For Maria delFierro, Graphic Design/Production Manager and master of many skills at FASTSIGNS of San Diego, CA - Mira Mesa, her career path led her exactly where she needed to be. After graduating from the Art Institute of California - San Diego, she followed the same path as some of her family members and went into the medical field. But, Maria quickly realized that was not the field for her, so the Art Institute helped her find her current position at FASTSIGNS.
She has always enjoyed working with her hands and was a fan of arts and crafts when she was little, and as she has grown, she has done various creative projects on the side including freelance work. She has also designed birthday invitations and completed three to four wedding invitation projects. Another fun side project she recently did was installing 3D wall tiles to redecorate her bathroom. Her creativity is not confined to her workspace, and you could say she brings her work home.
While a talented graphic designer, she doesn’t spend all of her time in front of a screen. She is cross-trained in the different roles at FASTSIGNS from production to installation, and she is able to do everything from vehicle wraps to window graphics and wall graphics - everything but electrical work she says.
What keeps her job exciting is that it is different every single day, and she is able to wear a variety of hats to keep her engaged. What does a typical day look like? She and her team begin their work day with their morning meeting where they discuss all of their projects. After that, Maria updates the web report and Google Keep, adding proofs and assigned tasks.
“90-95% of the time I memorize the web report. My team likes to play a game where they ask me about sign projects to see what I remember.” Maria keeps her hand on the pulse of every project coming through design, production and installation.
On any given day, Maria will spend a specific amount of time focusing on design work and then she will switch gears. Some days she goes out on installation jobs or makes site visits. With organizational skills and a keen attention to detail, she is a project manager who keeps a close eye on production workflow, and oversees and coordinates the process from concept to completion. She even jumps in with her teammates to take orders and communicate with customers and assist with their needs.
Maria utilizes Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop as her main design tools. While Illustrator is her main canvas, she sometimes uses Photoshop if she has to remove a background from an image or scale a sign project.
“Creating signs is a lot like solving puzzles, and I think I like puzzles. I did a lot of Tetris growing up,” said Maria.
In a former role, she built phones and TVs from the ground up, and she has transitioned those skills into her work at FASTSIGNS. One of Maria’s strong suits is that she doesn’t let uncertainty or fear of a challenge stand in her way.
“I love building things, because it’s always a challenge,” said Maria. “You have to figure out how you will build what a customer wants in the way they envisioned it. Basically, we just say yes and find a way to figure it out.”
With the wide variety of projects she has encountered in her five years at FASTSIGNS, she often learns new ways to accomplish a task or relearns how to do something she had done before. And while new sign projects present new difficulties, Maria shared that having her team helps minimize the challenge from feeling overwhelming.
“We have a poster in our production area that says ‘Team work makes the dream work’,” said Maria. “We always talk about a sign project as a team. We work so closely together and lean on each other to leverage our strengths.”
As with every role at FASTSIGNS, including those who do a variety of tasks like Maria, no two days are ever the same.
“There’s not a dull moment at FASTSIGNS,” said Maria. “I love being in the center, and I learned quickly during the pandemic that I didn’t enjoy working from home. I just missed being here and with my team.”
One of her favorite projects to date was a sign that featured the periodic table of elements for a client who frequented trade shows. The finished product included dimensional components with 2nd surfaces and custom cut details, with specific elements highlighted apart from others.
With this project and many others, including her own projects, Maria noted how much she loves anything that involves patterns, even intricate patterns. This love of patterns and craftsmanship runs in the family as she has a cousin who is also a graphic designer. The two both enjoy building and creating various things.
With Maria’s eye for design and skill set to build, she is an incredible asset at FASTSIGNS of San Diego, CA - Mira Mesa. When asked what advice she might share with someone starting out in a design career and how they could get to where she is today, she offered a few words of wisdom.
“If there’s a will, there’s a way. Try to think of everything like a puzzle or map. Find layers and see how you might build it out,” said Maria. “If you have a big idea, just go for it. You’ll hit bumps but don’t forget your goal. Keep that in mind as you’re working to complete the project.”