Lindi Biery, an environmental graphic designer based in our Boston Office, tells us what sparked her interest in the A/E industry and why she is passionate about environmental graphics.
Tell us about your transition from a graphic design student to becoming an environmental graphics designer in the A/E industry.
The beginning of my transition from graphic design student to environmental graphic designer happened during my junior year at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art). My best friend and I decided to sign up for a lesser known elective class that looked interesting to us: Environmental Graphics. At the time, I had been somewhat struggling trying to figure out what “kind” of graphic designer I wanted to be. There were many classes focusing on web/app design, UX design, and motion graphics but none of these really felt really fulfilling to me — even though I was a T.A. for one of them! My dad owns his own construction company, and growing up he and my mom designed and built most of the houses we lived in. That’s probably why I’ve always been keenly aware of and have a great appreciation for the ways which spaces and environments impact us.
The Environmental Graphics course seemed like the perfect way to marry my interest of 2D design and appreciation for 3D spaces. I ended up being so interested that I ended up auditing the class – on top of a full course load and internship because I couldn’t get enough! After I graduated, I joined the Environmental Graphic Design group here at CannonDesign, and I hit the ground running. While my classic Graphic Design training was immensely useful, I had a lot to learn in regards to making my 2D designs into 3D signs and exhibits. Over the past five years my technical understanding and execution has grown exponentially and I now have the ability to make (almost) all of the designs I dream up into a physical reality.
What’s something that most people don’t know about what environmental graphic design encompasses?
I think the wide breadth of project types and expertise typically surprises most people about environmental graphics. When someone asks me what I do, my typical elevator speech lists environmental graphic design as signage and wayfinding systems, graphic programs, exhibit design and spatial branding. Within each of those buckets, there is a lot of variety and nuance and detail depending on project type, scale, and scope. However, the overarching theme is the visual communication of a message – or the brand or even the story – within an environment.
One thing that I think people misunderstand is that signage is just “code required signage” and is therefore an afterthought or boring. In reality, a ton of thoughtful planning goes into figuring out how to circulate and navigate people throughout a space. While signs are certainly functional, they have the potential to be really beautiful and sculptural pieces of art as well.
How did you get your start at CannonDesign?
During the spring semester of my senior year of college, I was contacted by a recruiter from CannonDesign. The head of the Graphic Design Department at MICA referred me to the recruiter, knowing of my growing excitement for environmental graphics. Shortly after, I had my first conversation with Chris Hayes, the leader of our Environmental Graphics Group and a fellow MICA alum — and I was instantly sold on the group’s design philosophy and portfolio. Determined to be a part of CannonDesign’s EGD team, I continued demonstrate my enthusiasm for the position by persistently reaching out over the following months. My persistence paid off! I joined the EGD group in June following my graduation that spring and haven’t looked back since.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
I always joke that my favorite part of my job is that I’m never bored! This might seem like a flippant answer, but in actuality, it’s the sincere truth. For me, every day is a new adventure in terms of what kind of work I will be tackling. The variety of our projects – scales and scopes of all sizes, the range of project types, and the diversity of our clients – presents me with new opportunities and new challenges to meet every day. For example, one day I will be tackling a wayfinding system for a large hospital, striving to develop a system which makes the user’s experience as stress-free as possible; and the next day, I’ll be designing an experiential graphics program for a University Rec Center which communicates the vision of the student body. Most days, you’ll find me doing a little of both!
There is one constant in all this variety though, and that’s the fulfilment I get from knowing that if I’ve done my job well, in some way big or small, I will have positively impacted someone’s experience – and hopefully their day.