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About Colleen Gratzer

Hi. I’m Colleen Gratzer. I’m a designer, brand strategist, educator and mentor.

I’m chief creative officer at Gratzer Graphics, an award-winning design agency that serves nonprofits, which I started in 2003. I have well over two decades of experience in branding, print design, and web design and development.

How I Started

I got my start formally studying graphic design in college. But college did not teach me all that I needed to know for the real world.

My first professional gig was as the sole graphic designer for a nonprofit, where I had no other designer or art director to bounce ideas around with. Even though my designs were well received, I didn’t always feel confident. Heck. Sometimes I’d send files to the printer and would have to fix them.

After that, I worked for a couple publishing companies and a design firm, where I was able to consult with other designers and challenge myself creatively. My confidence grew and I refined my skills even more.

I freelanced and held a full-time job for seven years before going out on my own full time. I made more money freelancing than at my full-time job.

Clients were wowed by my professionalism, my work and attention to detail and deadlines. This really set me apart from other designers, and clients would say so. This led to tons of referrals and a booming business.

Specializations

International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) seal.Since 2016, I’ve been doing a lot with accessibility—for InDesign and PDF files and for websites. In 2019, I was asked to provide accessibility training for the U.S. Department of the Interior. In 2020, I released a website accessibility course.

Brand Academy Certified Branding Expert seal.I’m also a Brand Academy™ Certified Branding Expert.

The Design Domination Podcast

I wanted to share my real-world graphic design and business expertise with you—what I’ve learned, what I’ve done right, what I could have done better. So I started Creative Boost and the Design Domination podcast in April 2018. Hear more about why I started the podcast.

Appearances

I’ve appeared on several podcasts and blogs and at events:

  • Logo Geek podcast.
  • WP Elevation logo.
  • Main WP.
  • Agency Trailblazer podcast.
  • This Design Life blog.
  • Freelancers Union.
  • Design for Geeks show.
  • Smart Web Creators podcast.
  • Nailing It! podcast.
  • Creatives Ignite 2020 logo.