February 13, 2023

Design Feast’s Makers Series—123rd Interview: Information Designer & Consultant Sandina Miller Materializes Honest and Humble Clarity

It was the typographic nerdy of Sandina Miller’s Twitter feed that led me to her work that focused on a discipline I cherish a lot: Information Design. Here at Design Feast, she articulates her passion for making communication that’s as clear as it can be to guide effectively its recipients.

Firstly, congratulations on exceeding a decade as a Typographic Designer and Consultant! What does independence mean to you? As it relates to creativity, making, working.

Thank you! The time’s gone fairly quickly. When I initially moved from on-staff to freelancing, my focus and background were in wayfinding as well as print typography with a smattering of digital design. Now I’m increasingly focused on communications.

Being independent means I can be flexible and more in control when working on my own projects. It also means I bring a different perspective when I do projects with on-staff design teams. Creatively, it can be both freeing and taxing. I decide my own schedule which means I can take a break when I need it without worrying about contracted hours. However, the flip-side is I can get engrossed in work and forget to take a break—this is where the office tea-breaks are handy! Also, working at home alone means I don’t get to enjoy the team-vibe of being in a studio. I miss the catch-ups, chatter and impromptu feedback that improves my ideas and stimulates me to think in different ways. I also miss the mutual support of agency life: being in a studio and able to turn around and ask for or offer help.

How did you become interested in a career involving typography, information design, communication design? Who, what helped motivate you?

Good question! I’ve always had varied interests—from philosophy to maths (yes, really although my maths cells now seem to have deserted me)—but design won. Before university, I did the International Baccalaureate (IB) at an international college. IB schools emphasise extra-curricular activities and I did a few, including writing and doing layout (Anyone remember PageMaker?) for the college magazine. When it was time to apply for university, I chose the University of Reading where I got a scholarship to study typography and graphic communication. The Reading course was a great mix of hands-on vocational work with history and theory to keep me more intellectually engaged.

My university mentors (especially Gerry Leonidas, Paul Stiff, Sue Walker and Paul Luna) supported and encouraged me on several major projects: from type design to wayfinding to my dissertation on newspaper design.

After I graduated, I worked with Mark Barratt and the Text Matters team in Reading, UK. It was an intense time, and I grew a lot as a person and as a designer. I learned so much about practical adjustments, working with clients from academic, public and non-profit sectors, real-world digital design, and accessible, inclusive design.

Over time, I became a facilitator as well as creator. Whether I worked on a map, a poster or a social media marketing plan, the core was managing different elements, content and people to develop solutions. The people I met, worked with and learned from—whether at university or professional working at Text Matters—all helped me build on my formal training to become 

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