Karen Thomas is our awesome Director of Design & Creative Services here at Points Group. An eagle’s eye for detail, Karen is our go-to gal for all things graphically beautiful. She has won numerous awards for her work and looks for inspiration in the everyday. We sat down with Karen to get a more in-depth look into the vibrant world of marketing design and creation.
Q. How did you get into design?
The truth? I’ve always been into art. I’ve always been into design. I was into a lot of fine arts when I was younger, and my dad told me to look into something art-related that would actually make money. So, because I was also into computers— I felt I might want to be a computer programmer at one point—I basically thought: What could I do where I could create art and also bring home money?
That’s how I landed on graphic design – by marrying two things I was really into. And here I am. Ta-da!
Q. What is the coolest thing about your job?
I’ve been really lucky to have worked and be working with some great people. So, one of the things I would have to say is cool about my job is having the opportunity to work with the designers I’ve worked with. In the course of my career, they have all helped inspire me in some way.
Also, I like the idea of creating something and being able to hold and play with it; it’s the concept of turning an idea into a tangible object that I really love. Whether it’s something you see on a shelf in a store or just a material that comes back from the printer, the idea of being able to touch it is just really, really cool to me as a creative individual.
What I do is just fun. We laugh a lot, even when we’re in a deadline-crazed haze of delirium.
Q. How do you stay creative under pressure, you clever girl?
I think the biggest and hardest thing is stepping away. It’s hard to do, but when you can, it’s the best way to go about it. Sometimes I have the ability to put it down and look at it the next day. When I don’t, the best thing to do is simply put whatever you’re working on down and take a walk outside before coming back to it.
Getting other opinions on what you’re working on also helps, even if it’s not another person in creative; just a fresh set of eyes can really give a whole new look to it. Sometimes, even the time it takes just to find someone to look at it allows me to come back and see it in a new way. Otherwise, you can get tunnel vision very fast.
Finding inspiration is also key. I’m always looking in the mail or looking online to find a new idea on how to create something. Even now we keep a lot of old magazines and books around because, even if you’ve seen it 99 times, it would be that 100th time that sparks something in you for a project you’re currently working on.
Q. In your opinion, what is the most challenging part about designing for the healthcare industry?
Healthcare has a stereotype of being boring or sterile when it comes to design, so sometimes it’s hard not to fall into “the norm.” In fact, when I think back over the six years I’ve been here, we started out totally different than how we do things now (from a design standpoint). I’ve realized there’s so much more you can do, especially when I’m constantly seeing different trends in the design world.
But I think what it really comes down to is this: If you can show the client how much you enjoyed creating what you’ve make for them, show how excited you are about it, I feel that they respect it more and they’ll end up just as excited as you are about it. Also, so much more cutting-edge stuff has come out in healthcare with regards to design. Sometimes even taking something that’s not healthcare-related and putting it in can make it better, too.
For example, when we started embracing infographics and loved doing them… wow. It turned out doctors love infographics because they’re aesthetically appealing and it’s an easy way to get your message and brand across.
The stereotype is still out there, but if you can bring something bright and creative to it, I think you can really produce some incredible things.