Courtney Johnson is a pro long boarder (but it took practice!), ex-softball player, design fanatic who likes to get in over her head just for the challenge. In high school she was the President of the Special Ed program, and now a senior at NNU she is the president of the Art and Design club. She sipped her coffee, straight and black while she chatted openly with me about her past, present and future.
Courtney grew up in cold Heburn, Idaho (near Burley).
“…So, I was always interested in art. I always loved art. I took all art classes from junior high all the way through my senior year. They offered graphic design courses. There’s CSI (College of Southern Idaho), that’s right by my school. They let us do courses through them a few times a week for 3 hours a day. And NNU has a great program. But I didn’t feel like I could do much with art. I felt like design could give me a steady income, that I could use for the rest of my life.”
Looking back, she says that CSI definitely prepared her for college. That’s where she learned how to use the pen tool, so she had a step ahead of the rest of class sophomore year at NNU. “I could just go ahead and do it instantly. I took two years of classes in high school.”
Now Courtney is a senior at NNU. For her senior show on April 3rd, she was excited to show some illustrations for clinical counselling. While interning at Peppershock, Courtney switched her marketing minor to a psychology minor and made the big decision to apply for a master’s at NNU.
“I’m going to grad school to get my masters in clinical counselling after I graduate… That’s the plan. I know, big change. We have to do a theory book, like a chart, for each of the major theorists in psychology. I’m going to take it a step further and design and put the theory charts in a book form, do illustrations for it, make some info graphics, make some posters… so I’m really excited to get that going. I think it would be a good piece to represent yet another department and another part of me and my design.” She’d love to work at a college or clinic while continuing design on the side.
Above: A crew lunch at Messenger Pizza, a social media graphic designed by Courtney, and Courtney painting the windows at Peppershock
“I love people a lot. I’ve always felt like I helped them a lot. “
As a testament to her desire to challenge herself, while interning, Courtney also worked full-time at Fred Meyer and took 8 credits in 8 weeks. Talk about a full load!
How did Peppershock affect your plans?
“I didn’t know what to expect. I learned speed, efficiency, and scheduling. It made me want to push myself. And they really care. Angie and Sierra were really helpful in helping me understand people and how design and people relate.”
Courtney still loves marketing, and makes the connection between psychology and marketing by pointing out that in both, “You really have to understand people.”
She loves to draw, gets pumped when she gets to do it for a project, and chastises herself for not sitting down and doing it for herself! She especially loves figure study class where she gets to sit and draw for two hours a week. As far as design is concerned, her instructors Mike and Paul always emphasized “Draw!” And she backs them and others up in the importance of quick sketches. In her opinion, improving drawing makes you faster at getting a design onto the computer and into its final form.
At Peppershock she…
- Learned faster ways of doing things (especially within computer programs)
- Was challenged to use Photoshop, a program she was less comfortable in than Illustrator
- Became more comfortable finishing things in a timely manner
- Practiced organization and needing to answer to somebody
- Worked on a complete campaign for a local organization
- Aided in the design of a website
- Created social media graphics
- Dipped her toes in window painting for the 4th of July
- Got to draw!
At this point she’s feeling pretty confident about her master’s application, with three strong letters of recommendation under her belt. Now she just has to wait!