Class of 2002

Lacey Waterman is an Art Director and Graphic Designer currently based in New York. She has been working in both Los Angeles and New York since obtaining her BFA in Advertising from Art Center College of Design in 2008, and most recently earning her MFA in Graphic Design at Yale University in 2014. 

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles where I spent the majority of my childhood drawing and painting. When I was three years old, my mom sat me down at our kitchen table and carefully started drawing a series of letters on lined notebook paper. She told me I was going to write a thank-you note to everyone who came to my birthday party that year. She had custom stationery printed for the occasion and when my mom was finished drawing the letters, she handed me a stack of cards and instructed me to copy the letters she drew. I sat for hours with intense focus on getting each letter to look as purposeful as my mom’s. They weren’t perfect, but I was proud of my work. My grandma was impressed enough to keep hers on her refrigerator for over 25 years. My mom’s house is still filled with countless treasures from my DIY misadventures as a kid. 

The first time I applied to Ryman I was turned away, but I didn’t let that stop me from applying the following year. I was so excited for my first critique, the car ride from Encino to USC felt like a lifetime. I was sure I would get a pat on the back, but instead I was seriously critiqued for the first time, not as a kid, but as an adult. These critiques motivated me and pushed me toward achieving my goals as a serious artist. Ryman showed me that my hobby could be turned into a way of life and career. 

Once I got a taste of the curriculum at Ryman, there was no turning back. I was so excited to pursue art full-time, that I took night classes in order to graduate high school a year early as a junior. I was lucky to have a support system around me that shielded me from the obstacles that come with being a young artist. It’s not until I reflect back on it, that I realize how insane I must have sounded when I told people I wanted to start college at the age of sixteen. Without Ryman and the support of my family, I never would have had the experience or confidence to apply to art colleges a year early. 

I attended the Art Institute of Boston and then transferred two years later, finishing my degree at Art Center. While my path as an artist has shifted as I’ve gained more experience, my goal has always been the same: make a career out of my passions and that’s exactly what I’m doing. It’s not always easy, but it’s certainly exciting and deeply fulfilling. 

Since finishing my MFA last spring, I’ve been working as a freelancer. It has been a great way to gain experience on multiple clients and see how different companies operate. One of the most memorable places I’ve worked is at Google's Creative Lab in New York. I helped launch an advertising campaign for Android. Over the course of four months, I drew over 150 Android characters, with interchangeable parts, that live and breathe within the Android world. These characters were used to capture and celebrate the uniqueness and individuality of the world’s billions of people, and were used in executions across a broad spectrum of media. It was a thrill to see the work go live in Times Square and have such a positive impact on the community. Not only was I doing fulfilling work at the Creative Lab, but it also delivered on its promise to be a collaborative, efficient and fun work environment. The time I spent there was very special and I was both honored and humbled to be a part of the team.

My advice to current students would be to trust your gut and treat everyone with the utmost respect. The creative community seems large at first, but the longer you’re immersed in it, the smaller it becomes. You’ll make mistakes along the way, but be sure to learn from them. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you feel stuck, ask for help and seek out new opportunities. If you stay focused on the big picture and try not to sweat the small stuff, you’ll do just fine! 

To learn more about Lacey, please visit:

Follow her on Instagram