To The Women Who Have Inspired Me

March 16, 2017

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have had so many opportunities in my life where I’ve been able to learn from strong, talented, badass women. Growing up, I had many strong female role models among my family, teachers, and friends, and in my adult and professional life, this list has only continued to grow. To celebrate the women who have had a big impact on the way I view my life and career as a designer, I reflected on of some of my favorite inspirational experiences.


Finding yourself is the most important thing in the universe.”

I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed college student when I heard Jessica Hische speak these words. It was my first time attending Design Camp and I was eating up every word of her keynote about self-awareness and design. I was furiously scribbling notes, trying not to miss a single word. I was an impressionable twenty-year-old, eager to go make my mark on the world, and she was saying all the things I needed to hear. It was during her lecture that I knew that I was meant to be a designer.

Jessica Hische is a letterer, illustrator and type designer. Her roster of clients includes: Wes Anderson Penguin Books, The New York Times, Tiffany & Co., American Express, Victoria’s Secret, Chronicle Books, Nike and Samsung, among others. Some of her accolades include Forbes 30 under 30, Print New Visual Artist, ADC Young Gun, and GDUSA Person to Watch.

Jessica Hische

“The longest way round is the shortest way home.”

Debbie Millman kicked off her keynote with this famous quote, immediately setting the tone. I had the opportunity to hear Debbie speak at the same design conference as Jessica Hische. While she was just as inspirational and cool, her topic of failure and rejection was incredibly moving. At one point she shared her list of “10 Things I Wish I Knew Sooner” with us. It’s a list I still reference every now and then to remind myself that I don’t need to have everything figured out yet and that the struggle is part of the story. My favorite from that list is: “Busy is a decision. It’s about making the time. If you really want to – do it.”

Debbie Millman is a writer, educator, artist, brand consultant and host of the radio show Design Matters. She was named “one of the most influential designers working today” by Graphic Design USA. For 20 years, Debbie was the president of the design division at Sterling Brands, where she worked with more than 200 of the world’s largest brands.

Debbie Millman

“Think of your creative gifts as more than what you do for a living.”

My second year attending Design Camp brought another amazing woman into my life – Sue Crolick. Her lecture was about the power of starting over and how we can use our creative skills to reimagine our lives. The way she has handled adversity with such grace and determination is admirable. She started her advertising career in the “Mad Men” era and worked her way up to become one of the first female art directors in the Twin Cities. In addition to blazing trails for women in design, Sue also started the local nonprofit Art Buddies. I had the privilege of meeting Sue last fall when I volunteered with Art Buddies. (I only gushed a little bit about how she was one of my idols – she was very humble and sweet about it.)

In addition to being an art director at two of Minneapolis’ largest ad agencies, Sue Crolick ran her own design firm for a number of years and throughout her career has won the top awards in the ad industry: Golds from the One Show and New York Art Directors Club, Best of Shows and the Silver Medal from the Advertising Federation of Minnesota, and awards from Communication Arts, Graphis, Print and AIGA.

Sue Crolick

“Being comfortable in your own skin and being authentic will get you far.”

Julie Anixter is easily one of the most animated, passionate and wise women I have ever met. Not long after becoming the Executive Director of AIGA, she visited the AIGA Minnesota chapter last spring, and I was fortunate enough to attend her brunch discussion with fellow emerging designers. She was so engrossed in her own stories and advice that she was getting up from the table to move around and barely touched her food. I was completely enthralled; I took so many notes I filled up four pages in my sketchbook. She had so many great insights and wise bits of advice. My favorites include: creativity is fundamental to existence; being successful is about being agile; and it’s important to be able to tell your stories.

Julie Anixter has been a vocal advocate for the power of design for over twenty years. Her career has spanned the business, education, and public sectors and she has worked with brands and institutions including Chanel, GE, P&G, Roche and the U.S. Military.

Julie Anixter

I will forever be thankful to these women for sharing such important lessons and for being so inspirational in their own unique ways. I know without a doubt that the experiences I had learning from them will be of value throughout the rest of my life.