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Graphic designer Marie Bourgeois discusses her synthesis of passions



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Marie Bourgeois stands in front of a potted plant Nov. 14 in Franklin Hall. Bourgeois is a graphic designer based in Atlanta. Anna Brown Buy Photos

At work, Marie Bourgeois designs mock medicine bottles, baby food containers, boarding passes, highway signage, catering vans, vinyl records and children’s books.

Marie Bourgeois is a graphic designer.

At 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Franklin Hall, she spoke about her experiences in graphic design for television and movies. Her visit was organized by the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design in collaboration with the Media School.

Her career began after graduating from Loyola University in New Orleans, working in advertising. She then studied printmaking, finally landing jobs in graphic design for film.

Bourgeois has worked on the sets of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” “Miracle Workers,” “Pitch Perfect 3” and “The Walking Dead.”

During her lecture, Bourgeois explained she designs sets fit for a close-up shot. That is, if a scene in a movie features a messy office desk, she handcrafts the strewn documents, letters and newspapers that compose the mess.

“I often consider myself a collage artist,” Bourgeois said.

When designing food products, for instance, she always includes nutritional information. Whether or not the information is picked up on screen is beside the point; Bourgeois said each object she designs has value in bringing a set to life for camera crew, the actors and the viewers.

She also frequently uses stock photos, collaging personal photos from actors with stock photos to fit the historical context of the scene. She researches the history of fonts for the same reason.

Bourgeois was transparent about the triumphs and challenges of working in graphic design.

Working under harsh deadlines, producing intensely detail-oriented art and working in collaboration with equally stressed-out showmakers can be taxing. However, Bourgeois has become accustomed to staying calm under stress.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done,” Bourgeois said. “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Sarah Edmands Martin, an assistant professor at the SOAAD and Bourgeois’ official host, commented on the significance of bringing Bourgeois, a woman in graphic design, to a college campus to talk to students. 

“You have to see yourself or a reflection of yourself in a space in order to feel like you could potentially be in that space,” Martin said. “This kind of talk that Marie gave is incredibly honest. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and she tells you how it is. There’s a lot to be learned from that.”

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