Lex Poolos, 2020 MFA in Graphic Design
Lex Poolos has had an impactful career as a designer since discovering their passion for art as an undergrad. After finding their way to design and VCFA, not only has Lex become a graphic designer for the City of Charlotte, NC, they are the founder of Queer City Hangouts, an inclusive space for the LGBTQ+ community of Charlotte.
Lex participated in an e-interview with us in December of 2020. Below are edited excerpts from our conversations about design, the importance of community, and studying at VCFA.
ON THEMES THAT EMERGE IN THEIR WORK
I’ve noticed I tend to lean toward activism design and anything involving identity, especially as that relates to the queer community. 2020 has really made those themes stand out. Graphic design is a medium of visual communication with a mass communication function, so if anything it’s become more apparent to me how integral our role can be.
Currently, I’m on the communication team for the Charlotte city government, I’m in the (Zoom) room where decisions are made on how and what information is given to our residents. As a designer it’s exciting to have a seat at the table where a lot of change can happen in terms of accessibility and otherwise. I get to see my work directly affect my community basically whenever I leave my home. That’s sick.
ON CREATING QUEER CITY HANGOUTS
About two years ago when I moved to Charlotte from a small North Carolina town, I was hyped to finally meet people safely and openly in the LGBTQ+ community. And while I was able to meet a few people through a few organizations and—let’s be honest—the bars, I hadn’t really found a group to hang out with in a low-pressure, calm environment.
After asking around and listening to the people I knew who’d long been part of the local community, and through my own graduate research into Charlotte’s queer history, I felt I identified a need! Something that could serve more than myself, but to anyone who is looking for a more low-key way to experience and meet other people in the LGBTQ+ community.
With what I’ve learned, Queer City Hangouts was born! It’s a monthly event series hosted at rotating locations around Charlotte. Hopefully, it creates a needed space for Charlotte’s queer community to meet and learn from each other.
Note: In-person events such as game nights, indoor rock climbing, and rugby watch parties have since halted due to COVID-19. You can keep up with Queer City Hangouts updates on their Facebook and Instagram.
ON COMING TO VCFA
I finished my undergrad with a double major in Graphic Design and Instrumental Music with a focus in trombone (idk) and felt like I just had so much more to learn and didn’t know where to start. I knew I wanted to teach at the college level one day, so I decided an MFA was the way to go. I had no idea how much of an impact it would have at the time or that it would provide me this momentum for self-learning for my life—even after graduation.
The biggest benefit for me was having faculty and peers all over the nation (and world) to give a literal global view. I was in a weird spot when I first started my grad school career, and my first advisor, Silas Munro, basically blew my head off with all the design and queer culture knowledge he has. I’m not sure when or if I would’ve explored the history and context of my own identity in design or in general without him. I’ll be forever grateful for that and will always keep choosing VCFA as family.
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF FINDING COMMUNITY
It’s important for anyone to find community, but as an artist or creator to not find connection with other people can be especially isolating. I spend a lot of my time alone—which, as much as I love, too much of anything is unhealthy. The community I’ve found at VCFA has made me feel like I’m part of something bigger than just me crouched over my keyboard at midnight with a sleeve of Oreos researching typefaces.
You can view Lex’s personal work at lexpoolos.com and their VCFA thesis on YouTube and at their thesis website.
Read more stories about our Alumnx through our Alumnx Success series. Interested in an MFA in Graphic Design? Visit our program page for more information on our VCFA graduate degrees.