Introducing PLY’s new graphic designer

Elizabeth Fitzpatrick is the new graphic designer/layout artist for PLY, and we asked her a few questions so we could all get to know her a little better. Her first issue is the Summer 2020 issue on Supported Spindles.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, what fiber craft(s) you do, and how you got started in the fiber world.

My introduction to the fiber world is through my partner of 22 years, Maxine. She learned how to crochet when she was young, but about 15 years ago we were on vacation and walked into a yarn store. Thus began her true fiber journey. I just tag along. She tried to teach me how to knit, which is when I discovered I’m really terrible at counting. So I don’t do any spinning, knitting, or fiber-ing. A few years ago we started our company, knittingbuddha studio. Maxine does the handspun, knitting, and teaching, I do the design. My one foray into fiber was doing the felted sign of a knitting Buddha that hangs in our show booth.

Tell us about your journey in graphic design. What made you get started with it and what is your past experience?

When I was young and living in the NY area, every Sunday one summer, the newspaper featured a Peter Max painting as a full spread. I loved his work. It was fun and colorful, but it also bridged this gap between fine art and commercial art, and that spoke to me. At the same time, John Lennon and Yoko Ono launched a billboard campaign titled “War Is Over.” In our small town of 1,000 people, a “War Is Over” billboard was posted right before the river bridge. It was a small billboard, but I remember staring at it and thinking it was different than any billboard I had ever seen before. Simple black text on a white background. It was a message, it was art, and it was performance. And it was on a billboard! I wanted to do that.

I started my design career in the early 80s, back when being a graphic designer was a hands-on craft involving mechanical layouts, t-squares, drawing boards, proportion wheels, and amberlith overlays. I’ve worked as a designer laying out newspaper ads, designing logos, and creating graphics for K-12 English learning programs and as the artistic director for a non-profit arts organization. Plus, I have 20 years of experience as an art director for several trade magazines, and now PLY!

What was it like when you found out you were going to be the new graphic designer for PLY? How has the experience been so far?

I was a bit blown away to be chosen as the PLY designer. When I applied, I wasn’t originally picked as a finalist. But those who weren’t chosen were given the opportunity to go ahead and submit a mock up. I decided to do it because, at the very least, I could use it as a portfolio piece. I received some great feedback from Jacey, she had me do a couple of other pieces, and then she offered me the job. It was awesome. I celebrated with wine and cake.

The thing about PLY is it’s very much a showcase magazine with big, beautiful pictures and wonderful illustrations. My previous magazine work involved pipelines and construction. There wasn’t much room for interesting design work, so it’s great to work on a magazine with an artistically receptive audience. Like spinning, the joy of designing is in the process. It’s always nice to have the finished product, but it’s the process that makes it worthwhile, and that’s how I felt working on my first issue of PLY.

What do you do with your free time? What else would you like to share about yourself?

I am also a fine artist. I’ve sold some paintings over the years and was active in the Art Car scene for a little while. I’ve painted five cars and a VW bus. A few years ago I received a ukulele as a gift and have worked my way to the ceiling of beginner and the floor of intermediate. I now have a repertoire and play for our four dogs. They don’t seem to ever tire of hearing “Dock of the Bay.” I’ve got a bunch of DIY projects that I continually procrastinate on. I consider our house a big sculpture I will probably never finish. It’s all in the process.

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