After graduation, Alison Horner proudly accepted a graphic design position with The Hartford Group, one of the country’s leading financial institutions. Working with a talented team of professionals, she contributed to print, presentations, multimedia and Web design for a number of services, including 401(k), SPIA, small business plans, IndyK, annuity products and mutual funds.
But three years at the company helped the weekend pilot discover that the same freedom she experienced while flying could set her design-work soaring. She is now a designer at AgileCat, a marketing agency in Philadelphia that prides itself on passion and authenticity.
“While working at The Hartford Group opened my eyes to the structure of an insurance-based company and clientele, I never felt my creative and imaginative side was realized,” said Horner. “Occasionally, between compacted columns of disclosure and haggling with ad review over legal restrictions, I produced something worth its weight in gold. This was a great feeling of accomplishment because it was such a colossal encumbrance to design in a field restricted to forms and formulas. It was like the Harrison Bergeron world of design.
“I think it’s invaluable for any designer to experience something confining. There are people who do not even realize they are imprisoned until they are let free of confinements. The day you are able to let your thoughts multiply without any restrictions is like when a dam bursts open. What an exhilarating feeling! AgileCat has afforded me such an opportunity.”
As a designer who considers herself more a dreamer and revisionist, Horner works on print, multimedia and Web projects for clients ranging from small local businesses to BMW, along with a continuous stream of self-promotional work, including the agency’s locally recognized “brand therapy” and AgileCat events.
“My most esteemed feat so far was the self-promotional work for our 8 party.” Horner explained, “Astronomically, the planets were aligning when the notion for a theme around the Number 8 surfaced—the 8th year of AgileCat at our new space in center city (1818 Market), on the 18th at 8.
“With this as a springboard, I was immersed with multiple possible visual interpretations that revolved around the ‘8’ phenomena. I decided to develop as many of them as possible and integrate them into the invitations and collateral material: some bold, some subtle, but all carrying with them the mystery of the phenomena surrounding the number 8. The party was a huge success, and next year I look forward to sinking my teeth into our 9 lives party (on the 9th at 9…).”
Horner’s inspiration to create work that dares to be different is derived from the talents of the artists and thinkers of those around her as well as the rush she gets from flying.
“Taking off on weekends and flying the skies sets aglow my work (and my life) like no other,” she said. “It inspires me beyond words. Until eventually that heavenly influence finds its ‘cumulous’ conclusion in a presentation, painting or poem—or all three—in a project I have been assigned.”
Originally, Horner planned to major in fine art (oil painting) and spent a summer in Venice (Italy) studying watercolor. But after transferring from Northwestern Community College (Traverse City), she changed her major to graphic design, the art of visualizing ideas and problem solving. She returned to Europe and took part in internships under Studio LUST and NLXL in the Netherlands.
“My time abroad was so inspiring and meaningful,” said Horner. “I appreciated the European cultural influences to a better degree and how all these interplay to develop a diverse flavor that’s expressed through all art forms.
“Transferring to CCS was one of the best choices I have ever made. It helped me discover my own innate talents and drives, and placed me in a career I love. How fortunate I am to be able to combine my energy, pleasure and particular gifts with my ‘job.’ Isn’t that a small word compared to passion?”
- Graduation Year: 2002
- Major: Graphic Design
- Employer: AgileCat (Philadelphia)
- Title: Designer
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