Presenting a designer to take our “Center Stage.” This month’s featured member is Emma McGoldrick. With her passion for illustration, hand lettering, branding, and storytelling, Emma has distinguished herself as a creative to watch.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are, your background, and your work.

I am a designer, creative director, and illustrator brewing brands and visual storytelling from my little corner of NYC. I am the founder of ESM Creative Studio, a creative agency for purpose-led brands, known for a signature whimsical aesthetic blending illustration, strong design, and hand-lettering. I am a farmers market fan girl who loves a good book, a strong cup of coffee, and exploring NYC with my dog.

What was it that made you want to pursue a career in graphic design? What about this field were you most drawn to? What was your journey like?

I am a self-taught designer. I studied biology, chemistry, & marketing in college — I couldn’t make up my mind. I have always been a creative person & have harbored a love for drawing my whole life. The moment I started teaching myself Illustrator, I found the perfect mix of creativity and logic, and I was hooked. While completing my marketing degree, I began freelancing. After graduation, I continued freelancing until I was able to build out my full studio. Six years later, here we are.

What designers or creative minds influenced you growing up? Has this changed over the recent years? What types of style do you most admire?

Growing up I always admired the creations of Lisa Frank, Jeffrey Fulvimari (Illustrator of English Roses), & paper dolls. My tastes changed and evolved once I got into design in college, and I started learning about the greats. I have always been inspired by Milton Glaser, Simon Wilder, Hoodzpah, Hellcats, & Mélanie Johnsson. I love people who work outside the box, use tons of color, and play with typography.

How would you describe your design aesthetic? What makes your style stand out from other designers/design firms?

Colorful. Whimsical. Bold. My style is very illustration-forward, full of contrast, and a touch of feminine. The biggest compliment is when a client reaches out and wants to work with me “for my style”. When they say this, it tends to be because of the color, unique type, and my illustrations.

What hobbies or activities are you involved in outside of the design world?

I am a big fan of hobbies & doing creative things just to do them. Each year I pick a couple of new things to try. The ones that have stuck include ceramics, knitting, tennis, chess, & reading. I am a very avid reader; I average 6-10 books a month. I find reading to be a great creative release & inspires me to think outside the box.

Where do you draw inspiration from? Are there hobbies that inspire your work?

I am currently inspired by tinned fish packaging, maximalist interiors, and finding color in NYC architecture. Right now, I am focused on getting back into physical mediums. I’ve been taking pottery, drawing, and textile classes. Most of my work is done digitally, so it can be great to work with my hands to get out of a slump.

What is your design process like? What would surprise us in how you get your work done?

My relationship with the client drives my process. I start every project with an intake call and work hand-in-hand with my customers, working off their feedback. The entire experience is collaborative. I am a big fan of systems, so I have a very organized template forward process, but I always make sure it fits what my client needs. I am a notion addict and teach classes on how to create creative systems as a creative. Most people would be surprised to find out I always have a co-worker with me, a lot of times in my lap: my 9-pound dachshund, Sadie!

Why did you decide to join LogoLounge?

In the past, I used Logo Lounge as a source of inspiration. I realized I should be posting my work to the site and allow others to do the same. As a female creative, I often suffer from imposter syndrome, and that impeded my timeline for joining. Overcoming this is a major goal of mine this year and joining LogoLounge was one of the steps!

What work or works are you most proud of and why? Did such designs come easier than others?

One of my all-time favorite projects is the book cover I created for the novel, Unstable by Carrie King. It always gives me a thrill to see my work in print and featured in social media posts. My podcast, Sorted, is a passion project. I love teaching tips and tricks of the trade to other creatives!

What or who would be a dream project or client for you?

I always enjoy creating book cover illustrations and would love to collaborate with more authors in the future. When it comes to branding, I love anything to do with coffee shops. But all in all, working with women are my favorite clients! i love helping fellow creative women make their dreams come true

Can you tell us about a current project you are working on and how it is going?

Right now, I am working with an Oregon-based florist. She approached me for branding; she was drawn to my whimsical, colorful style. The branding is playful and draws on the florist’s personality!

What are some of your personal and/or professional goals for the future?

My main goals are to collaborate with more authors & publishing houses on book covers, grow Golden Hour Guild, my community for creatives, and be able to hold my own on the tennis court.

What about design do you like the most and the least?

In terms of styles, I love pulling inspiration from the past. I’m drawn to vintage stores and antique art. I try to avoid hyper-trendy design. If my branding remains timeless, my clients can use it for years to come, and I feel like that is the best service I can provide. I love working with clients on an ongoing basis to create a full ecosystem… everything from logo to packaging to creative direction for the product shoot, I want to be part of it all.

What lessons, either about life or your profession, do you wish you had known years ago? What advice would you give to other designers, who are just beginning their career?

I live by the motto, “Create before you consume.” Every morning, before scrolling on my phone, I complete a daily design practice and spend 15 minutes on creating. Sometimes these projects are for a purpose and sometimes they are horrible sketches that don’t see the light of day. That’s the best part of this practice, I can create just for me. New designers should remember that it takes time to find your style. Every project is a step closer to discovering your personal flair. And fellow women trying to make it out there, find fellow female entrepreneurs who in a room full of opportunities will shout your name.

To see more of Emma’s work, check out her LogoLounge here.

You can also see her work by visiting her website here.

Stay tuned next month, as we feature another LogoLounge member.