Good Stuff

Designers Unite: The Ties Between Interior & Graphic Design


Design is defined by Merriam-Webster as: to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan. It’s a pretty blah definition, but design includes so many different types of careers and interests: graphic, interior, fashion, video game, architectural, product, web- and probably hundreds more. The main purpose of a designer’s job? To make stuff look good, but keep function.

“With home ownership comes a natural desire to make it your own.”

Ashley Paynter is a graphic designer based in Charlottetown and, she says, has spent her fair share of time watching HGTV.

“I had always longed for a place of my own with plush furnishings and a rich color palate. I remember when I was a child actually trying to glue a square piece of velvet-feeling material to a chair. Afterwards I very proudly kept the chair in my bedroom for quite some time,” she said. “Yeah, I know… I probably should have been outside playing.”

Ashley gained more experience with interior design when she bought a home, redid some furniture for it, and then sold the house.

And bought another one.

She decided to exhaust her savings- and herself- by completely renovating it.

“I redid cupboards, painted walls, learned to lay flooring, built shelving, help build a deck, power washed siding, planted gardens, and leveled gravel for a new driveway,” Ashley said. “The only thing I love more than design is the dirty work of making it reality.”

After taking Interactive Multimedia at Holland College, she sold her home and moved into an apartment in Charlottetown. She said the program definitely has had an effect on her design aesthetic. “I have a much better understanding of color, spacing, and balance now.”

Ashley says interior design and graphic design follow a lot of the same rules.

“It’s all about letting elements breath, how your eye flows from one thing to the next, and how you apply color. While I still have plenty to learn about both fields of design, I think there are plenty of similarities between the two.”

But a future career in interior design might still be in the stars for Ms. Paynter. “I have a real interest in real estate and paired with my love of hands on work, I think it would be really fulfilling to flip some houses in the future.”

“It’s great,” Ashley says. “Creativity is great!”

Melanie Orr is an interior designer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

“A graphic designer does for marketing material what an interior design does for a space,” she said. “The two professions use overlapping skills and talents from a different perspective and with different tools to draw from, to create function and form.”

Melanie said working with creative clients makes her job easier. “I have had flooring specialists, graphic designers, a kitchen specialist and painters as clients. In all cases there was mutual respect which made for an easy situation. Much less explaining and convincing is required when working with someone who gets it right away.”

She added, “I would miss the opportunities I have to educate and encourage the creative side of my non-creative clients, but it is refreshing to work with someone in a creative field.”

Melanie is a big believer in getting an education. “Taking a recognized training program will give you applicable skills as well as add credibility to your name.”

For anyone just starting out in any design field, she recommends deciding early on what your business will look like several years out. “It is much more difficult to work on the business once you are busy working in the business. Be prepared to work really hard and overcome challenges on a daily basis, and feel very lucky to love what you do.

Visit Melanie’s website or Facebook page.

Good Stuff


Jillianne Hamilton is the author of Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire, its two action/comedy sequels, and The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII. She is also a graphic designer, a history enthusiast, and a dog mom. Learn more.

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