Alumni, Campus wide, College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Young Alumni: Madi Kirkwood ’20

By CSU Media | March 9, 2021

Madi Kirkwood ’20, graphic design major/business administration minor, is the owner and designer for Mae Creative, a freelance graphic design company specializing in branding and advertising. While at CSU, she completed five internships including CSU Marketing and Communication, Obviouslee Marketing, and Trident United Way. She’s been featured in Indigo, the annual CSU graphic design newsletter in 2019 and 2020. She resides in Charleston where she is on her sixth internship as a social media manager for Charleston Hospitality Group, where she runs social media pages for various popular restaurants in the Charleston area. Learn more at her website MaeCreative.graphics. 

Madi Kirkwood. Photo by Ellen Charis Photography

The need to create

My desire to become an artist has always  resonated  with me since I was a small child. It started with using art to connect to my emotions and grew to using art to help study coursework and create relationships between material and memorized knowledge. As an adult, I find that it is important to connect to your community and form relationships with people: the way that I do that is through design and advertising. I now feel the need to create because the world needs to connect. Creating aesthetically pleasing forms of traditional or digital art is how knowledge of social awareness topics, emotions, or messages spread, therefore connecting those who  understand  each other. The need to create doesn’t only go as far as publishing pretty pictures but to connecting to the world around you. 

Professional goal 

My goal for my career as a graphic designer is to eventually gain a position in project management or creative directing. I love to lead others to their full potential while still learning more about how others can complement my strengths and weaknesses. I would also eventually like to run my freelance graphic design business, Mae Creative, full time in the future.  

Life as an artist 

My choice to go into an art field as a career has most definitely been looked down on by many people, including some loved ones. While I listen to those who say things along the lines of: “you won’t make enough money” or “think of your future,” I also try to explain to them that my passion for design is not about the money but about the impact on others that I can have. As a freelance designer, there is also a lot of potential to gain more recognition and be able to charge as you see fit due to your portfolio and reputation. Maintaining this is tough but rewarding in the end. All in all, in my short time as a designer, I have felt more wholehearted and satisfied with my career than I have ever felt with anything. That being said, I respond to skepticism with a simple: “I wouldn’t want it any other way.” 

Best career advice 

“Don’t compare yourself to other people.” There’re so many people who compare themselves to others and then don’t unlock their full potential: everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Putting aside your pride and asking someone whose strength is your weakness is a major part of this: you should always be willing to learn from those who can teach you, but never fearful to practice your style and originality while using the knowledge and skills you learned. 


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