Caroline McDonald, one of our rockstar pre-press artists, spends her days at Frontier making sure customers’ designs are pitch-perfect before going to print—and occasionally rocking out to Taylor Swift (or old episodes of “The Office”) while she does it. Caroline joined the Frontier team a little over a year ago after graduating from Clemson University with her degree in graphic communications. “I fell in love with the culture and the people here,” she says. At her interview, she also fell in love with the fish in our office: “I remember thinking it’d be so awesome to work in a place that had a fish tank,” she recalls. Spoiler alert: it is. Read on to meet Caroline and learn how she helps Frontier customers cross the finish line with their designs:
Tell us a little about your background and how you came to Frontier.
I graduated from Clemson with a degree in graphic communications last May, and I’ve been at Frontier for about a year now. At Clemson the program there is more focused on printing, so it was super helpful to have that background to know how things would look when printed. That’s something a lot of graphic designers need to know, because there are a lot of things that look differently on the screen than in real life. I started here last May. A close friend and classmate of mine interned here and introduced me to Frontier, and I fell in love with the culture and the people here. I’ve really enjoyed my time since then.
What drew you to design?
Growing up, I didn’t gravitate toward any particular area in school, but in high school I took a lot of art classes, and I just loved it so much. Being creative and making things always brought me a lot of joy, so I knew I wanted to do something along those lines in my career.
What was your first impression of Frontier when you came to the office for the first time?
Everyone is super friendly! They’re all so welcoming. And right when you walk in, there’s this huge fish tank. I remember thinking that it’d be so awesome to work in a place that had a fish tank.
What’s the vibe like around the office?
I really love how Frontier is laid back, it’s not intimidating like a big corporate office where everyone’s in their own little cubicle and no one talks to each other. It’s a lot more open and relaxed. That’s something I really love about it.
Tell us about your job.
I am a pre-press artist, so my job is to go through all the artwork to make sure it’s okay to be printed. I check the size, the resolution, the colors, all to make sure it looks exactly how the customer wants it to look once it’s printed. That involves sending proofs, creating artwork, and emailing back and forth with customers.
What’s one of the most memorable or rewarding projects you’ve worked on here?
I think the biggest one that me and two of my other coworkers did was the sample pack redesign project. We have a sample pack that shows all the different materials we can print on, and a lot of the designs on it were outdated, so we wanted to update all of them to look more fresh. We had to go through a lot of reviewing stages where we would print proofs to make sure everything looked correct, have meetings and talk about what the customer needs to see for each material, and meet with the Customer Experience Team to make sure it made sense for them to be able to explain it to people. I did a metallic plastic design I really enjoyed. It’s fun to get to play with how the materials will look with a certain design, and really figure out how to make it appeal to all of the customers.
If you’re stuck on a project, what do you do to get the creative juices flowing?
I like to get a fresh set of eyes on it. A lot of times I’ll ask all of my coworkers to come and look at it, and see if anything comes to mind for them. When you’re staring at something for so long, a lot of times you don’t even really know what you’re looking at anymore, so it’s important to take a break. And I like to get coffee—caffeine helps in so many ways.
What do you like to listen to while you’re working?
I listen to “The Office” in my headphones all the time! I don’t even watch the screen because I’m so familiar with it. I also love Taylor Swift, and I know she’s polarizing, people either love or hate her, but I love her. When I need a boost throughout the day, I just put on Reputation, and that’s that. For something more mellow, Sleeping At Last and Bon Iver are two of my favorites for chill background music while I work.
Besides listening to Dwight Schrute while you work, what do you love most about your job?
I love that there is that variety between pre-press and also being able to work on custom artwork projects. I feel like if it were all one or the other, I would probably miss one of the sides of it. I do appreciate routine and knowing exactly what I need to do, but if there’s too much of that, I’ll think, “I wish I could just design something and do something more creative.” It’s a good balance between those two. And it’s super fun seeing a finished product and having the customer feel really happy about it.