Gillian MacLeod | Art Director & Designer

NSCAD Alumna Designs for Martha Stewart Living

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It’s true when they say that you never know where life can take you; little did Gillian MacLeod realize how this saying would reflect her life and her career. A NSCAD graduate (BDes ’03), MacLeod has a portfolio of work that many designers would kill for including: Nylon, House Beautiful Magazine, O Magazine, Elle, and the New York Times. Now living in New York, MacLeod is currently working in a position she never imagined, as the Deputy Art Director of Martha Stewart Living.

“I never expected to land where I landed. New York was always a big dream of mine that I didn’t really know was something I could accomplish. I feel blessed that I’ve been able to get where I’m at and be happy and confident in my career as a designer and an artist. NSCAD had a lot to do with that.”

Reminiscing about her university days, MacLeod was eager to comment on her time at NSCAD and how it impacted her.

“It was a really amazing experience; it provided me with a serious foundation for the design world. I developed a lot of good habits. The honours program did a lot for giving me tools in how to conceptualize things,” she said. “It was all about coming out with a process that can be applied to a lot of different types of work.”

Typography was her favourite subject in school. She spoke fondly about taking courses from Rudi Meyer, associate professor, and director of the MDES program at NSCAD University.

“Rudi is great; really early on I took an intro to typographic design class with him and we’re still in touch. He’s so fascinating and an incredibly intelligent person.”

MacLeod is busier than ever working on books, Martha Stewart Living Magazine and freelancing as an illustrator on the side, but she’s used to the fast paced lifestyle her time at NSCAD prepared her for that.

“I guess I would say it was like a discovery, it was really busy, school’s intense, and you’re just always working. If you’re not in the studio, then you’re at home working, especially at NSCAD, you want to take advantage of it while you’re there,” she said.

She attributes her success to a combination of versatility, flexibility, focus and surrounding herself with the right people. When discussing her work at Martha Stewart she said,“Being surrounded by all of the talent at the company, I feed off of the creative energy of other people. It’s really amazing being at Martha Stewart, it’s truly an amazing place.”

Photo of Gillian MacLeod

MacLeod’s passion for NSCAD is obvious to anyone who asks her about the school, one day she hopes to return.

“I love NSCAD, I love the building…it’s like a maze. I dream about coming back and maybe doing a lecture on the publishing world or something like that,” she said. Connection is a theme that popped up repeatedly while talking with the designer.

“There’s something about NSCAD, where there are ties that you make and they continue to come up again and again,” she said. “I did some work for an artist in New York who’s a professor at Vassar and she just so happened to be having a show at The Anna Leonowens Gallery. I don’t know, there are funny things that come up about NSCAD and New York, it’s a nice reminder of where I’m coming from.”

Her advice to future design grads is to “Take big risks. A lot of being successful is putting in the work, getting through the crappy jobs and paying your dues.”