“I have dubbed her work as ‘madgical.'” — C. Michael-jon Pease, Executive Director, Park Square Theatre
Madge Duffey is the graphic designer for Park Square Theatre. Before she had taken that role in 2008, she’d already had 15 years’ designing experience under her belt, from being a senior designer for Simon and Schuster to doing freelance design work for media and advertising firms as well as the Miami University Press.
When Duffey first joined Park Square Theatre, she began as a part-time development associate, delighted by the chance to switch gears in her profession and to work within an arts community. Her position required her to work closely with then Development Director C. Michael-jon Pease (now Executive Director) who recalled “wanting to hire her about ten minutes into the first interview” but realizing, “I can’t do that; I have to go through the whole process very thoroughly.” After hiring her two weeks later, he could not help thinking, “She would already have been on the job for a week if I’d just hired her that day!”
About six months later, it became clear that Park Square Theatre needed a full-time development associate. Though Duffey was not interested in taking on that full-time position, her design background had already proven to be an invaluable asset so she was able to continue working with Park Square by more specifically handling its design needs. The theatre used to have a junior designer as well; but about three years ago, Duffey took on all of the organization’s design work.
According to Pease, since Duffey began at Park Square as a development assistant, “she really understands our brand, our program and the personalities here.” Pease further reflects, “When she became our graphic designer, we were about a year in with (our new) brand and logo, and she brought the brand to life!”
Duffey explained how she did that. Essentially, she kept the design consistent, clean and reader-friendly. She always kept the logo on a white background followed by the color bar with the theatre for you. (yes you.) tag line, as Duffey put it, “allowing the logo and other branding items room to breathe.” She created a cleaner look by visually organizing a lot of information with a consistent layout so as not to overwhelm readers and so that all Park Square materials look like they come from Park Square Theatre. In essence, Duffey created an easily identifiable Park Square look.
As Park Square Theatre moved toward its 2016-2017 season, Duffey was tasked with modernizing the Park Square look. In the new season brochure, she replaced the bulkier catalog format with a handy, functional tri-fold one; utilized more color on a lighter background; inserted dynamic cutout images of people; and created a playful bubble pattern of Park Square’s signature colors. Anticipate more creative changes throughout the season. Duffey’s design work is on all the theatre’s publications, mailings, posters, signage, and website.
To successfully do her job, Duffey must work very collaboratively with others–the webmaster, photographer, marketing and development staff and organizational directors, amongst others. Her task is to find solutions to meet people’s needs, and Duffey is respected as a proactive problem-solver. Pease notes, “When she asks a question, she has already tried most possibilities and looked for answers everywhere else before she calls.”
“What’s truly rare about her as a designer,” Pease continued, “is that she has a degree in English, and she can use it. Even designers who have great language skills still create typos because their brain is looking at the text as an object rather than as words. Madge not only corrects my mistakes as she designs, she can write or rework copy as she goes. I usually see her first draft and think, ‘Oh, yes, that’s just what I meant, even though I didn’t say that.'”
Ultimately, Pease had to invent a unique description for what Madge Duffey does because there simply is no existing word to encapsulate its huge impact on Park Square Theatre. Through the sheer power of design, Duffey lends a strong hand in shaping the theatre’s identity, strengthening our tie to it, and preparing us for exciting changes ahead.