The Ambassador Series: Leslie Becker - Milwaukee
Hi Leslie! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm a graphic designer living in Peoria Illinois, though I've moved through a few cities. I made the jump to freelance about a year ago after 7 years in the fashion industry. Now I dabble in a little of everything, which is what makes entrepreneurship so great. My career description is constantly changing and I'm always learning new things, and meeting new people along the way.
What led you to move from California to Peoria? What has that transition been like for you?
We moved for my husband's job as a professor of journalism. I took it as a chance to jump into a different side of graphic design and start my own small studio. I grew up in the Midwest, so I knew what I was getting into culture-wise, but I was pleasantly surprised by the art and design scene in unassuming Peoria. Finding friends and interesting people doing interesting things was the easiest part about moving! The hardest part was coming to terms with the uncertainty of freelance and learning to not second guess my skills and decisions. You have to go all in!
How did your interest in graphic design begin?
It's always felt natural to me, to "organize" things visually, for lack of a better term. When I was a kid, I didn't consider myself a great fine artist or illustrator, but I loved all types of creatives projects. Graphic Design, with it's emphasis on grids and structured typography called to me and I never really felt the need to look back.
You also mentioned that you are a fashion designer, what does that work look like?
I wanted to major in fashion when I was coming out of high school, but I thought it would be like The Devil Wears Prada! I somehow found myself in that field anyway, and discovered that people weren't intimidating at all. I find that graphic and fashion design run hand-in-hand and that their aesthetic trends often correlate. I think working in both fields has made me a stronger designer.
Generally, the differences lie in knowing more about construction, fabrics, and most importantly, production! A big part of the fashion world is networking, knowing the good factories and knowing how to go about getting something produced. It's much more business and data-oriented than graphic design is. At the same time, it's also a little more fun and frivolous, with the big emphasis on trend.
What creative women do you find inspiring?
Aesthetically, I adore the work of Mary Frances Foster. She captures so beautifully the feel of nostalgia, with just of touch of contemporary femininity, and adds that Midwest practicality. I find her stuff to be refreshing and original.
What makes you passionate about the work you do?
I love talking with other small business owners and seeing how I can help them, it's such a great feeling when you can put other people's thoughts into graphics. However, I don't ever try to pretend that graphic design can save the world. I once heard a designer compare himself to a cake decorator, and I felt like that was a pretty accurate term.
I think it's pretty hard to be helpful to anyone if you don't enjoy what you do, and there are enough people out there who hate their jobs. So, I've placed a big emphasis on making my careers something I enjoy by finding the right employers, clients, and environments.
Why did you want to become a Glossary ambassador?
You know when you went to college and they told you that networking was everything? It's true. But it doesn't have to be all handshakes and business cards! I love platforms like The Glossary where networking feels natural, where it feels like making friends. I've found it incredibly fulfilling, both professionally and personally, to get outside my comfort zones and connect with people I would never normally run across in daily life.
What are some of your favorite places in Peoria?
Ribbon Records - Some of the best vintage in the most unassuming little corner shop
Zion Coffee Co
Peoria Hofbrau - for old school German Food
3030 Coffee Co
Cyd's Gourmet Restaurant and Kitchen.
Find Leslie at: