During her 30-plus year career in graphic arts since graduating from Texas Tech University with a bachelor of fine arts degree, Lynn Smith has designed everything from archery equipment catalogs to tofu cookbooks and outdoor signs. But diverse projects suit Smith just fine and she has won numerous awards for her design work and photography through the years. Smith joined the Office of Continuing Education as a marketing specialist last November after working for 21 years for UI Extension. Smith designs the Allerton Park newsletter and Illinois Steward magazine, a publication of the UI department of natural resources and environmental sciences.
What projects are you working on right now?
I’m working on the logo for an umbrella for our all-staff retreat here in Continuing Education. But earlier today I was working on the new calendar for Illinois Steward magazine. I’ve been working on some signs for Allerton, and I’ve had to hike the trails there and photograph things. That’s the neat thing about this job: All the things I do for pleasure I do for work. I never know when I get here in the morning what the emphasis is going to be that day.
What’s your favorite part of what you do?
I like to do things that I don’t know how to do because it makes me learn something new. One time I did a job in the College of ACES that had to be printed in both English and Arabic. English of course is read left to right; Arabic is read right to left. So I had to design the publication to be viewed both ways and then make a presentation folder so they would be put together. That was pretty challenging. It was back when it was more difficult to find Arabic fonts and to find someone who could do the translating and the typesetting. I did food styling with all the cookbooks for the National Soybean Research Council. That was fun to be in the kitchen with the people who were designing the recipes and then to present the food so that it would look appealing in the photographs.
What kinds of things do you do away from the job?
My life kind of centers around art. I take the skills that I know from design and play at home in my garden. I have a lot of animals: a quarter horse, a Jack Russell terrier who was a rescue dog, a St. Bernard mix, an Afghan hound and some cats. I live west of town along the Sangamon. I’ve made trails all along the river so that you can ride, hike, cross-country ski and bike along our property and the adjoining ones. Our property is designated an Illinois Natural Heritage Landmark because we have the endangered Sangamon Phlox on it. We also have two different species of orchids. We live on a really neat piece of property that had been grazed but never farmed, so we have great native plants.
Did you have to go through an application process to get the designation?
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources actually asked us if we would like to participate because we have an endangered species on our property. When we have invasive species like the honeysuckle and the garlic mustard, they come out and help us keep those under control.
My husband and I also collect plants from around the world. We have some real rare plants, such as a tree from South Africa called the Medusa Aloe, a cinnamon tree, ferns, different kinds of cacti and probably six different kinds of jade plants.
I moved everything outside for the summer so that the birds can take care of all the pests. It literally takes me an entire weekend twice a year to move the plants back and forth. Every year we take one more piece of furniture out of the sunroom because there are plants from floor to ceiling in there. It’s nice to sit in there and the winter and feel like you’re in a jungle or desert and have the snow outside and above you.