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Creativity and Culture: For Art Director Carolyn Blakley, Louisiana Brought Her Both

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This month we’re shining a light on Carolyn Blakley. She joined MESH in early 2016 as Art Director which has her overseeing a variety of design projects including branding campaigns and visual storytelling.

So how did you end up in graphic design?

It was an unconventional way that I got here, but that’s part of the fun! For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be an artist, but when I started college I wasn’t aware that graphic design existed as a field. It was the late 90s during the dot-com boom so I chose to major in Information Technology, which I enjoyed. But then I got a taste of Photoshop and PageMaker and knew immediately this was what I wanted to do for a living. Soon after, I landed a student design job, and graphic design essentially became my side gig. By the time I figured out the career I wanted was graphic design, I was in my last year of school, so I finished the IT degree, and then chased my passion post-graduation in graphic design.

What were you doing before you arrived at MESH?

My husband’s job brought us to Louisiana, and I could never have imagined how wonderful the creative culture is here. The music, the cuisine…everywhere you turn there’s inspiration on top of some fascinating history. Not long after relocating, I came across the first published issue of 225 magazine, and I was intrigued. I loved their focus on the local culture and was impressed with the design. I distinctly remember thinking that designing this magazine would be a really cool job. Well, fast forward another year, and I got that job!

I started out designing news stories, features, and covers for both 225 and Baton Rouge Business Report. Eventually, I was leading redesign projects for both publications, and art directing cover shoots. Between the culture with 225 and designing maps and infographics relating to the capital region for Business Report, working for LBI [the publishing company] was such a fantastic way to become more acclimated to Louisiana. We photographed and interviewed so many interesting people! I loved working there and stayed for close to a decade, but I wanted to branch out beyond publishing. That’s when MESH and I found each other.

What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on at MESH?

The very first brand I created was Open Health Care Clinic—we were tasked with building the whole brand from scratch, from naming to the look and feel of its story. Some of my other favorites include Mississippi Aquarium, LSU Nicholson Gateway, environmental graphics for Capitol City Produce, the “Choose Dunham” campaign for Dunham School, and rebranding projects for Don’s Seafood, Baton Rouge Beach Half Marathon, and Mid City Merchants.

How do you channel creativity?

Living in Louisiana makes creative inspiration easy to come by. The food is amazing, the festivals and parades are like none other, and nowhere else will you find people with so much flair for celebration. I also find inspiration every day with my team. One of the awesome things about MESH is that I get to work with some of the most talented designers in Baton Rouge! Collaborating with a team of creatives who trust each other is when the truly incredible happens.