Andrea Engebretson is the owner of Giraffic Media and recently redesigned The Arts Partnership website.
By Brandi Malarkey
Special to The Arts Partnership
Artist Andrea Engebretson sits behind the computer in her home office where the walls and furniture are bright and clean. Neatly organized stacks of paper are interspersed with multi-colored post-it notes while a photograph of a giraffe blowing bubbles looks on.
Her large monitor displays the recently redesigned website for The Arts Partnership, one of Engebretson’s latest design creations as part of her business, Giraffic Media. She’s been a member of The Arts Partnership since 2019, and while designers are not always considered artists, Engebretson definitely considers herself an artist first and gleans inspiration from many regional artists.
Engebretson puts her artistic talents to good use as a brand designer and business coach.
“When I work with a client and they are so excited about what they do, I just get inspired by their enthusiasm. Color, lines and images pop into my head while they are sharing. Then it’s the challenge of putting those things on the screen in a way that really reflects the story the client is telling, and engages the user with that story. It’s a type of collaborative art,” she said. “Websites should never be passive.”
While Engebretson helps established businesses refocus and realign what they do and create action plans for reflecting that, as a TAP partner herself she found The Arts Partnership website to be a unique challenge.
“It is so exciting for me to see it come together,” says Andrea, her smile reflecting her enthusiasm. “I hope people find it easier to use, easier to get involved, easier to find the information they are looking for, and easier to support local art.”
The new TAP website sports cleaner lines, brighter colors, and simplified menus that are easier to navigate. In addition to the Arts Hub, it is now easier to identify Donors and Partners, explore TAP partner artists (and sort them by the type of art they create), and submit community events to the calendar.
Here’s more from Andrea Engebretson.
When graphic artist and web designer Andrea Engebretson wants to do something more hands-on, she enjoys printing and papermaking. Contributed photo/Brandi Malarkey
Did you always know you wanted to go into design?
I had no idea. I thought I was going to be a musician. I love music, I played the flute, and I was really good at it. So it was a surprise when I looked deeper to realize that I didn’t actually want to know that much about music. That sounds funny when said out loud, but sometimes when you have an interest in something, and you start digging in to know more, you realize that you can love something without wanting to know all the details. That is how it was for me and music. I realized I don’t care what the chords are called, I just think they’re pretty and want to play them. So majoring in music didn’t really work out.
What led you into design?
I was a stay-at-home Mom for a long time, and I would do things on the computer. Like chore charts or ‘what does a clean room look like?’ posters. I was just using ClipArt, but I liked organizing things on the page and finding different fonts that suited what I was putting together. I was doing that in Microsoft Word and it’s really crazy looking back and realizing some of the things that I was able to do in Word–now I can’t imagine how!–and I always tinkered with HTML building websites in the 90s. When I started looking for a job I could do from home, because I was committed to staying home with my kids, I realized I had been interested in graphic design for a long time – even if I hadn’t identified it that way. So I went back to school for it, but once I got there I realized I love this. I really love this. I love the precision that is possible, and I love organizing information on a page in a way that makes it easy to ingest. I think that is why web design works for me; it can be precise.
What role does art play in your life?
I’ve always been pretty creative. I played a lot of pretend and make believe as a kid. Every day in the summer a friend and I would play dress up and make up stories. After that I played the cello and the flute and the piano. I really got into the flute when I was in high school.
It took me a long, long time to realize that I can pull myself out of some of my depressive slumps just because I need to create something with my hands. Even if it’s just drawing lines with a ruler on paper, it’s an outlet for my anxiety, depression, or happiness and joy. Now that I have figured that out, I will get antsy. My legs will bounce and my heart races with the need to do something creative. While I love my computer work, when I get in that state I have to immerse myself in art by doing something more hands-on.
What other art do you do?
I struggle to find the right angles, but I like photography. I love film editing, which was a complete surprise to me. Sometimes I will draw or do calligraphy. But when I want to be more hands on and do the messy stuff, I do printing and papermaking. I love to play with textures and include seeds, flowers, and other natural elements in the paper, and I’m working on a project that involves printing directly onto my homemade paper for added dimension. I’d also like to start making books and journals with my paper, so that’s another fun thing to learn and work toward.
What is the biggest misconception you face with your clients?
I mostly work with moms who have established businesses and are ready to level up but need help figuring out where to go from here. So I do an in-depth interview that’s almost like brand therapy. We dig deep into their business so I can figure out what they do better than anyone else and where they need some help, and then we come up with clear next steps to take. But a lot of people think they’re not ready to work with a designer like me. They think their business is too messy, and their thoughts are all over the place, so they try to fix it before they come to me – like cleaning your house before a professional organizer comes over. But, the whole reason people hire me is that they’re struggling. I need to see the whole mess so we can identify what they’re doing right and wrong and opportunities they might be missing. It’s about getting to know them, where they are, where they’ve been, and where they want to go, so I can make them a great brand and a great plan that helps them shine.
About the author
TAP partner and community content contributor Brandi Malarkey is a multimedia storyteller, artist, administrator, and occasional hot mess. She is a collector of dead bugs and good books and believes that ordinary miracles and small kindnesses have the power to change the world. Learn more about her and her business at www.itsallmalarkey.com.