Everyone’s path in life is different. Some people say they know what they want to do at a ridiculously young age, claiming they came out of the womb practicing their talent. For others, the journey is their life’s course. Morgan DiPietro’s path is more curved than straight, but she found her bliss as a graphic designer and artist at 29.
DiPietro grew up in West Cumberland, started playing basketball in fifth grade and was hooked. In sixth grade, she decided she wanted to earn a scholarship to play in college. From that point on, it was an “eat, sleep, breathe basketball lifestyle.”
For as long as she can remember, she felt most comfortable communicating her ideas through pictures and words.
“I’ve always been a creative person but most people never saw that side of me,” DiPietro said.
In high school, she made motivational posters for teammates, hilarious birthday videos for friends, doodled, created collages and took lots of pictures that were plastered all over her bedroom walls.
“Art was a fun way for me to connect with the people I cared about,” DiPietro said.
Six years after setting her goal, her dream was realized when she accepted a scholarship to play basketball at Bentley University, a business school in Massachusetts. The basketball program was, she said, “amazing and the right fit.” After taking a course in business in high school, she was interested in marketing – the creative side of business – and earned a degree in business communications and marketing.
During her four years, basketball was a full-time job and her focus. She found her business classes at Bentley “extremely boring.” Her favorite classes were digital photography and video sound design.
“For my final sound design project, I made a video about what it was like to be a Bentley basketball player. I used photos and video clips that I took throughout my senior season,” DiPietro said. “A year later, I learned that my coaches were using the video as a new recruiting tool.”
While learning a lot, she didn’t feel “connected to the kinds of careers that my classmates were striving for.”
After college, DiPietro joined AmeriCorps VISTA in Providence, R.I.
“It was a way to try something new and work for a good cause,” she said, “but really, I didn’t know what else to do.”
Providence would be the place where she could transition out of an identity defined exclusively by basketball and figure out what was next. She started creating art again, painting, collages, drawing – filling her apartment with artwork.
“With Brown and Rhode Island School of Design in my back yard, I was exposed to a much more creative community in Providence, too, and met a lot of new, eclectic and intriguing people that just weren’t around at a school like Bentley,” DiPietro said.
She made lists in her journals that ranged from wanting a job that allowed her to creatively problem solve, to simpler things, like being able to wear jeans to work. She didn’t know what that job was going to be, but knew what it would look and feel like.
The AmeriCorps VISTA position was located at the Rhode Island School of Design, arguably the best art school in the country, and in DiPietro’s mind, this was not a coincidence.
As the end of her two-year service neared, again, she worried about what to do next.
“I was unhappy at the time and finally I just realized the only thing that was resonating with me was my art. I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to do that I was passionate about,” she said.
She knew she needed to go back to school.
“I’m an all-or-nothing person who never half-asses anything.” DiPietro said.
After applying to Maine College of Art and the Pacific Northwest College of Art, she went with her gut and Portland, Maine, not Oregon, just felt right. And for DiPietro, it was financially responsible to come home to Maine, too.
“The roots of who I am are here in Maine, and coming home enabled me to tap into that, but then branch out from it, too.”
Once the choice was made, she focused and pushed herself, similar to how she achieved so much success on the court.
Some notable projects include working with Portland-based designer Angela Adams, as well as wining a competition for her packing design for Geary’s Summer Ale in 2011. She also designed the 2010 and 2011 Maine College of Art holiday sale window, as well as the posters.
She graduated from MECA in spring 2011 and is a print and interactive designer at Might + Main, a small branding and design agency in Portland – the same place she interned after graduating from MECA. She was hired full time a year later in February.
“My job at Might & Main is the culmination of all the lists I made in my journal while living in Providence,” DiPietro said. “I love the work. I am challenged every day.”
Morgan DiPietro DiPietro’s design for Geary’s Summer Ale won the annual contest for MECA students in 2011.
Morgan DiPietro created this window design for Maine College of Art’s holiday sale in 2011. A favorite project, the display was “great, because it was less traditional graphic design, and I was working with my hands and building things in a 3-D-environment,” she said. It featured hundreds of spray-painted balls of yarn.