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Originally from Minneapolis, Michelle Ducayet, is creative director at Soloflight. She graduated from Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1991 and began her career in annual report design. Since then, Michelle has had the opportunity to work on all coasts and for a variety of creative agencies in both print and interactive media. Her work has been recognized by Communication Arts, HOW, Print and AIGA.

09.20.11

A Hammer And Shovel or A Mouse And Keyboard

If you have a degree in what field is it? A BFA in graphic design from Minneapolis College of Art & Design.

What's the best site you've seen lately? What’s so great about it? Daytum. Simplicity is complex and there is a real art to finding balance in design, which not all designers can effectively master. Daytum pairs a minimalist layout with a sophisticated approach to stylized graphics, which ultimately creates a beautiful and unpretentious design. The negative space and typography shine, and the overall concept really speaks to the geek side of me who embraces statistics and how they can be utilized just as effectively as photography.

If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? In my current job I work for a healthcare publication where on a regular basis I have the opportunity to shoot portraits of scientists at medical research facilities. I think if I were to change my career, I would want to be a scientist because of the creativity and the ability for me to use both the left and right sides of my brain. I enjoy all the creativity and process that it takes to figure out how things work.

Design or technology? Which is more important? Why? That’s a loaded question; it’s like asking, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Design and technology are equally important. It’s our responsibility as designers and developers to not get sidetracked by design or technology and to, instead, make them work together cohesively. When that happens, the results are a true harmony.

From where do your best ideas originate? From everything around me... creativity in the environment and in other professions.

How do you overcome a creative block? I usually invite a bunch of friends over, go to my kitchen, grab a bunch of ingredients and start cooking. Once good food, fun conversation and lots of spirits have been had, any creative block, thankfully, seems to disappear.

In one word, describe how you feel when beginning a new project? Not sure I can use one word, but it’s similar to the feeling that I had when I was a kid at Christmas or on my birthday. The excitement of sneaking down the stairs to see all the wrapped presents and that uncontrollable urge to run and tear open each one...

What well-known site is most desperately in need of a redesign? Any non-profit site that is more concerned with how much information is accessible from the home page  than the engagement they are having with their viewers through effective storytelling.

Do you have creative outlets other than Web design? When I get home, I make it a point not to hop on my computer even if it’s screaming at me; instead I look to my garden and my house for creative inspiration. I always have creative projects on my to-do list whether it’s building a water feature or tiling a fireplace. I am equally content and comfortable holding a hammer and shovel as I am using a mouse and keyboard.

What music are you listening to right now? Spotify, the wonders of satellite radio, relieves all my diverse tastes and appeases everyone in the office.

What product/gadget can you not live without? My iPhone and especially Google Maps—I’m always getting lost.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve bought online? There are a few, but probably models of a brain, kidney and spine.

What's your favorite quote? “Make it work.” —Tim Gunn, Project Runway

Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Everything happens for a reason but, always, love what you do and believe in your talents.

What's one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? That the status or name recognition of where you work, or want to work, should not be as important as the clients and the quality of your work over the span of your career.