INA, Ill. – Though the path was winding, 2002 Rend Lake College graduate Skyler Taylor has used his graphic design degree to find the perfect fit for himself and his family: Vine Church in Carbondale. Taylor said he loves what he does; working for a non-profit in design that allows his creativity to flourish, but it also gives him time to set aside for his family. For him, it's not going to work every day, it's living the life he was born for.
Originally from Wayne City, Taylor attended Rend Lake College from 2000-2002 when he received an Associate of Arts Degree with emphasis in art and design. He took that degree to Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design.
“Being from Wayne City, a small rural town with a graduating class of 50 students, SIUC seemed like a metropolis. It sounds funny to say now, but the first time I was on SIUC’s campus, I was almost sick to my stomach because of how large it was,” said Taylor. “RLC was a great transition for me, because I learned a lot of life lessons. I think I would have had a lot further to fall if I went all in at a university.”
At RLC, Taylor said he remembers several staff members who stood out and pushed him the most toward getting an education, including Dorothy DeAngelo, Steve Kennett and Tracey Webb.
Though not technically an instructor, Taylor said DeAngelo taught him several important lessons, including one that he’s not likely to repeat any time soon.
“She hired me to work at the bookstore stocking shelves, but, good-intentioned as I was, I couldn’t seem to get to work on time. Once, she asked me to open the store while she was on vacation, and I was 30 minutes late,” he said. “When she returned, she quietly fired me. Luckily, I learned my lesson, and that job remains the only one I’ve been fired from.”
When it came to instructors, Taylor said Kennett was the one who pushed him the most academically.
“His philosophy class usually filled up very quickly, and when I finally got in, I understood why. No one had challenged me intellectually the way he did,” he said. “Many of my assumptions of who I was to ‘be’ were never the same after his class. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, for instance, still sticks with me, and started the long journey that eventually led me to give up commercial work and go full-time at a non-profit church.”
“Being involved in the theatre productions with Tracey are among my fondest memories at RLC. I loved every moment of it, even when she was frustrated with us for barely trying. Our improv troupe was also incredibly fun.”
After graduating from RLC and SIUC, Taylor started getting serious about his graphic design career.
“I have been fortunate in that I was able to get a job in my major almost immediately after graduating SIUC,” he said. “I started doing graphic design at a T-shirt shop. While I was there, I did illustration and layout for silk-screened shirts.”
About one year later, Taylor took a job with Arthur Agency, a small start-up advertising agency, where he kick-started a career with big projects, such as one for the Southern Illinois Miners baseball team. Together with the Arthur Agency team, Taylor created a logo, the mascots, team uniforms, and other elements found in the stadium today.
“They were small, but they had big dreams and were willing to take a lot of risk,” said Taylor. “I had a lot of fun and gained valuable experience working with clients, managing projects, getting files ready to print, and developing brand strategy for a variety of companies.”
Currently, Taylor is the Art Director and Lead Designer at Vine Church in Carbondale, where he gets to balance his personal values with his love of design. On the side, Taylor does freelance work that varies from branding local businesses to developing websites to planning technology conferences. His website, www.skylerraytaylor.com, showcases all of his work.
“Of course, with all the opportunities I’ve been afforded, I do make sure that my family gets the priority they deserve. Part of my decision to work at a non-profit in a place as small as Carbondale is too allow for my attention to not get diverted too easily from what I feel matters the most in my life,” Taylor added.
As for the future, Taylor said he isn’t planning on any big career moves, but leisure travel may be in the works.
“As much as I’d like to set out on another adventure and embark on something new, I know Carbondale is a good fit for my family right now. I feel like the work I’m doing in Carbondale at Vine Church is meaningful work, and I count myself fortunate to be a part of it,” he said. “At the same time, I’m allowing room for the possibility of travel, and even international travel, if the opportunity arises. At this point, I have friends in Switzerland, India, Scotland, and on both U.S. coasts, so there are a lot of avenues open.”