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Meet Suzanne “Q” Aloi, Westamerica’s Senior Art Director

When we create beautiful print collateral, packaging and websites it takes a group of highly trained and extremely talented individuals to get the job done. There are technicians that prep, print or write the code for these projects and there are creatives that imagine and design the project. To make these projects come together many times it takes a technician who is creative and a designer who has strong technical skills.

For the past 18 years, We have had the pleasure of working with a creative individual who has imagined and designed some of our most iconic work. We’d like to introduce you to Suzanne Aloi, the Senior Art Director here at Westamerica Communications. Everyone around our facility calls her “Q.”

We recently sat down and spoke with Q to learn a little more about her life and her work here at Westamerica.

When did you become interested in graphic design?

My mother was an artist so I grew up doing a lot of creative things especially drawing. In junior high, I was lucky enough to have access to art and design classes, one of them was Yearbook. That’s when I realized how much I enjoyed the design process and that it could be my career. I was provided opportunities to apply my skills in a commercial capacity early on and I designed my first professional logo when I was 13. I enjoyed the challenge of creating an illustration or trademark that is so simple, yet communicates quickly as an icon.

Which designers do you like and which have influenced your work?

Paul Rand tops my list. As Louis Danziger, one of my favorite instructors at Art Center, once said of him “He almost singlehandedly convinced business that design was an effective tool.” He was a visionary who transformed advertising and pioneered a fresh, modern approach to selling products. I really admire his corporate identity work, but he did everything. He demonstrated so well the simple idea that graphic design can, and should, be both beautiful and functional.

Did you go to school to train or was most of your training on the job?

Both. I was a self-motivated kid so in high school I had an independent study program. By then I was fairly busy freelancing with logos, portraits and various illustration projects. I was able to work on those at school and get class credits at the same time. Endless doodling in class lead one teacher to introduce me to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and that’s where I earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Packaging & Communication Design. It’s been a lot of years since I graduated and I have been fortunate to work with some amazingly talented people on all kinds of creative challenges. I learn from every person and every project so I consider on the job training an ongoing endeavor. I love to learn so I continue to take courses to keep my skills current.

What are three of your favorite projects at Westamerica Communications and why?

I’m happy to say there is a long list to choose from after all these years.

#1 The Contra Costa Water District

We created a series of informational wall graphics for the newly built John Muir Interpretive Center at Los Vaqueros Reservoir. Each focused on various aspects of the wildlife, history, ecosystem, and conservation of the watershed. Nature and history are a passion of mine so I love working on projects that teach me something in the design process.

As part of the fifth-grade science curriculum, students learn about the water system and canal safety. I was challenged to illustrate a fun, cartoonish map showing cities, roads, canals, trails, pump stations, and reservoirs as well as a long list of notable places, activities, and animals. It took several months to complete. I like that these projects utilized my illustration and design skills and they’re visually fun to look at. But more importantly, they’re serving a purpose as valuable educational tools for generations to come.

#2 Mellanox Technologies Inc., International Sales Incentive Program

With prizes like a new Range Rover, an all-inclusive safari, and other attractive prizes, the marketing of this specific program played on the allure of travel and adventure.

We created an early 20th-century vintage suitcase, complete with a magnetic clasp and a plastic handle. The case contained expansive creative content, including a passport, brochure, and campaign letter sent to all participants. To keep the program exciting, each month participants received a collection of “travel style” stickers featuring prizes and features to place on their suitcase. These monthly letters with stickers served to update the sales team and keep everyone focused and motivated.

This project was a great example of our full-service expertise. Our team was able to single-handedly provide structural and digital design, email and web creative content, along with print, all supporting one central campaign.

#3 Almost everything I have done for Shimano Fishing

I love fishing and the outdoors, so working on their brochures, catalogs, packaging design, logo designs, trade show graphics… a wide variety of projects, all were just a bit more fun and interesting because I love the subject matter and enjoy the high-quality products myself!

Thank you Q, Westamerica wouldn’t be the same without you!