The Creative Unconscious: What's your name, age, and professional title? Where are you currently employed?
Meg O'Brien: My name is Meg O'Brien. I'm 26 and I am an Independent Freelance Designer, currently contracting with Microsoft as Art Director of Employment Branding.
TCU: What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?
MO: Printmaking! I own my own letterpress, it's a Showcard proofing press and it weighs over 600 pounds! I named it Carson Daily because it came from Timberland Regional Library (TRL). Brainstorming and creating projects on that is always refreshing. I always have ideas for large scale prints running through my brain.
Other times when I just can't get out of a funk, I pick up one of my hula hoops (I have a growing collection), put on some beats and just dance around my living room for 10 minutes. It always puts a smile on my face, no matter what mood I'm in. And, I suspect, the movement helps circulate blood to my brain, I swear it's better than any espresso you can find in Seattle!
TCU: Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?
MO: The problem for me is that I have too many creative personal projects— that I have a tough time following through and completing them. And getting those projects done has more to do with the weather and seasons than how my professional job is treating me.
I think it's important to have a job that challenges you, and that could be in other ways beyond just creatively. Maybe you have to learn to be a leader, mentor someone, learn a new software program, or deal with a sensitive client relationship. As long as I am learning and being challenged with new tasks and environments, I am happy. Creativity, to me, is a much larger concept than just making something visual— mathematicians have to be creative to solve a tough equation, city planners create different ways to flow traffic and transportation. It's the act of problem solving that really excites my creative mind.
TCU: What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?
MO: Definitely the morning! I like to get up, make some tea and review emails over breakfast, brainstorm, and then get into a project after lunch. Something about the evening that tells my brain to mellow out, which is inconvenient during the winter here in Seattle.
TCU: What are your creative goals for the future?
MO: Working with my community more closely, working with people and projects that I believe in and that need my help. I think there are huge opportunities for improving the design at the new marijuana dispensaries. I would really like to design a brand and packaging system for a grower here in Washington. Short term, I really want to tackle updating my online portfolio with the new Thickly Sliced graphics.
TCU: Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?
MO: Yes! I have been working for the past two years developing a creative network for and of women and it's just now starting to take form. It's called SHAPESHIFTER. The idea started when I first heard about Ada Lovelace. She wrote the first piece of computer code. And I was thinking, "Why do I not know about her?!". So I wanted to start something that would tell stories about women who have accomplished great things— to show the community and especially young women that things are possible and they aren't alone, that they have mentors they can look to.
The mission is to create a platform for women to talk about topics and issues specific to women in Seattle. I hope to host a poster show every year, with rotating themes, that would tell the story a female exemplar through the artistic lens of a designer in the form of a screen printed poster. This first year, 2016, will attempt to address the issues confronting women in STEM.
SHAPESHIFTER will hopefully be launching a site this winter/spring. I am really excited about it.
TCU: Anything else you want to add?
MO: Thank you so much for being interested in my work!
You can see more of Meg's thick work over at www.thicklysliced.com.