Communication Design (Graphic Design)
Graphic designer Katherine Major has worked on projects ranging from design for non-profits in Haiti to the art on album covers for “killer” rock bands to greeting cards featuring iconic children’s characters.
That’s what she enjoys most about her career—the freedom to explore new possibilities.
Major works as one of two graphic designers in the properties department at American Greetings and runs a design studio in the Cleveland area. At American Greetings, she is responsible for design related to the company’s owned brands, which include Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, Holly Hobby and Packages from Planet X, a show that American Greetings recently launched on Disney XD. Major collaborates with illustrators to create patches and patterns based around various themes for each of the brands. These are used on a variety of products ranging from t-shirts to lunch boxes sold on shelves around the world.
“It is a great department because we have the feeling of a small studio but with the benefits of a larger company,” Major said. “We have lots of creative freedom and are encouraged to explore and try new things. I never would have thought that would be possible working for a large company, but I found it here. Plus, it feels awesome to have an influence over these internationally known brands!”
Outside of her position at American Greetings, Major runs Fizz, a design studio she started with fellow designer Jasen Melnick. The couple was recently featured on the Beauty of Letterpress for their Two Sisters Photography letterpress cards, and their company’s business cards (which are actually drink coasters) have been featured in HOW magazine. They also recently completed a project for former Project Runway star Valerie Mayan, who owns a shop in Cleveland and was looking for a fresh approach to her logo and store signage.
“We started Fizz as a way for us to be creatively satisfied from what we were missing outside of our day jobs,” explained Major. “As much as I love my job at American Greetings, I also enjoy working directly with clients and creating branding and letterpress projects.
“Besides our traditional design work, Jasen and I have started selling Ohio-themed merch around Cleveland and at craft sales. We saw it as a way to market our business in a creative way that would make us extra money.”
The designers’ stemless wine glasses were featured in the CCS alumni gallery last spring and won an AIGA design award for 3D design. Some of their other merchandise was also recently featured as a case study in the book Design Currency by Jenn and Ken Visocky O'Grady.
Prior to her position at American Greetings, Major gained experience at design firms NORTH and Go Media, both in Ohio. Some of her past projects include the design of Nirvana t-shirts, a Pepsi Web site and the album cover for The Killers as well as collaboration with the King of Qatar on a bid proposal for the 2016 Olympics.
Major’s approach to graphic design grew out of experiences she learned both inside and outside the classrooms at CCS. She appreciated the honesty she received from her professors and the competition brought on by her peers.
“CCS taught me to always think beyond the obvious. The projects weren't simply designing logos or posters; the teachers really wanted us to use our heads to think of meaning behind design."
"I've noticed that several design schools just don't do that, which makes me so thankful I chose CCS. This has helped me outshine a lot of other designers.
“When I was in school teachers and students didn't hold back on what they thought of your work. As a professional, it's much harder to get an honest critique from someone. There was one teacher in particular that really pushed me beyond what I thought was possible. At the time I really didn't appreciate it, but looking back now I am thankful. I felt that even my best work wasn't good enough which was frustrating. But I know that he saw I could do better, which just made me want to try harder— ultimately, helping me see something new.
“The one thing I value even beyond my education in the classroom was the education I got outside of it. I spent hours together with my classmates, sketching and presenting ideas. We weren't afraid to rip each other's work apart and really push each other. Our 3 a.m. critiques would always reveal something magical! Thanks Adam and Ken!
“I can't imagine my career being any happier or better than it is right now. I am so thrilled with the quality of work I do and with the clients I have! I know that the reason I am here today is because of the work ethic I learned at CCS. My goal is to continue creating beautiful work and making CCS proud!”
To view more of Major’s work, visit KatieMajorDesign.com (personal site) or HelloFizz.com (business site) or online store https://www.etsy.com/shop/HelloFizz.