We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle LeClerc and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michelle, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
Technical proficiency is as important as creativity. Being fluent in the right tools is essential to executing your idea. That’s why agencies should ensure that all designers continue to adapt their expertise to changing technologies in order to maintain excellence on every level.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I attended California State University, Northridge for my graphic design degree. At the time, I lived in Oxnard, CA and the drive was about an hour/hour and a half each way, depending on traffic. I actually did not have a computer that supported design programs until late in my junior year of college. I depended heavily on the university labs for the electronic materials I needed to complete my studies. I worked in retail to boot! Finding time to study was difficult, but I managed to remain on the dean’s list and even won second place in the department’s graphic design competition. I didn’t overcome these challenges alone. I’m eternally grateful to the university for providing access to the computer lab, and my father for splurging on the sweet eMac. My senior year, I traded my retail job for an internship at Capitol Records, which gave me the experience I needed to land my first full-time job. Let’s jump to today, and the projects I’m most proud of. In 2017, I created the data visualization for Elizabeth Warren’s book, This Fight is Our Fight, a #1 New York Times bestseller. In 2019, On behalf of Campaign Zero, I led the design & data visualization for the first police scorecard in the US, which was featured in outlets including the LA Times, The Atlantic, and The San Francisco Chronicle. And when I’m not designing, I occupy myself as an Adjunct Professor at Temple’s Tyler School of Art. Now I’m back in the classroom, and here’s what I want folks to know: I didn’t get here alone. Every step of the way, someone reached down and helped pull me up. Keep an eye out, look for those who need help and give them a hand. The road doesn’t have to be hard. We don’t want to just break the glass ceiling. We want to sweep up the glass so those who follow don’t cut their toes along the way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Catalina Island – Hop on the Catalina Express for a 1-hour boat ride where you’ll arrive on the island. Hit the beach, rent bikes, enjoy seaside dining, and even mini-golf. Cold Spring Tavern – Take a trip out to Cold Spring Tavern, a stagecoach stop dating back to 1886, nestled in the Santa Barbara Mountains. Make a day of it and stop in at the nearby Santa Barbara Zoo or El Capitan Beach. Bart’s Books – A local favorite here in Ojai and “The world’s greatest outdoor bookstore” The Wildlife Learning Center – Do you want to touch a sloth? Because this is where you can touch a sloth. Live to Eat – My favorite local spot in Ojai! A charming little restaurant with a diverse local fusion menu that focuses on pan asian dishes.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to give a shoutout to my amazing team at Beutler Ink. I’ve worked on and off with Beutler Ink in a freelance capacity for the better part of a decade before recently joining full-time as their Creative Director. The thing that stood out to me about them and ultimately led me to go full-time is their commitment to a warm, welcoming, and creative culture. Design is a skill that can be underappreciated and ultimately stifled in the wrong place, but this team gives me the freedom and resources to put out work I’m truly proud of.
Credit: The great design and strategy team at Beutler Ink, our trusted freelancers, and our inspiring clients.