Graphic Designer Barbara Budish Wears Many Creative Hats

Graphic Designer Barbara Budish Wears Many Creative Hats

Barbara Budish has had a long and wonderful career as a designer, artist and photographer. We caught up with her to chat about decades devoted to her craft.

When did your arts career begin?

My passion for creative expression through art and photography has always been a part of me since childhood. I took a class in “commercial art” in high school and my teacher heavily influenced me to go into graphic design. In fact, I became reacquainted with her when she came to an exhibit I was in during the summer, and we hung out a couple of times. How cool is that—thanks to LinkedIn!

After graduating college, I was bound and determined to become a fashion illustrator. I did succeed at that by working for a small upscale department store in Waukesha doing a lot of fashion and hardlines illustration, along with ad layout for mostly newspaper advertising. From then on, my career in graphic design was launched.

You’ve worked as a successful graphic designer/illustrator. Who were some of your clients?

Let me preface this by saying graphic design is art. It has set a foundation for many artists in the past and present, before branching out into their art. Plus graphic design has become more respected today for its’ communication and aesthetic value. 

I was fortunate to have worked in a variety of workplaces, that helped build up my artistic and creative conceptual skills through the years. But I worked hard at it, and I’ve experienced a few layoffs or business plans changed, but I got back up on my feet and that’s why I worked in so many types of businesses!

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I’ve done ad illustrations for Kohl’s and Chapman’s when I was a designer there. I did a multitude of conceptual marker renderings, illustrations and design work when I worked as a senior designer for Western Publishing/Golden Books for 10 years. Most notable projects for clients were things like a Nabisco kid activity book, Disney kids’ activity covers, Kraft Dinosaur mini Pictionary game, Paas series of four face painting books, Dremel Tool 101 Uses book, and I designed and art directed the Wisconsin Electric Cookie Book in the early ‘90s.

I’ve worked as an art director for an agriculture magazine, I was a senior designer for a B2B marketing firm with clients like 3M, Rustoleum and Pitney Bowes and lastly, 16 years as a senior designer for a nonprofit which was such an expansive creative outlet for me in print design. I did a vast amount of invitations, poster design and annual reports and more. I was challenged with great photography opportunities shooting various portraits and event photography. These advances took me further down the path to do more exploratory “fine art photography” on a personal level.

Explain what a conceptual art photographer does.

I’ve worked in marketing for so long that the “art of the concept” is so strong in me. It’s reflected in my personal photography works that sometimes get experimental. In fact, a lot of what I do as an artist has a message or concept. Some will be obvious messages, some subliminal and sometimes it’s left up to the viewer to interpret! In one of solo exhibits that featured just my photography called “Eclectic Experiences” in 2019, I created three different “response sheets” with different photos for people to interpret. Those who participated had written their own perspective on how they viewed the message in the photo. It was entertaining to read their responses and we posted them along the corridor so others could read them as they walked by. It made it a fun interactive eclectic experience!

You are quite talented in all of these areas. Do you have a preference or favorite?

Thank you. I’m definitely eclectic. Doing art is euphoric.

I will always have a place in my heart for conceptual photography because I can mix in my graphic design skills. And lately I’ve been exploring mixed media and I want to do more painting and see where that goes.

To what do you owe your successes?

It has helped me to be self-motivated, to have the tenacity such as getting my foot in the door for my first desired and real job as a fashion illustrator. I even joined the Army Reserves and was an Illustrator specialist for three years. And to this day, I continue to keep networking, I visit many galleries and museums all over for inspiration and to see what’s trending. I submitted quite a few photos in the Shepherd Express that were published during the 2020 pandemic that represented my take on the subject. They are on my Instagram @barbb_design with many other images of my photography and my art. Check it out!

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