From art student to professional designer: What they don’t teach you in school

Mary Anderson, who will be speaking at SUU Thursday night. Undated | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University, St. George News

CEDAR CITY — A university alumna will give a presentation at the Southern Utah Museum of Art Thursday, sharing how she transitioned from being an art and design student to a working professional – the failures, successes that go along with that and what they don’t teach you in school.

The presentation by Mary Anderson, a Southern Utah University alumna, is part of the university’s Art Insights program and will be given at 7 p.m. at SUMA with free admission for the public.

Anderson has always been an art and design enthusiast. Growing up, her mother encouraged her creativity, buying her art supplies and taking her to museums.

“I was focused on design before I really understood what it was,” Anderson said. “All I knew was that I liked to make things function better and to look pretty. I was that kid who spent three hours on my science fair project and several weeks designing my display. I would also retype my vocabulary sheets before studying because I didn’t like the typography.”

Her passion for design became a flame when she realized she could get paid for doing what she loved. She attended SUU, graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design.

When asked what the most rewarding part of her education was, Anderson jokingly answered, “Learning how to Photoshop my face so I can look fabulous all the time,” but added: 

I appreciate that my hand wasn’t always held. I had to learn how to make decisions and problem solve. I’ve found that to be empowering. I’d also add the friendships that were made. Life is so much better when you’re surrounded by creative and inspiring individuals.

Anderson currently works at Instructure Inc. as the senior product designer. She defines her work as intentional design with a simple, modern style. She backs each of her designs with research and has a reason for every color and the placement of each pixel.

“I love that I am able to use design to solve real-world problems,” she said. “The work that I do helps improve education and simplifies people’s lives.”

Art Insights is hosted during the fall and spring semesters by SUU’s Art & Design faculty. Students and community members meet to experience presentations and discussions by visiting artists and art educators from around the nation who share their work and insights.

Event details

  • What: Art Insights presentation by SUU art and design alumna Mary Anderson 
  • When: Thursday, April 6, at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Southern Utah Museum of Art in The Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts at the corner of University and 300 West on the campus of Southern Utah University, Cedar City.
  • Cost: Free admission, public invited.

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