We love to see what our recent alumni are up to fresh from the program. Class of 2018 alum Laura Mauriello is currently branding restaurants across New York, including the one she and her partner built together!
What are you doing professionally?
I’m freelancing for Graphic Design and Illustration. Mostly related to restaurants, branding, and some web design work currently, which has been a new experience for me, so I’m learning a lot. As a freelancer, it’s nice to be able to pick the projects or have them pick me! I am always looking for new challenging projects. Freelancing is also giving me time to help my partner at his restaurant, Miss Ada, in Fort Greene. Working in the restaurant business is challenging and time consuming, but I get to design everything there so I always have a creative part of me going.
Tell us about your experience designing for restaurants.
I recently got to work on the branding for an Italian restaurant that opened on the Upper West Side, Leonti. The chef/owner had a strong vision that included La Dolce Vita and the chic Italian Alps of the 1970s, which allowed for some beautiful colors and expressive typography in designing the logo and menus. The space itself is gorgeous and the interior colors and floor work gave a lot of inspiration to the branding, as well. We also played a bit with Memphis design, and trying to make what could feel overdone more elegant, which was a challenge, but ultimately was successful.
How do you stay inspired?
I try to stay up to date with what’s happening in the community, whether it’s following other designers on Instagram or getting together with other creative friends. I’ve been really trying to get myself to go to events as much as possible, to meet new people, and I’ve been meaning to start figure drawing classes again. I do draw a lot which keeps my creativity flowing, because so many projects these days are all digital or web based. I try to keep the hand drawn touch as much as possible. As a freelancer, it’s nice to get to work on lots of different types of projects, so I don’t feel stuck in one style or project for too long.
Which designers do you admire most nowadays?
I’ve been a big fan of Kelli Anderson for awhile, it was amazing to have her come speak during my first year. She’s multi-talented, and extremely creative in everything she does, and super nice! I also love Lotta Niemenen’s work, she’s very versatile as well and her illustration vs. design work is so different, it’s amazing that it is done by the same person. Other designers/illustrators/artists I’m into: Mike Perry, Malika Favre, Tom Haugomat, to name a few but there are just so many…
Finally, we hoped Laura could share some fresh insight for new MFAD students now that she’s spent a year outside of the program.
What advice would you give incoming students?
Your experience will be completely what you make of it. Go to everything! The more you take advantage of what is offered to you, the more connected to the program you will feel, and you truly will get more out of the experience. Even if you think you know how to do something that’s being taught, try to have an open mind!
What is your favorite part of the MFA Design program?
The people that I met. Steve and Lita as mentors, the opportunity to meet some of my design idols. Friendships that I know will last forever. And being a part of a community that you can always reach out to at any time. I don’t think there’s many other programs like that.
What impact has SVA MFA Design had on your career?
I learned my worth as a designer/creator. Which can be a really hard lesson to learn, and will take time. But that helped me grow as a professional. I no longer sell my self short when handling the not-so-fun business side of things.
Our program has multidisciplinary approach. How has that helped you?
I’ve had so many experiences already where I’m asked to do something, like create a user experience map or a business plan, that I don’t think I would have learned in another design program. Having more skills and tools makes it infinitely easier to adapt to any design situation.
If you could choose a thesis topic today, what would you pick?
I’m happy with my topic that I chose, but maybe I would have made life easier and picked a more tangible product to work on, looking back on it. Probably not though!
To learn more about Laura and her work, visit her website and send her a note! She’s open to freelance as well as more permanent work. Stop by Miss Ada if you’re feeling like some delicious Mediterranean food and amazing cocktails.