Although Minted artist Shirley Lin Schneider was always drawn to the world of art and design, she took a bit of an exploratory detour to study one of her other interests—marine biology—as an undergraduate at UCLA. After graduating in 1999, she took a year off to apply for graduate school. During that year, she took evening classes in graphic design, and the rest is creative history. After getting her degree in design, one thing led to the next, and Shirley built a career designing things you’ve likely seen on TV.
From 2004–2010, Shirley worked in the entertainment industry as an art director and designer for various broadcast networks and design studios, creating style frames for networks ranging from Sundance to AMC. Fast-forward to now, and Shirley curated yet another path that combines her experience in science with motion graphics and parenting: a self-employed designer for Minted and beyond. Here, the Manhattan Beach, California, artist talks about how she made it happen.
Minted: Why did you originally major in marine biology?
Shirley Lin Schneider: I’ve always loved the biological sciences, especially marine biology, since I was young. It made sense for me to major in a scientific field, and I had amazing opportunities studying in Hawaii and Tahiti (where I met my husband), scuba diving, camping, research boat trips, etc. I believe these experiences have definitely shaped me as a designer. While I enjoyed studying biology and had planned to go to graduate school for marine biology, there was always a part of me drawn to the arts and design. Venturing out beyond the sciences and into the arts was daunting, because I had never been encouraged to pursue design.
After getting your undergrad degree in biology, where did you learn about graphic design?
I studied graphic design at Art Center College of Design. Prior to Art Center, my initial graphic design courses were through UCSB’s Extension Program. I worked as a production designer in the Education Abroad Program at University of California Santa Barbara, designing travel brochures for college students wanting to study abroad. I decided I wanted to pursue design formally and included an application to an art school. I ended up being accepted to Art Center and majored in graphic design with an emphasis on motion graphics design. I chose to focus on motion graphics because I had always loved sequential design—books, magazines, etc. The art of film titles really spoke to me because of the integration of various mediums—film, typography, illustration, animation, photography and sound—all into one piece.
You were drawn to design from an early age; how have your interests changed?
In high school and college, I was really into punk/ska music and the DIY scene. I loved album covers and self-published zines. The whole DIY mentality was very inspiring and motivating. Once I started taking evening design classes as a hobby, I saw the realm of what was possible in design. I’m sure I thought of how cool it would be to design album covers for a living. The funny thing is that my interests shifted over the course of being at art school, and I never pursued that avenue of work once I graduated.
“Wildflowers” save the date card by Shirley Lin Schneider
What was your first job out of art school?
My first job was a Jr. Designer at G4, a video game network. I also freelanced for VH1. Through various design studios in Los Angeles, I have worked on projects for Bravo, AMC, FX, TLC, NBC, E!, ABC, CMT, etc. I really enjoyed working on on-air projects like opening show titles and promos for TV networks. I also liked designing for network branding projects, commercials, and film titles/trailers. I made the difficult decision to take some time off after having my first born because the long hours were not conducive to family life.
Once you made the decision to change direction from biology to design, how did you feel?
I was scared but also really excited. I had heard about the Art Center’s reputation of being a rigorous art school and wasn’t sure what to expect. But the school itself—a modern, black building located in the hills—and the student work was so impressive and inspiring, everything from transportation design to illustration. It was definitely a challenging and an amazing experience.
Now that you’re a self-employed designer, what is a typical day in the life like?
A typical day starts with me getting the kids ready for school, packing lunches and dropping them off. Afterward, I’ll jump on the computer to check email/social media. Then I’ll go for a walk along this woodchip path by our house and head down toward the beach to enjoy the fresh air. We live in such a beautiful area that I try to find time to enjoy it as much as possible. I find that I use this time to think of ideas for current projects and sort out my to-do list. Afterwards, I try to work for a few hours depending on the day’s schedule. There are days that I volunteer in my children’s classrooms or I need to run errands.
The afternoons are all about the kids. I pick them up from school in the early afternoon. Once we get home, it’s homework time for my oldest child followed by pick up/drop off to and from sports and activities. We eat dinner as a family followed by getting the kids ready for bed.
I’ll work a few more hours once the kids are in bed. I find the evening hours to be less distracting and actually get more work done. I love being able to work from home and creating my own work schedule.
“They are at such great ages,” Shirley says of her kids, Jack (6) and Vivienne (4). “Both of them are so full of wonder, innocence, spunk, and enthusiasm. I love seeing the world through their eyes and how they approach art. They just dive in without any hesitation.”
How has your design style evolved, and where do you see it going?
I’d like to think that my style is constantly evolving. I have ways of working, but I like to try new things and not be locked into a particular style. Minted has been such a great platform for experimentation and designing outside of my comfort zone. I’ve definitely pushed myself to illustrate and paint more.
“Whale Series One” limited edition art print by Shirley Lin Schneider
I’m curious about your whale series for Minted. What inspired the series and how did you create it?
My whale series was inspired by my love of the ocean. It was one of the first art challenges I had ever submitted to Minted. I had been accustomed to designing for a client with parameters that being able to create art without any limitations was a bit intimidating. But I figured it was a chance to integrate art and science into a cohesive piece…something I’d never gotten a chance to do in the real world. I created the series by using watercolor textures and integrating them into illustrated silhouettes of whale species.
SHIRLEY LIN SCHNEIDER’S MINTED EXPERIENCE
You joined the Minted community in 2010. How did you discover Minted?
I joined in 2010 after I saw an ad for Minted in a magazine. My son was just 6 months old and I thought it would be a great way to get back into design while working from home. I had every intention of participating, but I didn’t end up submitting to a Challenge until 2014!
“Vintage Glam” foil-pressed save the date card by Shirley Lin Schneider
What do you enjoy about being part of the Minted community?
The Minted community is amazing! I love being a part of this community. Everyone is so supportive of each other and the feedback and critiques are invaluable, especially when working at home. It’s amazing to be able to reach out to a whole network of designers/artists and have them help refine your work.
Of her Minted design style, Shirley Lin Schneider says doesn’t see herself as having a particular style, although, she adds, “I find that my work tends to be a more minimalist and clean aesthetic. But I also really enjoy designing things that are more whimsical or organic in nature.”
What have you learned from being part of the Minted community?
I’ve learned that it’s OK to make mistakes. Mistakes are part of how I’ve grown as a designer and valuable in the learning process. I’ve also learned to design outside of my comfort zone and to take risks.
What’s your advice to up-and-coming artists and designers?
Be persistent and keep on being inspired.
Shirley and her family enjoyed Kauai in summer 2016. This photo was taken at Poipu Beach.
What inspires me: Finding beauty in the everyday
Who inspires me: My kids, Minted artists and designers
Favorite place in the world: Hawaii
Favorite movie: La La Land
Favorite music (type, artist, band, etc.): Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service
Number of stamps on my passport: 6, all before having kids
Favorite blog or website: Pinterest
Favorite design resources: Instagram
Favorite side project: Redesigning our home…someday. I have a Pinterest board filled with inspiration.
Favorite inspirational quote, philosophy, or mantra: “Be your own kind of beautiful.”
“Joy Snowflake” letterpress holiday card by Shirley Lin Schneider
About the Author: Amy Schroeder, Minted’s Community Content Manager, founded Venus, the magazine about women in the arts and DIY culture back in the day, and has written for Etsy, West Elm, and NYLON. Connect on Instagram @thevenuslady.
Published March 21, 2017No comments