Okay first off, yay for bringing Creative Louisville back. Hoping to line up a few more of these in December to showcase some of Louisville’s badass creative community. And we’re kicking it back off with a seriously good one.
You know when you meet someone and they’re just cool. Like you know they are way cooler than you in that I’m-not-even-trying way. That’s what it was like when I first met Megan. Megan is just an effortlessly cool girl.
But then sometimes those cool girls are too cool for school, you know. And that’s definitely not Megan. She’s warm, friendly and welcoming which then makes you realize how cool she really is. Beyond that though, she’s incredibly talented.
Megan is one of the designers at Mperfect, the graphic design and branding agency behind some of Louisville’s most iconic new brands: Rye, Please & Thank You, Galaxie, Mr. Lee’s and much, much more. In addition to her brand building work, Megan is a beautiful illustrator. So yeah, she’s just really cool.
If I haven’t convinced you yet, reading through her answers will have you nodding along in no time. That or craving a margarita from Galaxie and a piece of pizza from Butchertown Pizza Hall.
* Name: Megan Mraz
* Company: Mperfect
* Title: Graphic Designer & Illustrator
* How did you get started in your field? I like to think it all started in fourth grade, with an assignment to create the packaging and commercial for a fake soda (my group went ALL IN). Or when my fifth grade teacher refused to approve my assignment book because it was covered in mermaid drawings.
More formally, I began testing things out in college with an internship at a Lexington agency, and through various design needs via extracurricular event planning roles. Post-college, I started out in a different field entirely… but did freelance work for my entrepreneurial-spirited friends… and somehow wiggled my way into an internal communications design job with Zappos/Amazon… and then into my role at Mperfect. I’ve been pretty lucky, really.
* What inspires you? Vintage packaging & patterns, outrageous color palettes (a la Dorothy Draper & David Hicks), and outdoor escapes that make me feel small.
* What three words describe your work best: Considered, warm, lively.
* What three words describe you best: Driven, charismatic, & pretty-amazing-on-the-dance-floor.
* One thing about you that might surprise people: I once took a mud bath in a cave in China. Photo evidence exists in a file somewhere….
* Why Louisville? So many people end up leaving Louisville, what helped keep you in the 502?:
I moved to Louisville seven years ago when I married my husband, despite not getting to spend much time here previously. After growing up in a community nestled in Daniel Boone National forest, the massive trees in the Highlands instantly felt like home. I love our friendly city, with it’s extensive park system, supportive creative community, old architecture, and coffee/food scene. Louisville is big enough to have interesting things going on, but small enough to experience familiarity.
* Favorite Louisville Neighborhood: Dang, this is hard to pick. My favorite things are in a lot of different neighborhoods! I will say I love working in Crescent Hill/Clifton. It’s the perfect neighborhood for coffee, lunch strolls, and drinks.
* Favorite Dinner Spot: RYE, especially on rainy autumn evenings.
* Favorite Spot for a Drink: The margaritas at Galaxie get me.
* Favorite Pizza Spot: Butchertown Pizza Hall. Best toppings on a single slice.
* You’ve got to try or go to: The Parklands of Floyd’s Fork. Escape the city for amazing views, trails, and bike rides.
* Favorite Festival: Can I refer to the entire Derby season as a festival? After a long winter, Derby is when the city stirs from hibernation to come back to life.
I like that energy.
* If someone is visiting from out of town and only has time to go to three places, where do you send them?
1. Bike along the waterfront, from the Big Four Bridge to Shawnee Park and back
2. Then because you deserve it, grab a chocolate chip cookie (or 2 or 10) from Please & Thank You
3. Next, choose your own adventure:
* visual art: KMAC Museum (thought-provoking exhibitions and it’s free!)
* music: catch some bands at Zanzabar
* vintage shopping: browse Crazy Daisy for some fun eye candy
* How long have you been with Mperfect?
A little over 2 years
* What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m not sure if I have a typical day! I try to just focus on one day’s needs at a time, but also be flexible if something unexpected comes up. I flip between actual design & illustration time, coordinating with clients & print vendors, and possibly delivering collateral materials.
* What have been some of your favorite projects or clients to work on?
We are fortunate to work with genuinely wonderful people who do really cool things. Because of that, it’s hard to pick favorites! But I love when we get a chance to see a client’s business progress from a literal dirt floor & studs to a living & breathing space. The collaborative process of designing an experience – of imagining how people will interact with the furniture, decor, lighting, and printed materials – is fascinating to me. I also love getting a sneak peek at the exhibitions at KMAC Museum before they open to the public. I mean, with William J. O’Brien and “Victory Over the Sun” – they have been killing it.
* MPERFECT does such innovative branding work. What do you think is key to developing a memorable brand? Your team gets involved with brands beyond just the graphic design side of things, why do you think its so important for companies to look beyond just the logo and branding?
We always remind our clients of two things:
1) If it doesn’t work in black & white, it doesn’t work. Start there, and let the color come later.
2) A brand is more than a logo. A brand is more than collateral material. The way your company interacts with customers, the quality of your product, the photography & copywriting you use… those all work hand-in-hand to build a strong brand.
We focus on creating design that is timeless, memorable, and authentic – a solid launch point for the brand as a whole. Starting with a logo and extending into stationery, materials, signage, website – whatever is needed. In the process, we engage our clients in discussions about how to keep building on their brand in other areas, and try to anticipate what their other needs may be. And along the way, it’s likely Jason will effortlessly come up with a tagline or two, because he’s amazing like that (besides being an insanely talented designer).
* When meeting with a new client, what kinds of questions do you ask to get a feel for the direction they want to go? If someone is looking to update their branding, what tips would you give them when dealing with a designer?
Think about brands you love and admire. What is it about those brands that speak to you? What do you want people to remember most after experiencing/interacting with your business? If you have a physical space, how do you want it to feel, how do you want it to sound?
It can also be helpful to show us images of logos/materials from other companies (not necessarily in your field)… both things you love & don’t love.
It is also very important that – before contacting a designer – you have a clear idea of what makes your company stand apart. To be successful, we need to have a firm understanding of your vision for your company. Like Michael says, every brand starts with a conversation.
* What would be your ideal or dream client?
We love working with clients who are both excited & clear about their vision, who are willing to give us some design freedom and take an unexpected approach. Personally, I’m all about doing some custom wallpaper, painted elements, or patterned packaging. Mast Brothers Chocolate, do you hear me?
* What’s next for you and MPERFECT?
We want to continue contributing to the fabric of this city, having a hand in making Louisville an attractive place to be. Creating another publication, of some sort, is always a topic of conversation around the office. We’d like to make more products… such as the always dependable Mperfect calendar that’s about to hit the streets.
* Anything else you want to share…
I truly believe Mperfect is doing some of the coolest work in the city, and I think you can tell when we’ve had a hand in something. We excel in distilling things down to the most crucial elements. We love to keep things analog, authentic, and not too serious. We consider your design from all angles – how your company will relate to others on the street, how you will stand out, how your brand will live in homes and conversations.
From logos to menus, invitations to soundtracks, shirts to screen-printing… we do it all, or at least know someone who can. Have a look at bymperfect.com, and give us a shout if you need anything.
On a personal note, I’m a nerd at heart, and like to try different things on the side. I’ve been really into surface pattern design the past few years, and have been experimenting with silk scarves & pillows lately. I’m thankful to have a husband who tolerates/encourages/challenges me.