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My name is Shawn Hall, and I am a graphic designer. I’ve always wanted to be an artist, ever since my first grade art teacher taught me how to shade three dimensional objects. I was hooked. Through grade school I took every art course I possibly could, joined the art club, and went every year to the Upper Chesapeake Summer Center for the Arts, a weeklong summer camp devoted to the arts.
When it came time to choosing a college I had a bit of a problem. Every art college I looked at wanted me to immediately dive into a major, however I still didn’t know which branch of art I wanted to go into. Finally I found the Delaware College of Art and Design. DCAD has a fantastic first semester class called Foundation Seminar, that has students take two weeks of each major.
While I loved each section it was Graphic Design where I knew I truly belonged. Our project for that short class was to create a 6” x 6” composition that has the first few paragraphs from Kafka’s Metamorphosis set with our own illustration of an anthropomorphized insect. Rather than creating it on the computer, however, we were given the text on a sheet of paper and had to cut the text apart to adjust any letter spacing. The only digital tool we were allowed to use was the photocopier, to create a fresh print. I had so much fun with that first project, and it has absolutely given me respect for how easily the same things are achieved on a computer screen.
When I graduated from DCAD with my AFA in Graphic Design it took a few months to find a career in art. I felt that I was ready to jump straight into work, I just had to get my foot in the door. I had picked up a job at Walmart between years of DCAD, so for a while I just worked there as I hunted. Finally, that December, I got an email from my teacher from DCAD. The position for DCAD’s in-house designer was open and he wanted me to apply. I got the job and started working that February, just days before my 21st birthday.
Now, five years later, I am still DCAD’s designer. I have created two iterations of the course catalog, three versions of the College’s view book, more than a dozen Continuing Education course catalogs, and countless postcards and posters. I even got the chance to do the redesign of the diplomas that students receive, as well as create a brand new crest that was stamped onto gold foil stickers to apply to each one.
In my spare time my hobby is Rocky Horror. I joined the cast in Newark, DE in 2009, just after I graduated from DCAD, and it has grown to be one of the best parts of my life. I normally play Eddie, who was played by Meat Loaf in the film, and there is no greater thrill than running onstage, running around for three and a half minutes with the audience’s full attention, before ultimately being chased offstage and “killed”. It is a high energy part and oft-times I do feel completely worn out afterwards, but I absolutely love it.
In 2010 I was made one of the three managers of the cast, called Formal Dress Optional. Still a cast manager to this day, I’ve helped FDO get through some amazing times and some dramatic rough times. Fortunately there is much more of the former than the latter. I’ve also been able to put my skills as a graphic designer to use for the show, both in creating advertisements and posters for the show, and in digitally recreating some of the props so that they could be printed. I’ve actually made these props available on my website for free to the Rocky Horror community, and there are now casts all over the country using my designs in their own shows.
My favourite project that I’ve designed is one of these props. It is the control panel on the wall of Dr. Frank N. Furter’s laboratory, and is one of the more difficult props for casts to build and easily use because at full size it stands a staggering 75” x 80”. It is my favourite project because of how much work I had to put into it. This had been my third attempt to create this digitally, the first two had been scrapped long before as I had been unsatisfied with them. So much research went in to getting photos from every possible angle that I am now positive that my design is finally 100% accurate. I created it as a vector file in Illustrator so that it is now delightfully simple for someone to print it at a different size depending on how their stage allows and have no issue with distortion or pixellation at all. With this design casts now only need to build a simple frame to go across the top and along both sides. I just recently found out that the Rhode Island cast, who performs at many different venues depending on the week, has just had their seventh vinyl print made, so that they can keep one at each theatre.
I am looking for a full time job in graphic design. My current job is thirty hours per week with no benefits, so obviously I need something more financially stable. More importantly, I want a position where I can continue to be creative and inspired with each project I take on.