Class of 2019 OSU graduate, Molly von Borstel, shares how her undergraduate experience shaped her future career as a senior book cover designer at Faceout Studio.
By Gabriella Grinbergs, CLA student writer - November 29, 2023
After graduating from Oregon State University with honors, a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, and an eagerness to create, Molly von Borstel, '19, worked her way to become a senior designer at Faceout Studio – a company that “illuminates unique stories and ideas with meaningful and beautiful visual expression through custom book design.”
Von Borstel arrived at OSU in 2015 from a school in southern Oregon and felt drawn to graphic design early in her college career. She entered the pre-graphic design program and began her track towards professional design school, which she was accepted into in 2016.
She also was accepted into the competitive FLUX design class, a student-driven design studio that undertakes external client work, as well as Chi Theta Phi, an academic-based design sorority. The sense of community and general encouragement she received from peers and mentors alike allowed her to grow personally and professionally.
“That first competitive year at OSU opened my eyes to the world of design,” said von Borstel. “I worked hard, learned a lot, and met some insanely talented people.”
Additionally, creative support found her early in life, though she didn’t know how to apply her artistic skills to an eventual professional environment. “My art teacher growing up really set me on the right path and opened my eyes to the possibility of making creative thinking a career,” said von Borstel.
Throughout her undergraduate experience, von Borstel appreciated how the OSU design program gave her “the core design tools and mindset to become any kind of designer and creative thinker (she) wanted to be,” specifically in courses on Typography (GD 226, 326, 327) and Brand Identity Systems (GD424), which explores theory and practice, and allows students to make their own visual branding project throughout the term.
This class, von Borstel explained, helped her realize her love of visual storytelling and set her up for her current position at Faceout Studio.
Intrigued by designing in the publishing industry, von Borstel was able to connect with her current boss following graduation from design school. While her professional focus wasn’t always on designing book covers, she immediately connected with Faceout’s fast-paced workflow and team members.
Producing a book cover design can be an extensive process filled with trial, error, involving constant communication with authors, editors, marketing teams, and publishers, about their story and the overall desired look. Several potential designs are developed and altered in collaboration with the author and graphic designer.
“Feedback, revisions, criticism, praise, and everything in between usually follow before we have a client cover approval,” von Borstel elaborated. “Production finalizes the full book design, and eventually I get to see my design in print, on shelves, online, or in your hands!”
Von Borstel encourages current and future OSU students to stay involved in their personal and academic communities, and surround themselves with people who will push them further in their ambitions. Communication and moving forward with confidence are also important aspects to the college experience, she said.
“I’m totally still figuring ‘it' out like the rest of us,” von Borstel admits, “but if any students need or want to reach out to someone in the industry, I’d absolutely love to help in any way that I can!”