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One Designer’s Leaps + Bounds.

  • attended Waukesha West High School,Waukesha, WI
  • graduated 2003, BFA Industrial Design
  • currently works as an industrial + point of purchase display designer at DCI Marketing, WI

Laura Hackbarth

“My MIAD education got me the job that I currently have. One of my instructors saw potential and talent in me and offered me an internship with the company he worked for. Eventually that internship turned into a full-time job with benefits.”

A small child stands in one of the toy aisles at Target, and I stop briefly to watch him. His hands on the controllers, he is intensely focused on the small screen and learning game he’s playing. And this is the exact connection that Laura Hackbarth hopes for every time she creates a display. Point-of-purchase displays, like this one holding the Leapster L-MAX, allow a consumer to learn more about the product, and possibly even take it for a ‘test drive’, before buying. Hackbarth strives to find ways through her designs to get buyers excited about their purchases. And that little boy was definitely excited.

Q. As a child, what did you think you wanted to be when you grew up?

A. When I was a child, I couldn’t decide between being a zookeeper or a pizza maker.

Q. What is your first memorable experience with art and design?

A. In seventh grade I won an art contest. My still life drawing of glass jars drawn with ebony pencil took first place.

Q. What was the most valuable thing you learned at MIAD?

A. I would have to say that the most valuable thing I leaned at MIAD is that it is important to have a well-rounded education and to learn from the other students and faculty that cross you path while you are there. I know that sounds generic, but having liberal studies classes were a very nice break from the studio courses. You continuing learning about other subjects and are reminded that there is more to life than just art.

Q. What’s the one thing you would tell a high school student who is considering attending MIAD now that you have experienced life after graduation?

A. MIAD is a great school headed in an exciting direction. I know many of the students that I graduated high school with just kind of brushed over MIAD because they wanted to get out of the state. It is truly a unique school with an extremely valuable faculty. It’s hard to find a school which brings together so many major in one building like MIAD does.

Q. If you had to sum up your job in a single sentence, what would it be?

A. I work at a point-of-purchase and display design company where I do hand sketching, computer modeling, and prototype building, and travel around the world.

Q. What are some of your goals for the future, in design and in life?

A. As of right now, my goal is to gain an industry knowledge of point-of-purchase and display design. Since I initially went to MIAD to be a drawing major, I want to get back into doing mixed media drawing and painting for myself, and possibly some commission work. I also have a lot of interest in traveling, though I haven’t gotten to too much of it until I graduated. I want to see all fifty states before I’m fifty years old.

Q. Are there any specific parts of your résumé that you’d like to share? Any notable products or displays that are on the market?

A. I’ve done some substantial work since starting at DCI. At twenty-four years old, I’m the lead designer on the LeapFrog account (the third largest toy manufacturer in the world).

This Fall, four of my displays for some of their small learning products were launched in stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, and Toys-R-Us.