Designer Spotlight: Katy Fischer


Where do you work, and what is your title?
TOKY, Creative Director

How long have you been in the design industry?
Since ’98…18 years!

How did you end up in your field?
I was lucky. I always knew I wanted to be in graphic design, even when I didn’t really know what it was. Also, I had amazing teachers who really shaped me.

Tell us about one of your most memorable projects.
Working with Gautam Yadama, Mark Katzman, Stephen Schenkenberg and Eric Thoelke on the book Fires, Fuel, & the Fate of 3 Billion. It was a truly collaborative experience and everyone was working towards the same end-goal – a book that has impact. I learned a ton from each one of these folks.

What is your favorite place in St. Louis to find inspiration?
The book store or the library. I also am a total dork about walking different neighborhoods. There are so many amazing things happening around town, it’s hard not to be inspired.

Who is your design hero?
So many. These days, I’m really loving the work of
Design Firms: Saffron, Office, Paprika
Illustrators: Margaret Kilgallen, Hatsuki Miyahara, Carson Ellis
Oh, and Mike Spakowski, of course.

Do you have favorite music for fueling your creativity?
Sure… depends on the project and mood. GSD music can be a favorite, a playlist made by former co-worker – ShamePop – or on the flip side, Sigur Ros. For the most part, I’m a Americana/Folk/Roots fan. These days Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear is on heavy rotation.

Tell us about a design-related book, essay, film, video or other form of media that’s important to you.
David Foster Wallace’s This is Water. Humanity and awareness.

How important is it to know what other designers are doing in your industry?
Incredibly! You can choose to live in a bubble, and think everything you do is precious, or you can be a part of a community and grow.

What advice do you have for an up-and-coming designer?

  • Work hard. Be the first one in, be the last one out.
  • Iterate, iterate, iterate.
  • Most of the work you will do will get tossed (at least 70 percent of the ideas you present will never see the light of day). Find joy in the process.  Find a mentor and listen. Ask questions but spend most of your time listening.
  • It will be a tough path, but embrace it and practice what you’re passionate about. If it’s too easy, it won’t last.
  • If you absolutely hate what you’re doing (like dreading every waking moment of it) then get out and change, don’t be complacent.
  • If you’re miserable, your work will reflect it.
  • No one wants to sit next to an egotistical twit.

Design in St. Louis is evolving.

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