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Creative direction involves a process to reach a goal (communication, research, execution, experience and trust). I’ve built a career on ensuring goals can be met—through problem-solving, coming up with ways to convey a message on time and on budget and managing a team juggling several things at one time. I am definitely an idea person, but I get things done and motivate others.

I received a B.F.A. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, majoring in graphic design and illustration (with a minor in interior design). My background initially focused on print—particularly magazine and book publishing, identity and collateral designs, with positions in both non-profits as well as for-profit companies. I’ve done magazine redesigns and print RFP’s, worked with illustrators and photographers on a regular basis, and my tenure at a small design firm began my feet-into-the-fire exposure to client pitches and client relations. But as I’ve gotten more and more into the web/digital side of publishing I realize I have an inner geek that enjoys logic and working with code—in the past few years I led the complete overhaul or creation of four corporate B2C websites, using WordPress. I love a challenge and I’m always ready to learn something new.

In the past couple of years I have been part of the founding teams and helped to launch two quarterly digital magazines. One, Boulevard, is a lifestyle publication based in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia (including Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Suffolk)—promoting economic development, dining, entertainment and interesting people. Involved from launch in 2020 through to the May-Aug 2023 issue. The content is directed at both locals and the extensive amount of tourists that visit the area annually. The other publication is MD Next, with an audience of medical entrepreneurs. With both magazines I created the identity, magazine design and layouts, website and media kits; I also manage the editorial teams, write features and other content, do significant editing and take part in the overall direction of the publications.

While I enjoy my career in design/communications, I continue to pursue a variety of creative outlets when I’m not in front of a computer—one of which is handcrafting artisan soap and body care products. In 2016 I founded a company called Simplí (which is Gaelic for simple and straightforward), and everything is made by hand from scratch with my own recipes. I also really enjoy product photography.

What I bring to the table:

Several years as a creative professional (designer and editor); hands-on, can-do attitude; adaptable manager and mentor who works hard and plays hard too. I also bring a sense of humor, a taste for good food and drink and a weakness for shoes. And purses.

Speaking of food and drink: In the fall of 2014 I launched a blog, Grate Bites, which focused on things related to the grilling lifestyle: food; craft beer, whiskey and bourbon; blues and independent music; festivals…recreational things that I happen to take seriously (well, somewhat seriously—I considered a piece on the history of cornhole). The concept, website, all content and social media messaging/distribution were done by me. I had done some writing before, but didn’t realize how much I really enjoyed it. Since its launch, I’ve interviewed international blues musician Barbara Blue, Grill Girl Robyn Lindars, esteemed Virginia winemaker/wine grower Chris Pearmund, as well as the founders of Operation BBQ Relief; I have highlighted craft brewery Dog Tag Brewing, which honors fallen U.S. soldiers on each of their cans, and discovered the next renowned wine region may be growing in China. I had been gaining followers in social media and subscribers at a rate of approximately 50 to 100 per week, but am taking a sabbatical from the blog for the time being.


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“To design is to communicate clearly by whatever means you can control or master.”

~Milton Glaser

    Don’t take my word for it….What others have to say:

    “I’ve worked with Julie for over 20 years; her experience from the early days of desktop publishing to the latest technology are clearly evident in her work. The flair she has for design makes for a complete package, and she is the first designer I recommend when looking for someone creative….” —B.H., Principal, Impressed Print Solutions

    “Julie Fanning is one of those unusual finds of true creativity, honed design skills, and experience. National Nurses Association has counted on Julie to produce timely, flawless, original newsletters and marketing material for over 18 years. She has never let us down.” —L.C., Executive Director, National Nurses Association

    “I have worked with Julie Fanning for the past ten years and have found her to be of the highest standards in graphic design. She takes time to educate her clients and to problem solve when needed. Julie delivers her products on time and within budget. She has always been aware of our non-profit status and our need for the best products for the price. I have always found Julie to be professional and willing to work with me to get the job done. She enjoys her work and it shows in her interaction with me and my staff.” —K.W., (Former) Executive Director, Association of Clinicians for the Underserved

    “I’ve worked with Julie for four years, which was 36 issues at The New Physician. She’s been the best of both design camps. If I’ve got a strong idea for the look of a piece, she’ll make it workable from a design standpoint. And if I’m all out of ideas, she’s got a bunch. She’s well-organized and timely, even when the rest of us haven’t been, but she’s good in a crunch, too. She’s saved our day on that last day plenty of times. And then she’ll laugh about it.” —P.T., Editor, The New Physician magazine (published by the American Medical Student Association)

    “We have really enjoyed working with Julie. We truly appreciate her attentiveness to detail and the speed of her responses for us. That has really helped us through this difficult conference prep time.” —G.C., Director of Membership & Marketing, Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired

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