The art and heart behind graphic design

UI Student Haley Peterson uses her graphic design skills to explain data and to express her passion for breaking social norms.

Madison Lotenschtein, Arts Reporter

From designing menus to ads and brochures, graphic design comprises a number of creative professions. Most works of art appear every day in people’s lives, having an effect on how they interpret the message of what is being presented to them.

There are many different ways to do graphic design, and University of Iowa student Haley Peterson uses her abilities in type and design to help students and empower women.

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As a graphic design and marketing student, Peterson works with the University of Iowa Student Government and creates fun yet informative ways of keeping students in the loop. She designed the Renter’s Guide this semester, which is handy for those who wish to leave dorm life. The UI junior also spreads awareness through irony with her artwork.

“In high school, I did a series and had 12 photos of a different woman, each of whom was breaking a social norm,” Peterson said. “One woman had tattoos on her arm, and I had words across the picture saying, ‘That’s not very ladylike.’ I like to focus on empowering women.”

The artist draws from her inspiration of a famous graphic designer, Shepard Fairey, who designed Obama’s “Hope” campaign poster and other well-known works of art.

“I did another project that shows a little girl wearing a hard hat and construction outfit,” Peterson said, “It symbolizes the saying of ‘you can’t be that when you grow up’ and focuses on the stigma of women in construction work. Another photo I took was of a family friend of ours who is a judge, and I used text on the photo saying ‘women are too judgmental.’ ”

Both pieces symbolize professions that women are often not known for or are thought to partake in very little. An artist such as Peterson can help bring ideas of awareness and change to a university campus and beyond.

“I love that art is so expressive because it allows for people to share messages that they believe strongly about,” Peterson said. “I also think we can use art to help make the world better because art transcends language.”

As a child, she always interested in art and photography and knew she would work in a creative field in the future. Interior design and architecture were premier choices for her, but when math crept onto the scene, the young artist decided to study graphic design upon enrolling in the university.

“In the future, I would love to work creatively at an advertising agency,” Peterson said. “I want to help brands find their style and make their projects come to life.”