March 21, 2018

A panoramic look: a designer [and her K-9 comrade]

Julia Cooper is a UTA grad who got her feet wet in the design world working in Dallas. She’s decided to plant firmer roots and made the jump to Fort Worth, Texas, to build on her strengths. Armed with a Canon 5d Mark II named Gatwick, her ultimate goal is to marry graphic design with photography.

For work and play, she’s driven by capturing the root of what matters from varying angles, with her K-9 comrade, Toki, by her side. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. Julia’s philosophy behind her creative drive is what keeps the team on their toes for new and fresh ideas.

Schaefer: What was your first week like at Schaefer?
It was so great! I was initially in Deep Ellum, Dallas, when I got the green light that I was hired at Schaefer. Within three weeks, I secured a new apartment in Fort Worth, took a vacation to Colorado with my dad and Toki, packed up my apartment in three days, moved, unpacked and started work at Schaefer. It was a lot of hard work getting here, and so worth it. My first week was exhilarating, exciting and absolutely a breath of fresh air.

Schaefer: So, tell us more about that.
I have a lot more creative autonomy here, and have already learned so much from the other creatives. I didn’t have a boss at my first job out of college, so I had no one to look up to for creative guidance. Here at Schaefer, I have multiple people on the team I can turn to.

Additionally, I feel very blessed and happy to be in an environment where work culture is of tremendous importance.

Oh! I now have windows! The last place I worked was windowless and it felt like a cave or closet.

Schaefer: People around the office always admire your sense of style. Where did that derive from?
Ever since high school, I always loved funky combinations – like a spaghetti strap tank tops over polos. Of course, I was 16 when I thought that combo was cute.
I guess when I went to college, I fell out of taking care of my appearance and how I dressed, so when I went back for my second degree, I started feeling more inspired and maturing into the woman I am today. I learned the value of dressing well. It’s a form of good manners, in a sense. That’s sort of become my motto now, “dressing well is a form of good manners.” Even though that was originally said by Tom Ford. (laughs).

Schaefer: What drew you into creative work?
I’ve always had a creative disposition and my parents nurtured that throughout my childhood. I’ve been drawing since I could pick up a pencil. As an adult, I love watching the transformation of a project from start to beginning, and figuring how to solve problems in a visual manner.

Schaefer: Can you tell me about a project you worked on that you were really proud of?
It was a branding project for Taiheiyo Kensha, a Japanese Akita kennel in Los Angeles. It was a passion project I did my last semester in college, which turned out to be a huge milestone for me, because it was the first assignment where things started to “click” as a graphic designer.  I designed the logo, and created all other assets, including a puppy packet and an owner’s folder.

Schaefer: What would be the “dream project” that you would love to work on or create yourself?
That’s tough for me to say. Just as if you were gonna ask the question, “Where do you want to be in 5 years,” I don’t want to pigeonhole myself.

In general, though, I love working on logo designs and branding. I’ve already had the opportunity to work on those, so I feel pretty good.

Schaefer: Since you’ve been at Schaefer, what’s been your favorite project you’ve worked on yet?
I’ve really enjoyed working on the Schaefer Christmas Card and the Near Southside’s “Crazy” invitation for their fundraiser.

To be honest though, there is something I have loved about every project. With each new assignment, there has been something new and profound to learn. It is like I get a new tool for my toolbox with each new project. That is really exciting.

Schaefer: So you’re new to Fort Worth, how have you adjusted?
I’m definitely still acclimating. Having just moved from Deep Ellum, Fort Worth is so different from Dallas. It’s obviously smaller, and feels more like a town than a city. Toki, however, really loves Fort Worth. His disposition is more happy since we have moved.

I’ve enjoyed exploring the different communities within Fort Worth. Some areas are more up-and-coming and going through their own renaissance. I witnessed that when I lived in Deep Ellum for five years. It was similar to the Near Southside district, where it’s just continued to draw more people and blossom with new businesses and retail.

Schaefer: If you could get an all-expense paid trip anywhere, where would you go?
I would go to Japan as a bit of a pilgrimage to my dog, Toki, a Japanese Akita! As a bucket-list item, I absolutely have to see the Hachiko statue at the Shibuya train station. Gotta make Toki proud!