Rosie Alyea

Experiential Graphic Designer

Rosie Alyea

Experiential Graphic Designer

Rosie Alyea is an artist and experiential graphic designer from Seattle by way of Illinois. She runs her own design and illustration studio, Wide Eyed. She is also a founding partner of Girlhaus, a design collective of three ladies and friends who want to bring the creative community of Seattle together through art and experiences. Her work has been featured in Geekwire, Artcrank, SEGD (Society for Experiential Graphic Design), and most recently published in, "The Best Vector Artists Worldwide, Vol. 1" (Crooks Press). Thanks for chatting with us Rosie!
© Rosie Alyea
© Rosie Alyea
© Rosie Alyea
© Rosie Alyea

What do you do?

I’m an Artist and Experiential Graphic Designer based in Seattle, WA running my own studio, Wide Eyed. I also work as the Exhibits Graphic Designer at MoPOP, the Museum of Pop Culture. Most people have no idea what I mean when I add the word “Experiential” in front of my title. In short, I work in the built environment incorporating thoughtful branding, illustration, and signage in various space types ranging from restaurants to workplaces, museum exhibitions, and beyond.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

I had two distinct career paths for myself. First, a baker, specifically of the cake variety! Second, a children’s book illustrator. I would spend days drawing and writing books as a kid.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a freelancer.

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and I’ve been making things with my hands and producing art for myself, friends, and clients for as long as I can remember. I love to work for myself, and I’m hyper organized, so I enjoy the business/analytical aspects of business.

When I first moved to Seattle, I lost my job after only three months. The studio went under with little warning. I was basically forced to work for myself and was thrown into the world of freelancing. One of my first freelance jobs was illustrating designs on socks, of all things, for a local startup. Being new to the city and not having many contacts to sustain my business, I knew it would be in my best interest to look for a full-time job. I landed an amazing gig at IA | Interior Architects, where I created graphics for workplaces around the world. I ended up staying at the firm for five years! My role was such that I was very self-sufficient, managing my own workflow and projects as well as client and fabricator relationships.

I finally decided to start my business because I knew I wanted to invest in myself and follow my passions to make art and collaborate with my local community.

© Rosie Alyea

When you first started, how did you find clients?

Honestly, there weren’t many projects I wouldn’t take when I first started. It was a very hard few years, now that I really think about it. I said yes to everything; worked for free, took on tiny projects for friends and family. I created vectorized logos and drew cartoons: anything that would keep me busy! My portfolio was like a jigsaw puzzle of disjointed feeling projects that didn’t say much about me as a creator. As time went on I knew I had to market myself, so it was all about creating relevant content. For a few months I stopped focusing on commercial work and started designing things I was proud of: designs that felt more like a projection of the work I wanted to create in the future. I was fortunate enough to build a presence on Instagram, and this is where the majority of my clients come from. For every one great opportunity there are 20 that were not a fit for me. So, as risky as it was, I had to start saying no and thinking about the future of my brand. By the time I decided to go full-time, I promised myself that every step I took would have to tell my ultimate aesthetic story, or it wasn’t worth my energy.

How do you manage working full-time and freelancing on the side?

I don’t have a good answer for this! I think there is instinctively this drive inside of me that keeps me going. With Wide Eyed, the work is really enjoyable. It’s never a chore, it’s my passion. I have been consistently told I’m a work horse, and I definitely work a lot. I do this because it’s extremely important to me to create things and make an impact somehow through my art and projects.

Do you have a motto that you work by?

Not necessarily. I believe in hard work, a good attitude, and making your own dreams come true.

How do you stay productive?

Productivity is unique to everyone. Some days I can check off all the things on my to-do list. And other days I can’t even get through one thing! I have to remember to be kind to myself and stay focused on the journey. I work better under pressure, always have. So if I’m feeling stuck, I’ll set a time limit for a task. I’ll give all I’ve got for that amount of time, and then I can step back and reevaluate what I need to do and how I can move forward.

© Rosie Alyea

What are you working on right now?

I’ve got a few murals in the books as well as a couple fun branding projects. I’m also in the process of planning and designing multiple exhibitions, stay tuned for more!

What is your dream project?

I’d love to design patterns for wall/floor tiles as well as wallpaper. I’ve always dreamed of creating an Interior Collection, with the goal to see my work adorn the walls of hotel guest suites or bespoke dining and retail spaces.

What one piece of advice would you give to a freelancer just starting out?

Stay on the sunny side. My mom tells me this all the time, and it’s always proven a good reminder for me when I’m feeling stressed or anxious about a project or situation. To me, this means to keep calm, be nice, and get out of your own head. Keep yourself grounded in positive thoughts, you got this!

“Keep yourself grounded in positive thoughts, you got this!”

What is the best piece of advice you've been given?

“You can do.” –Professor Heinz, UC DAAP

Tell us about a time in your career when you struggled.

I’ve always struggled with anxiety and depression. It’s not easy to mention this. The creative process and the act of making art, in any form, has helped me with my mental health. Art is my therapy, and I love making people happy with my creations. It makes me happy in return.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Working with my collective, Girlhaus, to design and install a 51 foot mural! This was the first mural we had ever done together as a team, and it was not an easy feat. Lots of trials, tears, and growth. But we did something incredible together, and I’ll never forget that experience or the sense of pride when we finished.

What are you listening to, reading or watching that is inspiring to you lately?

-SG Lewis
-Amber Mark
-Vendredi Sur Mer

-Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life
-Tales of Ancient Egypt

-Killing Eve
-Any baking competition!

What is your favourite piece of clothing?

If we measure this by most worn and washed, probably any of my beanies. I have a pair of studded boots I love, and I call them my Dolly Parton boots. She’s my spirit animal!

What is the strangest thing about you?

I like chalky foodstuff, mainly candies like Necco Wafers and Whoppers. XD

Who would you like most to answer these questions next?

Youngjerks or Ola Volo, who I met while painting the mural with Girlhaus. She’s the sweetest person, incredibly talented, and so down to Earth.

How can we find out more about your work?

Instagram: @wwideeyedd