Hailey McDermott


Hailey McDermott is an MFA in graphic design candidate at Iowa State University and is expected to graduate in May 2024. She is a proud Midwest designer who grew up in rural Upper Michigan; she received her undergraduate degree in Wisconsin and then worked professionally at three Wisconsin-based advertising agencies before finally coming to Ames, Iowa, to pursue her master’s degree. At ISU, she has expanded her knowledge and understanding of graphic design not only as a profession and skill but has further explored the context of why it matters and how it can be used to positively impact our human experience. Hailey has done work for a few big brands professionally, most notably an exhibit for her favorite sports team, the Green Bay Packers. She is pursuing her MFA as she aims to shift her career from working in marketing to eventually becoming a professor of graphic design at a university. She wants to foster growth in students to inspire and motivate them to believe in the power of design to continue shaping our ever-changing world for the better.

What makes you feel inspired?

I view design as a means to craft a relationship between humans and our ever-changing world. I believe design can solve some of the world’s most complex issues. The biggest source of inspiration for me, therefore, is the motivation to use my work in graphic design as an opportunity to enhance the lives of people who interact with it in some way, either big or small.

What area or areas of design are you hoping to work in or specialize in?

I am looking to pursue graphic design education as a career once I complete my degree at ISU. I will be focusing my thesis on inclusive and ethical graphic design practices. I aim to do this by exploring in what manner graphic design plays a role in how society learns to interpret and understand identity through visual representation and how graphic design education can facilitate the creation of inclusive, counter stereotypical designs to prepare students for work in the industry.

What is one thing that design school has taught you that you did not expect?

Iowa State’s graduate graphic design program has expanded my knowledge of graphic design theory and practice, but most unexpectedly, ISU has taught me to integrate new creative technologies into my graphic design practice, such as augmented reality, 3D printing, and creative coding. I have also enjoyed learning how to integrate 3D modeling, animation, and video into my work.

Who is someone you look up to in your field? Either today or historically?

Jessica Walsh, designer, business owner, and educator, first broke onto the graphic design scene earning national recognition when I was studying graphic design in my undergraduate education and has since been a role model for me. I admire her work, but most notably, I look up to her as a powerful female creative business owner who uses her position to uplift people who identify as women and nonbinary people by offering mentorship and inclusive spaces through her nonprofit initiative, Ladies, Wine, & Design.

What are you reading, listening to, watching?

I am interested in media that expands my graphic design knowledge and challenges my creative thinking abilities, but I also use media to escape to other fantasy worlds. Right now, I am reading Extra Bold: A Feminist, Inclusive, Anti-racist, Nonbinary Field Guide for Graphic Designers, listening to Hell Bent, a fantasy audiobook, and watching reruns of Project Runway.
Photo taken by Graham Images.