Design star …
Tomlynn Biondo has always had a keen eye for design. From children’s books to wedding photography to websites to concert posters; she has taken her unique artistic view and added flair and substance to many pieces of artwork. The 28-year-old Waymart native earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in graphic design with a minor in photography at Marywood University and will obtain her master of fine arts degree in graphic design this July. The newly-married Biondo works as a full-time graphic artist at Marywood University, manages her own freelance business and enjoys chasing around her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Piper. Biondo recently entered the world’s largest advertising competition sponsored by the American Advertising Federation and walked away a winner, snatching up a National Gold ADDY Award. She’s always moving onto the next project while still making time to enjoy her family. Meet Tomlynn Biondo…
How did you get involved in graphic design?
I liked art since I was little. I remember that art classes were always my favorite — finger painting and all that fun stuff. I always loved it. I didn’t really get into graphic design until I had to choose a profession that was somehow related to art, and it seemed like the most practical choice for having a job and working with art. I always knew I wanted to do something with art. I visited Marywood and saw their labs and was interested.
So you knew you wanted to be an artist when you were very young?
The first time I realized I wanted to do art for the rest of my life was in third grade. I had to paint a picture of a jungle and I started doing all these really cool flowers with all of these colors. The combination of color and line work — I got really into it. I still have that painting. It’s framed in my daughter’s room. When I see it, I remember being in third grade and knowing that I loved it. I knew that I wanted to do something with design. I still do so many things that are not graphic design, but revolve around design. I don’t sit at a computer all day because I would just be crazy. I find myself screen printing tee-shirts in my kitchen one night, the next night I’m making a necklace, the next night I’m working on wedding photography and the next night I’m designing a poster. It keeps me interested.
What is your full-time position at Marywood and what does it entail?
I am in the Marketing Communications department and I am their graphic designer and work under the art director. I’m there Monday through Friday. It gives me that strict balance in my life. I have the whole freelance thing going on and my full-time job is where I can go and figure out my life again. It straightens out my life. I would be lost in the craziness without it. It gives me that organization.
Talk about some of your freelance work and how you approach it.
People would call me and say “I have a band and I need a flyer,” and I would just do it and tell them not to worry about paying me. Now I realize I have Piper and my time is valuable. I should be spending it with her and if I take an hour at night to do work, it’s taking away time from her. I’m realizing even though I love to do it, it’s still a job no matter what. Every project is different and I learn something different from every one.
You recently won an ADDY on the national level. Talk about that experience.
I won a student Gold ADDY award in the editorial design series category for book spreads that I illustrated for my MFA class for the story The Owl and the Pussycat. I won before at the district level and I made it to states last year. This year I was notified that I won something at the national level, but they didn’t tell me what. It was crazy. This is the biggest ad competition in the world. Just to be involved and get that far is amazing to me. A lot of local agencies donated to get me to the awards ceremony in Texas. It was a red carpet event that was all glam and everyone had their best work. I got to see the student category that I was in and also the regular ADDY competition, which is all the big agencies. It was like sitting and watching all of the Superbowl commercials because it was the best, funniest, coolest commercials, websites, and ad campaigns. It made me feel good about all the crazy work that I did, and that I was able to go there, relax and see other students and corporations doing awesome things with design.
Talk about the Raymond Loewy quote that you have posted on your website, “Ugliness does not sell.”
I feel like I’m torn with every project. I don’t want to be the advertiser that wants something to be pretty to sell it. It’s difficult every time to sit down and make something look good, meaning having good composition. Some people will send me two pages of text and want it on a flyer. That can’t work. I think it’s just compromising with people and compromising with the client on what they want and then my idea of making it sell. Ugliness doesn’t sell. My job is making it nicely composed, look good while still getting across what they want it to say. It’s always this battle between content and composition. My idea of what ugliness is changed a lot since I was a student. In the past, I looked at lines and colors. Now I’m more focused on the message and making sure it’s getting across.
It seems your personal life and professional work both involve a lot of balancing.
It’s hard. There are so many different aspects of life right now; being a mom, being a wife, being a student, being a staff member at a university. And I want to be good at all of those. That’s just the way I am. You’re always trying to move on to the next project. When I get done with something I move on to the next. There is always balancing and juggling.
— tom graham