to think my work has steadily progressed since.

If you could show a piece of your folio to one person, what piece would you choose, and who would you show it to?

I’d love to just sit down and have coffee with Sophie Calle sometime. I think she’s pretty magical and really admire the honesty and idiosyncrasies found in her work.

If you had your own business, who would you employ and why?

Kevin Wade Shaw and Rob Matthews, because they keep me excited about the possibilities of design and creative thinking.

If you’ve got any left, what will you spend the last of your student loan on?

I don’t have any left, but if I did I would put it towards a vacation to Australia.

Where will we find you in 12 months?

I’ll either be in Minneapolis or have moved to the east coast. I interned at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art last summer, and the experience made me really passionate a career somewhere within in cultural institutions. Above all, my hope is that in a year I’ll be working somewhere, alongside smart and driven people, making things I believe in.

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Posted by Will Hudson

Will founded It’s Nice That in 2007 and is now director of the company. Once one of the main contributors to the site he has stepped back from writing as the business has expanded. He is a regular guest on the Studio Audience podcast.