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-forwarding to now, Shirley’s current path combines her experience in science with motion graphics and parenting: She’s 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.