First year design student Gillian Levine has already begun to make a name for herself. What started as a homework assignment turned into the back cover of the nationally recognized publication, Resist! during the Women’s March in January. We talk to her about her design process and the emotional connection to her work.
You’re in your first year at Seattle Central Creative Academy. What brought you here?
Although I’ve always enjoyed making things, I never considered a career as an artist. I grew up surrounded by a lot of creativity (my mom is an illustrator and my dad is a printmaker), but fine arts never really resonated with me. I worked as an administrative assistant for many years, and I finally reached a point where I knew I needed a change. My colleagues at my last job were very supportive of my art, and they pushed me to pursue a new career in design. Thanks in part to their encouragement, I found this program and applied. I looked at several schools, and Seattle Central Creative Academy seemed like the right place for me.
How has graphic design school been so far?
It’s been the best experience of my life. My classmates are so supportive and talented and inspiring, and I feel like I’ve already found kindred spirits. The teachers have been incredibly knowledgeable and encouraging, and I’m amazed by how much I’ve learned in the first quarter. I always thought of myself as an underachiever, but now I realize that I just wasn’t doing what I loved. It’s the most amazing feeling to love what you do, and to get positive feedback on hard work. If I didn’t have to sleep, I would probably be making art 24 hours a day!
Your poster for the Women’s march is phenomenal. How did you come up with the concept? What was your process?
I was assaulted by a man in my early 20s, and for many years I struggled with feelings of anger, resentment, and fear. I have also experienced sexism and misogyny in the workplace and in my personal life. I feel very passionately about women’s rights. When Donald Trump won the election, I was devastated. I felt like every man who had ever disrespected me was being validated. I began hearing stories of women all over the country being harassed by emboldened Trump supporters, and my devastation turned to anger. I created this poster for my Intro to Design class, and I wanted to used my frustration and anger to make something positive. I wanted to create an image that was bold, empowering, and playful. I believe that women will grab back our rights, our bodies, and our country. The image itself is a paper cutout. I actually did 5 iterations before settling on this final image. The process was really satisfying, and creating this image was something of a catharsis for me.
How did you feel throughout the steps of submitting to the publication? What did you learn from the process?
The submission process was pretty straightforward. I submitted my poster to the Resist! Publication after getting a head’s up from someone else in the program. When I learned that my image would be used for the back cover, I was totally shocked! It was really cool to communicate with the editors of the publication to ensure that the image was exactly to their specifications.
Now that you’ve got your first publication under your belt, how do you feel about the results and do you have any future graphic design projects you’re excited about?
Aside from the fact that I wish I never had to create this image in the first place, I am really happy with the results. I have three main career goals as an artist: to delight people, to make them feel something or think about something in a new or deeper way, and to use art as a means to help the planet and all of its decent creatures (human or otherwise). My career hasn’t even officially begun yet, and I’m already on the path to achieving these goals. I’ve found my dream career, and I’m so excited to continue to use graphic design to make the world more beautiful.
See more of what Gillian is up to on her website: gillianlevine.com
or on Instagram: @professional.baby