We had the good fortune of connecting with Dee Cutrona and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dee, why did you pursue a creative career?
When I graduated from high school, creative careers were very uncommon, so for practical reasons and with an interest in behavior, I headed toward the more traditional route to study psychology. Turns out, I just wasn’t as interested when I committed to it as a major. Lucky for me, my dad pulled me aside and said, “Hey, Dee, you know you don’t have to go to USC. Why don’t we take a tour up at Art Center.” Art class came easy to me as a kid, so pursuing a career in something I already had a knack for seemed like a wiser path. We took the tour and that was it. I traded my backpack for a portfolio. It simply felt like the right fit for me. A curvy path—to be sure—but I’m happy where I’ve landed and continue to grow. Regarding my interest in psychology? It finds its way into my design, life and work life all the time. Everything adds up.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I love what I do and I’m a problem solver, so it pains me if I haven’t delivered exactly what the client is looking for. I’m a working designer and it’s my job to roll up my sleeves and get it right. No hurt feelings or egos here. Fortunately, I tend to attract the kind of work that I love to do, which is an amazing place to start. With that said, it’s really exciting to think about all the prints and products I can create and sell that reflect my own personal style and brand. I have a background in branding, packaging and product design–and I love all things home–so I get really excited about creating artwork and developing products and accessories for the home.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh my goodness, this is a funny question for me because I am terrible about exploring my own city. I’ve lived in Los Angeles all of my life and know less about it than most everyone I know, but some of my favorite things to do here: TO EAT: Mario’s (Glendale), Viet Cafe (Atwater), Philippes (Chinatown), Nicole’s (South Pasadena), Tam O’ Shanter (Los Feliz), Schreiner’s (Glendale) TO DO: Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood Forever, The Eames House, Descanso Gardens, A drive up to Mount Waterman or Arrowhead, (not a big shopper, but if I do) Unique LA, any antique shop or thrift store, the Rose Bowl Flea Market ). TO STAY: Probably NoMad or Palihouse? Somewhere with cool quirky details, but doesn’t seem like it’s trying too hard. I plan to make a master L.A. explore list someday to visit my own town, but I just haven’t. I know it will include eating Downtown, Korea Town, Little Ethiopia, Langers, a concert at The Disney Concert Hall, and most of the above.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
So many people to give shoutouts to, starting with my dad, who fully supported my desire to switch paths and study design and my mom who taught me to, “draw what I see.” So many instructors that pushed me to the brink, in a good way, and to everyone I’ve worked with since then. Mable who I started a boutique greeting card line with (Dee & Lala)–you learn so much starting a business. A gentleman named Andre, of Clinker Press, who taught me the more traditional side of letterpress printing, and of course I have to give a huge shoutout to Beth Helmstetter and her team. We’ve been working together for quite a while now and I truly enjoy their spirit and completely respect their discipline and business acumen (and we get to work on some amazing projects).
Portrait photography: Adam Cutrona