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The Branding of Me

As a former Communications student specializing in film/video and graphic design, I know how important visual identity and branding is, not just for your company but for yourself. But, coming up with my own personal, visual identity has always seemed daunting to am I supposed to sum myself up in a matter of lines and colors, when I am constantly changing, and not even sure who exactly I am? For my entire life, I have been a student. But now, 3 days post-graduation...I'm can't claim that anymore. An entire part of my identity, something that has been essential to me since the moment I stepped into my pre-school classroom 19 years ago, is suddenly gone. The time to discover myself has officially begun, and to say that I'm scared might be an understatement.

So, when I decided the time had finally come to create an online portfolio website, to showcase my projects past and present, I was intimidated. Sure, I had the work samples. But creating this website is about more than just throwing together a few different examples on a page. It's about finding my style, and creating a cohesive, visual branding to represent both my work and myself. Even just coming up with the base pattern for the website background was daunting. Did I want stripes, or polka dots? Chevron or paisley? I knew I wanted something attention-grabbing and creative, but not overpowering. Sleek, but not minimalistic. Colorful, but not tacky. After several minutes of looking through images on Google to find inspiration, and choosing a color scheme that said, "Katie Otto," and then eventually just playing around in Illustrator, I was finally, I was able to come up with the geometric, abstract pattern you see throughout the site:

It may not exactly define me, but I think it reflects me. Slightly abstract, but not too jumbled. Lines going in all kinds of directions, like the crashing lines in my head about what's next, and who I am meant to be. The pops of color and life where these lines connect, flashes of passion that represent all the fun and beauty mingled within the chaos of the transition into my mid-twenties.

Surprisingly, coming up with this first pattern set the stage for me to tackle my next daunting task...creating my actual graphic design portfolio. Using this pattern, with slight color and orientation variations, I was able to find a cohesive brand to carry through the portfolio, the lines serving as connectors between my vastly different styles of work.

In all honesty, focusing on that pattern for the website was a procrastination technique. I was feeling overwhelmed by the task of creating an entire, online, visual portfolio. But once I was able to take that small, first step in design, I unlocked a whole well of inspiration and work ethic. Sometimes the creation process isn't exactly linear, sometimes it's a circle. Creativity feeds creativity, production feeds production. We are all familiar with writer's block, and designer's block is totally a real thing, too. But sometimes, you just have to take that first, little step, and the rest will follow.

Even though I'm still figuring out who I will be in this next stage of life, I know that my creative outlets will be a big part of it. I'm looking forward to developing my creative voice and visual identity, one crisscrossed, metaphorical pattern at a time.

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