A dream job isn’t such a dream for Keeli McCarthy, Senior Designer at Fantagraphics, and now, Artist-in-Residence at Missouri State. As a new faculty member in the Art + Design Department, she is bringing industry knowledge from the publishing house of the world’s greatest cartoonists, as well as innovative teaching to students.
Before coming to Springfield, McCarthy received her BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Arizona. Upon graduation, she began her career in a San Francisco studio where she freelanced and worked in other in-house opportunities. She then moved to New Zealand where she did graphic design for a mental health and wellbeing nonprofit.
As Senior Designer at Fantagraphics Books she designed and art directed covers and interiors of books represented on the New York Times best-sellers lists, developed designs for Disney Masters, and much more. She was also a Book Designer for Klutz Press, a division of Scholastic Books.
Coming from a family of teachers, McCarthy says she even though she enjoyed working in the industry, she always knew teaching would be in her future. “For the last few years, I’d been taking on as many teaching opportunities as I could in adult education, running special workshops, continuing education, etc.,” says McCarthy.
The position at Missouri State called for someone with industry experience who desired to shift their talents to an academic setting. “That description fit me perfectly,” exclaims McCarthy. She’s been excited to share her experiences, wins, failures, and everything in between with students at MSU ever since receiving the news she got the position.
She not only wants to provide a fruitful academic setting for her students, but also desires to prepare them for their lives and careers after college. “It’s wonderful to see the excitement of students who are brand-new to the field of design,” says McCarthy, “and help them explore the skills that will get them ready for a successful start in their careers.”
McCarthy feels that she “can still relate to the anxiety of the creative process and the joy and sense of accomplishment that comes from solving a visual problem;” in part, because she remembers how it feels to be a student and the pressures that come along with it. A personal goal she abides by is to continuously and curiously keep learning, whether within or beyond her field. “Stay curious, and never get to the point where you feel you have nothing new to learn about something,” says McCarthy.