I have a formal background in studio art, but I'm self-taught as a graphic designer. More precisely, I'm self-taught in the use of digital graphic-design tools. All visual-art media share the same basic design elements, and design principles work the same way whether you're using a wireless mouse or a piece of chalk.

My studio-art credentials include an MFA in painting and drawing, completed in 2002, and several years' experience teaching drawing and design as an adjunct professor. I wanted to have a college teaching career, back in the early/mid-aughts, but a series of health and family challenges took me away from that path.

Major life crises can have interesting indirect effects. In my case, effects include a lot of nonprofit communications experience, five years' residence in a shrinking cornfield town, and some pretty solid graphic-design chops. For the most part, I got those chops in the cornfield—I truly developed my digital-design skills in the unlikely town of Macomb, IL, where I became the creative developer and managing editor of The Macopolitan, a rural "alt-monthly" published under the auspices of a local nonprofit. Work samples from that project are included in the portfolio section below.


Design projects vary widely in scope and complexity, so I don't have a fixed rate structure for them at this time. I approach most design projects by talking with the client first—at no cost—to learn about her needs and objectives. Then I create a proposal that includes a project estimate and timeline for completion. 

My rates are very reasonable—affordable for the micro-businesses and nonprofits that have formed the bulk of my clientele thus far.


I design for print and web, with a slight emphasis on the former. I welcome print projects of virtually any kind: business cards, invitations, brochures, signage, and so on ad infinitum. I'm especially fond of print page layout, which is ideal terrain for my hybrid skill set.

I'm also happy to apply my design capabilities to websites and email marketing campaigns. I'm experienced with WordPress and with popular drag-and-drop site builders such as Wix and Squarespace.

portfolio | print design

portfolio  |  publication design

Below, four representative issues of the Macopolitan, an independent community-media outlet for the town of Macomb, Illinois, and environs.

The Macopolitan was a "placemaking experiment in print" aimed at reducing the town's socioeconomic fragmentation, promoting its under-recognized cultural assets, and fostering the growth of a local creative economy. The free monthly magazine featured event listings and editorial content from volunteer "citizen journalists” who were empowered to share their own stories pertaining to local quality of life.

portfolio  |  project branding

Below, Macopolitan bits and pieces: publication design elements, miscellaneous print collateral, and screenshots from the project's website, (The website still exists, but it is no longer under my control or administration.)

Copyright © 2018 Hillary McMahan. All rights reserved.