As the saying goes: “A picture paints a thousand words.”

Well, I can’t describe Senior Graphic Designer Ali Eagle’s artistic skills in just a thousand words, but I’d like to use at least a few:

Creative. Inspiring. Beautiful.

Whether it’s one of her many graphic designs for Brafton’s clients or a painting she made in her at-home studio, Ali’s abilities to create amazing works of art are nothing short of incredible.

Just take a look at these paintings she made:

The world is her canvas: Senior Graphic Designer Ali Eagle(She also made the main image for this article. My artistic skills are limited to drawing stick figures, so needless to say, I’m jealous.)

In her early years, Ali had hopes of becoming a mail carrier and dolphin trainer. When she got a bit older, she considered following in her father’s footsteps and becoming a chef.

But art has always been with her, as she’s had a passion for it since childhood.

“When I was younger and all of my friends were playing soccer, my parents were signing me up for art classes,” she said.

It was this passion that led to her getting her degree in studio art with concentrations in oil painting and graphic design at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. During this time, as she explained, “everything clicked.”

“I decided I wanted to pursue graphic design because I wanted to learn the Adobe programs and it seemed like a good way to use my fine art skills in a career after school,” Ali said. “Once enrolled, I realized how relevant design is to everything today. I was hooked. Design is all around us, and I wanted to contribute.”

A design star is born

In her two years at Brafton, Ali has moved from her beginnings as a Graphic Designer and Illustrator to helping move the Design team forward in her current role as a Senior Graphic Designer.

While her main responsibilities are to produce mostly digital branded assets for the company’s clients, including infographics, eBooks, white papers, case studies, custom illustrations and user experience design, one of her favorite parts of the job is that every day is different.

“I could be working on a website redesign for a tech company for days in a row, or I could be designing an infographic about travel,” she said. “I love the variety.”

Ali has worked on a vast array of projects at Brafton, one of which included a complete branding redesign for one of our clients. She was part of a team that redid the logo, website and print and digital collateral as part of the client’s overhaul. She explained this is an accomplishment she is quite proud of, as it was very satisfying to be part of a huge project from start to finish.

When it comes to the personality and style of their work, many artists often try to define their creations, but Ali’s skills span a wide range of styles.

“I like to think I am a design chameleon and can adapt to different styles for different kinds of clients,” she explained. “Things that do remain consistent are my love of color and drawing, and I think these elements shine through in my design work.”

Senior Graphic Designer Ali Eagle

A keen design eye – and mind

In today’s content marketing world, you’ve got to have more than sharp design skills to have a successful career. You’ve also got to have a lot of industry know-how, the ability to level with clients, and a willingness to keep on learning. And Ali has it all in spades.

For example, she’s not afraid to tell clients when a graphic idea or design needs to be toned down.

“Less is more when it comes to design strategy,” she said. “A lot of times, clients really want to cram a lot of information into one piece of collateral, which is understandable. But graphics work best if the actual graphic does the talking, not the words. I’ve had clients who want me to cram as much text as possible on the page – I think this is a design ‘no’!”

Ali also advised that brands stay in the know about outdated practices, especially in UX design. Websites with sliders and carousels are on the way out, and are better replaced with a static image or video. Additionally, she recommended that companies get rid of sidebars on their homepages and make their content the focal point of the page.

But what about the good stuff in graphic design that businesses should aim for?

“Custom illustration is a new trend that many brands are using, and they are seeing a lot of success from it,” Ali said. “Some examples that come to mind are Starbucks, Spirit Airlines, Troegs and Blue Apron. The imagery these brands use creates personal touches that resonate with the viewer and contribute to unique branding.”

Spirit Airlines custom illustration

Via Viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com

Troegs custom illustration

Via Brewhound.com

Ali also knows what it takes to make a career as a designer, and there are two traits that every aspiring creative must possess in order to be successful: the abilities to adapt and communicate.

“While you might have a different vision than the clients do, you need to be able to see an idea through their perspective to deliver a product they are happy with,” she said. “This also brings in communication – the ability to explain why things do and do not work is a special skill that designers need to have.”

Every day, Ali puts her artistic skills to the test, whether she’s designing an engaging graphic at Brafton or creating an inspiring painting at home. And every day, she passes that test with flying colors (yes, pun definitely intended).

Tressa Sloane is the Sr. Manager of Editorial Development in Boston. Born a Southern belle, she now resides in the chilly (but wicked awesome) Northeast, and when she's not learning everything she can about content marketing, she's obsessing over Elvis, Auburn football and France.