Our latest installment of Women Across HOK features HOK’s goddesses of graphics: Julie Maggos and Kate Disabato. Along with fellow designer Derek Prior, Julie and Kate comprise the Photoshopping, text-kerning, exhibit-designing HOK Graphics team.
I met this dynamic duo in my first week on the job and have since witnessed their talents in action in projects like the Net Zero Court video (Julie) and book (Kate). These two aren’t just talented, though… they’re fun, too. Read on:
Instead of telling me about yourselves, could you tell me about each other?
Kate: I’d have to say that Julie is an excellent coworker. She’s very helpful, she’s always ready to give advice, she’s very fun… just full of knowledge and always gives a fresh perspective on things. It’s very easy to talk to her one-on-one, to go to her with whatever I have, whether it’s a personal problem or work-related. She’s a good friend.
Julie: I think Kate is very smart. A quick learner, very adaptable. She’s probably the most pleasant person to be around. I would not say the same thing about myself. She wouldn’t ever have an enemy in the world, and that’s really good to have on your team. The funny thing is that, outside of work, we’re both into running, we’re both graphic designers, so we have similar artsy interests. We both have dogs, husbands, houses…
Kate: We have a lot to talk about.
Julie: We have a lot of similar life stories. It just happens that I’m a couple years older.
Kate: And we wear the same clothes… not on purpose.
Julie: That happens a lot. People will come in and say, “You’re twins today!” We did not do it on purpose.
How did you meet?
Kate: I started as an intern in the summer of 2007.
Julie: Derek and I had interviewed this one guy and were so sure we were going to hire him, so we were just going through the motions with a couple more interviews. Then Kate came in here and completely wowed us with her portfolio, but also her presence. We had a long discussion at Starbucks and decided to stick with Kate, because we could tell she’d be great for the long-term, not just the internship. As soon as she was done with school, we snatched her up and she’s been part of our team ever since.
How does your work fit into the bigger picture at HOK?
Kate: Visually, it’s communicating our brand consistently – taking our brand elements and creating strong pieces that convey our messages. We create and implement smaller identities for different disciplines (sustainability, planning, etc.) under the HOK brand umbrella to create a “family.”
Julie: We have a responsibility to all of HOK. Anything that goes out the door needs to look good and make sense for who HOK is, so we have a pretty big role in that. We also fit in the client side because we do work for clients – wayfinding signage, environmental graphics, interior graphics. We do a lot of different types of projects , from retail graphics to a museum’s information graphics. We have to change hats a lot. We work for interiors, architecture, S+T, planning, marketing, advanced strategies, healthcare, aviation… I know everyone on this floor and a lot of people in other offices, too.
Kate: That’s our job – to fit in and let HOK shine. To support all our disciplines. To make a strong visual connection to the viewer while simply communicating who HOK is, what we do and why we are great at it – in whatever scale or medium we are designing.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Kate: I love the diversity, flexibility, and adaptability in our jobs… we have so many things thrown at us each day. It’s sometimes good, sometimes bad, but it’s nice that our field has a lot of variety. We’re not in just one program every day. It’s a fun challenge figuring out how to solve a complicated problem by using all of these different programs and processes. Each work day you come in and you have a plan for your day and it just completely changes within an hour. That’s what I love.
Julie: The first time I heard a definition of graphic design, it was described to me as solving problems visually. At the time, I was in high school. I was good at math and really liked art, and so I wondered how I could combine the two. It’s not that we do math on a daily basis, but it’s problem-solving that really makes our jobs fun.
What does Julie love?
Julie: (laughs) That’s my dog.
Kate: I mean, there are all these easy things to say. She loves challenges, whether it’s running or a big signage package that’s due, she just takes the bull by its horns and goes. She loves trying to find a new way to represent something. She’s really good at taking a step back and looking back at the whole picture, while sometimes I get sucked in and need to just get it done.
What does Kate love?
Julie: Kate loves Otto, her dog. Her family and friends, too… she’s a really good friend, I can tell. She definitely loves challenges. Like I said, she’s adaptable and enjoys doing a million different things all day long. We’ve just gotten good at it, because it’s a force of this job, to be able to answer someone’s question and go right back to what you were doing. You have six programs open at once, because it’s all going on at the same time. She loves running, which is awesome. We talk about that all the time.
What does Kate hate?
Julie: Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.
Kate: If those two things were never invented, I would be so happy.
Julie: We understand that they’re a necessary evil in the working world, but they’re not designer friendly.
What does Julie hate?
Kate: Comic Sans. I don’t know one designer who loves Comic Sans.
Julie: I’ve yet to ever use it and can’t think of any reason besides a comic book. I don’t do comic books.
Kate: She hates the word “crisp.” It gives her goosebumps. Never write “crisp” in Comic Sans.
Julie: …in Power Point. (laughs)
Kate: She’d have a heart attack.
Want to learn more about Julie, Kate and Derek’s work?
Click here to check out their interactive portfolio.