Featured Artist Q&A: Sarah Brown

by Samantha Warren


If you have been following Imprint for a while, you may have noticed that we have a new look and feel this semester. Our new logo and brand are the work of Sarah Brown, a graphic designer and UCF student. She currently works as the Lead Designer for the UCF Student Union, and we know her talents will take her far in the art world.

We sat down for a Q&A session with Sarah to talk about her talents and all things design. Keep reading to learn more about her!

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a graphic designer?

A: Growing up, I always wanted to be a writer. I was a supremely bookish kid who thought that nothing would be better than to one day be a professional creator of stories just like the ones I loved. In fact, I got my first experience with design around age 13 on two teen writing sites (now sadly dissolved) called Inkpress and Figment, where I wrote short stories and designed “covers” for them using an old version of Photoshop. I also eventually offered my design services in the respective forums, and made covers for others and their stories just for fun. After a few years, I gradually stopped visiting those sites, but the seed had been planted. It’s a common experience that the things you do just for fun as a child, the things you’re drawn to and dabble in, can end up being incredibly indicative of your future path.

So, I forgot about design for a while, but then, as I entered high school, there happened to be a 3-year graphic design track called Digital Media. It sounded interesting to me—I’d get to play with Photoshop more! So I signed up. Little did I know how much of an impact the guidance of my teacher, Mr. Strattan, would have on my future direction. Graphic design was so much more than short story covers, I learned–it was a deep art and science. Over the course of three years, with Mr. Strattan’s enthusiastic and informative teaching, I fell in love with graphic design as a whole and went on to become certified in 3 Adobe programs, become the school newspaper editor and designer, the yearbook designer and editor-in-chief, and the founder of a literary magazine for the high school, called The Cyclone.

I flourished in high school in the Digital Media program, and I learned that I loved crafting stories visually even more than I did writing them. I felt that there was a definite place for me in the world of visual media, where I could ultimately combine my love of communication and stories with the power of good design.

Q: What type of graphic design work do you enjoy the most?

A: I enjoy design work that involves consolidating information into easily comprehensible and beautiful packages—whether that be in the form of a book layout, a brochure, a logo system, a poster…

There’s an alluring challenge that lies in trying to reveal the heart of a process, idea, organization, or story. How can that be represented to the target audience in the best way? I think one of the biggest goals of designers is to ask ourselves this question: How can we strip away the excess fluff to reveal identity and authenticity in its most potent form?

One of my favorite quotes about design, by Joe Sparano, a graphic designer for Oxide Design Co., goes like this: “Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.” What that means is that good design, a thing adeptly and artfully designed, stands out and maybe makes you think to yourself, “Huh, that’s pretty dang good.” But great design is the stuff that fits seamlessly into the folds of life—design that doesn’t necessarily call attention to itself with its showiness, but simply presents the information in the best, most thoughtful, most available and clever way possible. Great design seems as though it has always existed—it is timeless, the most articulate and accurate representation of its concept. There is often less of a personalized human hand in it, and more of a universal human understanding. I aim to achieve this clarity and understanding as much as I can.

Q: Who is your biggest inspiration in the design world?

A: Inspirations abound in the design world, and I’m not sure that I can pick favorites! I tend to get inspired not by the work of one designer, but by random things I see around me in the world or on the web. Everything integrates itself into a visual library, a compendium of ideas and experiences that just keeps growing as I get older and refine my practice.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

A: I’m still not sure exactly where I want to end up in the industry, but in five years I predict that I’ll be working as a designer for either a publications company or a creative agency, either doing layout work or helping brand small businesses. I also love freelance work, the fun projects that pop up from time to time, and I hope to manage a freelance design career on the side as well. I currently run an Etsy shop, where I sell some of my watercolor art prints, which I aspire to continue growing as well.

Q: Outside of your design work, what do you enjoy doing?

A: I love painting, which I suppose is another branch of design, but a more traditional one. It’s nice to get away from the computer sometimes and embrace the free-flow and unpredictability of a brush. Watercolor is my favorite medium. I also love spending time with my amazing boyfriend, Evan, my friends, and literally any dog I come across! In my spare time, you’ll definitely find me brewing huge pots of coffee, reading, cooking fun vegetarian recipes, and keeping up with my Etsy shop.

Q: Mac or Windows?

A: Mac all the way! The crisp and hyper-accurate retina display of Macs are crucial for work as a designer, where even the slightest changes in the display of a color, or an overlooked detail, can affect the overall impact of the work. (We young designers are Mac people. Ask any of us, really!)

Q: What has been the most valuable experience you have gained in working for the UCF Student Union?

A: Undoubtedly, working at the UCF Student Union has given me the opportunity to grow by leaps and bounds outside of class and find real world applications for my design skills. Having a way to work on campus within my industry has been totally invaluable.

My first year as a designer at the Union, my junior year, I had the pleasure and the privilege to be mentored closely by Logan Liffick, a senior and incredible designer who became a great friend and taught me, honestly, much of what I know about design. This year, having stepped into his shoes as the Lead Designer at the Union, I get to oversee two other designers—both of whom are exceptionally talented and I’m so proud to have them on the team.

On the marketing team at the Union, the six of us students have become a very close-knit group of thinkers and creatives who encourage and support each other to share our unique skills. We get to help put on fun events for students like the Welcome Back Welcome Packs, Trivia Tuesday, Swag Cab, Pumpkin Palooza, and more; we help host Study Union each fall and spring; help manage SU employee communications; and help tend to general aesthetic upkeep. Our ultimate goal is to make the Student Union an inviting and exciting place for students to spend their time on campus. We work to create an engaging environment so that students can reach their full potential in the UCF community and beyond!

We are so grateful for Sarah’s incredible work for Imprint! If you’d like to connect with her, be sure to check out her portfolio on Behance, follow her art Instagram account, and browse her Etsy shop!