Spend any time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend and you will likely see the work of Informatics alumna Lauren Smith.
Smith, a 2009 graduate of the Media Arts and Science program, created one of the designs being used by Izod IndyCar this year for a new line of clothing.
“I’m part of the art department at Lids Team Sports, which is a division of Lids that provides custom jerseys, spirit wear, and uniforms to schools and organizations across the country,” Smith explained. “Lids was started right here in Indiana, and its corporate headquarters is just 15 minutes from where I grew up [in Zionsville].”
Smith says there are 21 people in the art department and the entire team is responsible for creating the artwork for various sports teams and organizations. But the Izod IndyCar project was extra special for Smith.
“I was particularly excited because racing has always been a part of my life,” she said. “My dad used to race cars, so when he was home, the television was always tuned to one or more races.”
She says the art department was given the freedom to develop more than 60 potential designs for Izod IndyCar. Once the designs were created, everything was critiqued and Izod narrowed it down to their favorite designs. Then production began.
“Right now, my t-shirt design (as well as others from my co-workers in the art department) is available to buy on the Izod Indycar website, as well as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Smith said.
She had her photo taken with one of her t-shirts at Pole Day last week, and a family member also spotted the shirt at a track in Florida. “…so it’s all over the place!” she said.
Smith, who particularly enjoyed her digital storytelling classes as an undergrad, says her position at Lids was exactly what she was looking for in a career.
“I knew that I wanted to end up in a creative environment with creative people,” she said. “My biggest passion has always been illustration and I’m extremely lucky to have found a job that allows me to use my skills to create fun logos and designs that people will actually buy and wear. I’ve also learned quite a bit from my coworkers. It’s amazing how being surrounded with creative people will enhance your own creativity.”
Smith credits networking and keeping her skills sharp with helping her land the position at Lids.
“I was first told about the position at Lids Team Sports by a friend I had met at IUPUI, Jon Scott,” Smith said. “He had been working for a different part of Lids for a couple of years and spoke very highly about the company. In fact, he had put in a good word for another friend and former classmate, John Hazard, to work in the art department several months before. So when I went in to interview, I had the benefit of already having two good friends within the company who were putting in good words for me!”
In addition to networking, Smith advises recent college graduates to never give up in searching for that ideal job.
“Make friends and keep your eyes and ears open. It took me three years after graduating to find my way to Lids, and on the way I worked in call centers and legal offices to earn a living,” she explained. “In every job I had, I made a point to let my employers know what I could do, and they started giving me creative projects to work on. It was important for me to have that outlet while working the jobs I didn’t necessarily like, and it helped keep my skills sharp for when the opportunity at Lids did come up.”
As for her next big project, Smith says more designs are forthcoming.
“We’re constantly getting projects in addition to our regular workload, but these projects are still in the works, so I can’t tell you much more than that!”
To purchase a t-shirt featuring Smith’s design, visit: http://shop.indycar.com/style/Racing-Mens-Blur-T-Shirt/20396042