My Life as a Bitmap

Wray Ward is excited to introduce Vivian Mize, vice president and creative director. Vivian is a passionate brand marketing expert with experience on both the agency and client side of design. 

It all started with a billboard.

The year I turned 15, I won a design contest. That led to my artwork being featured in Zoo Miami’s outdoor advertising campaign. All my life, adults had asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And suddenly, I had my answer – not in bright, flashing lights, but in hand-painted strokes on a 90-foot board stretching into the sky.

Graphic design has been my dream job ever since.

I’m Vivian Mize, and this is my story.

Paper cuts and poisonous fumes

Not long after my proud billboard moment, I went to work for my uncle’s advertising agency. I can’t imagine doing my job without computers today, but back then, I didn’t have a choice, so I soaked up as much knowledge as I could. I cut a mean curve with an X-ACTO blade, and I’m sorry to say I likely inhaled my fair share of printing chemicals.

I survived the paper cuts and poisonous fumes to snag an internship with the Miami Herald, where I expanded my design dexterity on computers the size of a small car.

My senior year, I earned a scholarship to Ringling College of Art and Design. I packed my paintbrushes and my passion, and I left the relative comfort of home to chase my dream.

Ringling was good to me. I netted more knowledge and a fine arts degree and even an artist husband for good measure. After graduation, I dove into my career with the kind of energy that flows when you’re young but also when you love what you do.

The war room

I’ve been at this for nearly 20 years now – remember, I created layouts the old-fashioned way at my first agency job – and in that time, I’ve only grown my love for the business.

I’ve sat on both sides of the fence – I spent nearly a decade delivering brand experiences for Carter’s, Inc. after serving national clients at Georgia shops – and touched every part of the creative process. I love brainstorming, concepting and collaborating. Unless it has blue water and palm trees, there’s no place I’d rather be than the war room. I love seeing things through the whole cycle, from idea to shelf. I love how, as an artist, I can inspire the whole future of a brand instead of a single component. I’ve even done a little product design. I’m unapologetically enthusiastic about telling stories, and I sink my creative teeth into every project I touch.

The parts that make us whole

In my designer life, I’ve spent a lot of time with bitmaps – collections of bits that together produce a structure representing a graphic image.  The color of each pixel in a bitmap is separately defined, but as a whole, they create a cohesive image. Yet if a single pixel changed, the image would be altered.

Life is kind of like that, too.

I wouldn’t give up a single thing from my long, colorful career as a graphic designer. Even X-ACTO knives have a special place in my heart. After all, they helped lead me here.

It’s important to love what you do. But you have to love your colleagues as much as your job, and the culture at Wray Ward makes that easy. This place just oozes passion – for people, for imagination, and for delivering great work. I can’t wait to get into the war room with this group.

I’m still learning my way around the halls, but I know one thing for sure:

I’m a long way from Miami. But this is home. 

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