Getting to Know St. Louis Creatives with Katy Fischer

Katy Fischer’s serves as the Creative Director at TOKY Branding + Design, where she specializes in corporate identity and branding, publications, special invitations, illustration, 3-D design, and brand-standards design. As a supporter of young art students in the area, Katy has served as a guest critic for Washington University in St. Louis, Maryville University, and AIGA-sponsored student portfolio events. She also guest-lectured for high school students for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In today’s Getting to Know St. Louis Creatives Katy gives us insight into being a creative leader in St. Louis.

How did you get into design?
In high school, Grateful Dead posters, album covers, and book design had me at hello. In college, printmaking and midcentury modern sealed the deal.

Was there a defining point in your career, and if so, how did it shape you as a designer?
In college, my professor Doug Byers shaped my approach to design thinking, and I’m deeply appreciative and honored to have been one of his students.

In my professional career, I’ve always been lucky to be surrounded by talented people willing to teach. In particular, I’ve had the honor of working with two very defining mentors.

Terry Bliss was my creative director at my first job right out of school. He pushed me to become an agile, versatile designer. He taught me to never forget to have wit and empathy, and to respect Van Morrison’s bellows.

Eric Thoelke has been a creative beacon since 2004. He has ingrained in me the true quest to always think bigger and make better. To be conceptual and to solve problems with purpose, logic, and beauty. I am a better designer, thinker, and person because of his influence, but to his dismay, I’ll probably never share his affection for sci-fi movies.

Outside of other design and illustration, what sorts of things inspire and influence your work?
Makers. Whether it’s printmakers, musicians, potters, chefs, woodworkers, writers, or builders. People who are masters of their craft and who are willing to collaborate inspire the hell out of me. And my friends. I know it’s sappy, but it’s true. I’m constantly amazed at the wealth of talent, humor, and compassion these people have.

What about being in a designer in St. Louis inspires you?
Opportunity. I think folks in St. Louis want to help, not hinder.

If, in some Freaky Friday-like situation, you could live the life of another designer, illustrator or creative, for a day, who would it be, and why?
Sister Corita Kent on a day she was teaching and printing, Maija Isola on a painting day, or Annie Atkins on a Wes Anderson project.

And finally, what tips would you give to anybody who is looking to get started in design?
So many. Buy me a beer and I’ll talk your ear off. But when it comes down to it, it takes a village. So, don’t be a self-aggrandizing ass.

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