You can take the girl out of graphic design, but you can’t take the graphic design out of the girl. This was the case for Karidy Walker, the Minted artist who knew as early as middle school that she wanted to pursue a career in design in some shape or form. She went to college to study design, until she dropped out during the second-half of her freshman year. Several years later, she returned to Western Washington University and finished her degree in 2008, but she didn’t actually consider herself a full-time graphic designer until she started entering and winning Minted Challenges in 2013. Her success on Minted has led to freelance design opportunities for various clients, and now Karidy is a full-time, self-employed graphic designer who works from home in Anacortes, a seaside town in Washington state.
In the last four years, Karidy, who recently turned 40, has become known for her light-hearted, fun, and often illustrative design aesthetic. “I definitely swing more toward the whimsical side of design, but I still like clean lines and modern typography,” she says.
Minted: How did you know that you wanted to be a graphic designer so early in life?
Karidy Walker: When I was in seventh grade, we had a career day at school where people came to share their jobs and life experiences. I always knew I wanted to do something art or design-related, but I never had a “term” to describe it. A graphic designer was there that day, and I knew immediately that’s what I wanted to be.
Are you originally from the Pacific Northwest?
I was born in Texas, and we moved to Washington when I was almost 6, but lived in west Texas (where my dad was born and raised) and Hawaii (where my mom was born and raised) before that. I definitely have heart strings to both Texas and Hawaii, and my upbringing between them is a big part of who I am today. I’d describe myself as a Northwest girl mixed with a bit of Southern charm and aloha spirit.
Karidy and her husband, Matt, in a tulip field in Mount Vernon, Washington. Her daughters, Kaileia and Aneka, are 4 and 3.
Why did you drop out of college but return later to complete your BA in graphic design?
I always knew I wanted to be a graphic designer and enrolled in college right after high school. I realized early on, however, that I wasn’t ready for the work involved to finish my degree. I returned to school in my late 20s with a renewed focus. The WWU design program was really competitive at the time, so earning my degree not only gave me the skills I needed, but also the confidence I needed to become the graphic designer I always wanted to be.
What did you do when you dropped out of college?
I became a server at a popular cafe, but I always had some kind of artist outlet. I use to rent a space at an antique mall where I would sell refurbished furniture, art, and collectibles, and then I started making and selling wedding cakes in my early 20s.
“Woodland Celebration” children’s birthday party invitation by Karidy Walker
About how many hours a week do you work now?
It really varies. Some weeks I work as little as 20 hours, while other weeks I’ll put in more than 40 when I’m trying to submit Minted designs, finish file requests, or complete jobs for other clients.
What’s a typical day in your life?
School’s out for summer, so every day is a little different now, but in the fall, both of my girls will be in preschool two to three days a week. On those days, I’ll wake up at about 7 am. My husband, who works for the local public utility district, leaves about 6:30 am, so it’s just us girls in the morning. We’ll have breakfast together and get ready for school, which starts at 9 am.
After I drop the girls off, I’ll either head back home to catch up on Minted designs and work for other clients (which typically includes custom logos, business branding/packaging, and commissioned stationery jobs), or swim laps for an hour at the local pool. I’ll pick up my youngest daughter at 11:30 am and either head to my parents’ house for lunch or head home. My oldest daughter gets out of school at 1:30 pm. I try to be present and not work when I’m with my girls, so we usually do art projects in the afternoon or go to the park or beach. If the weather’s not so great, I’ll put a movie in for the girls and get a little more design work done.
My husband usually gets home in the late afternoon or early evening. We like to have dinner as a family and have a tradition of doing “thumbs up, thumbs down” at the table. After dinner the girls will play outside if the weather’s nice, or we’ll do more art projects or watch TV. We usually get the girls in bed by 9 pm, which is also when I’ll continue to do more design work. I love my sleep so I try not to stay up too late, but when deadlines are near I usually do.
Where does your passion for baking come from?
I’m a self-taught baker, and I’ve been baking since I was little. In my early 20s I began making and selling wedding cakes from home. I thought about opening up a bakery for a short time, but decided I enjoy baking more as a hobby than I ever would if it were my career. Now that I have daughters, I love baking with them too.
How do you feel about the concept of balancing family life with work life?
It’s definitely a juggle. I’m the type of person who gets depressed or a little down if something in my life is out of whack. I really need a nice balance of things, whether it’s hanging out with my girls, having a date night with my husband, getting some alone time, or taking a little extra time to work on designs. If one cup in my life is getting low, then it’s time to prioritize and fill it up. My parents and my husband are both great when it comes to this. My parents watch the girls when we need a date night, and my husband watches the girls if I need a nap or extra time to get work done.
Karidy Walker’s “Kind & Brave Fox” mail-out flier commissioned by Minted
Do you think of yourself to be a competitive person?
Not at all! When I was younger I used to swim competitively. I loved swim practice during the week but dreaded the swim meets on the weekends. I used to beg my parents not to make me go. They always did, however, and I usually finished well. The Minted Design Challenges were like that for me at first. I loved designing for the challenges, but when it came time to submit my designs it was nerve-wracking and a little overwhelming. I’ve since learned to just have fun with it.
“Special Delivery Bouquet” baby shower invitation by Karidy Walker
What’s your top tip for design success?
Never throw out an idea. Just because something isn’t working for one challenge or project doesn’t mean it won’t work for another. Some of my best Minted designs have come from an idea I had for a different challenge. If something isn’t working or coming together, I’ll file it away so I can go back to it at a later date.
How has Minted impacted your life?
I get teary-eyed thinking about how to answer this question. Minted has impacted me in so many ways. It’s instilled confidence in me, challenged me, has made me a better designer, and has allowed me the freedom to stay home with my girls. I’m so grateful to Minted for every opportunity I’ve been given. The Minted community is amazing as well, and I feel blessed to know so many talented artists and designers. The most incredible thing about Minted is that through competition, there is immense comradery. The community as a whole is so supportive and uplifting!
Karidy’s favorite design that she created for Minted is “Into the Woods!” children’s birthday party invitation. “I’ve received a handful of lovely messages from people who have used it for their children’s birthdays,” she says. “Knowing that something I created was used for such an important day in the life of someone’s child is an amazing feeling.”
KARIDY WALKER’S INSPIRATION & FAVORITE THINGS
Who inspires me: Personally, my parents. They’ve been married for over 50 years, and they’re both such amazing people. Every day they inspire me to be a better wife, mother, and person. Design wise, my daughters and their imaginative little minds inspire me!
Favorite design tool: Illustrator on my trusty Mac
Favorite font: Right now I’m loving Brandon Grotesque
Color combination of choice: Aqua with anything
Favorite design resource: Instagram
Favorite place in the world: I have a few favorites, but Makaha Beach in Waianae, Hawaii, is near the top. I have so many special memories with my family there.
Song in my head: The Revivalists “Wish I Knew You”
Favorite Instagrammer: @studiomcgee
Favorite pick-me-up: A piece of dark chocolate or a white chocolate mocha
What scares me: Having regrets, so I work hard not to have them.
What thrills me: Roller coasters, whitewater rafting, and snowboarding
“Beach Cruiser” children’s custom art by Karidy Walker
About the Author: Amy Schroeder, Minted’s Community Content Manager, founded Venus, the magazine about women in the arts and DIY culture, and has written for Etsy, West Elm, Pitchfork, and NYLON. Connect on Instagram @thevenuslady.
Published July 13, 20171 COMMENT