MADfest Brings Harvard Graphic Designer on the Hilltop

By Natasha Muhametzyanova, Contributing Writer

All roads lead to West Liberty. WLU alumna Melissa Lambert Marshall’07 returned to campus as one of the judges for the 16th annual Media Arts and Design Festival (MADfest). 

During these nine years away from the Hilltop Melissa tried herself in different jobs, moved to Boston and changed her name to Marshall Lambert. Between her work at the Harvard visual design lab and teaching at Boston University Lambert found time to come back to the place where her story began.

“I remember this room used to be a photo lab. I spent so much time here,” said Lambert walking in Fine Arts Hall, room 210. There Lambert talked to students about her professional and personal growth in a lecture From Hilltop to Harvard on Thursday, April 7.

“It took me awhile to figure out what exactly I want to do in life. I changed many jobs trying to find a place which would let me be myself. I wasn’t happy with all of them, but now I see how all those experiences helped me become better at what I do. Sometimes you have to design t-shirts to work at Harvard,” said Lambert.

Lambert dived into the professional world of graphic and web design right after graduating from WLU in 2007. She worked at Shirts ‘N More in Wheeling, W.Va. and then moved to Columbus for year. “I thought that big city was all I needed to fulfill myself as an artist. It takes more than that,” said Lambert.

Lambert returned to Wheeling and started teaching typography at WLU in spring 2013; in the meantime, she was hired by a communication firm Charles Ryan Associates.

“Working at West Liberty I realized that I actually liked teaching. So I applied to Boston University to get my graduate degree. Then I was notified that I was on a waiting list. It was almost the end of my teaching semester at West Liberty, and I was planning to move to Richmond, Va. to start my new job. Then I got accepted to my graduate program. It was great, but I was in real conflict with myself,” said Lambert. “I decided to take a risk, reject the job offer, move to the city where I didn’t know anybody and just concentrate on creating art for two years. I’m glad I made that decision.”

Lambert joined Meta Lab at Harvard right after getting her Master’s degree. There Lambert works with creative people from various disciplines. “I think freedom to create and a team that understands you are two things that really matter,” Lambert said.

While in WLU, Lambert had the unenviable job of selecting winners of the MADfest among dozens of entries. “It was very exciting, but it was really difficult too because there was such a wide range of different types of work,” said Lambert.

“I was at the MAD before as a guest speaker. It’s super cool to be back, and I think it’s a good opportunity for students to show their work,” Lambert said.

Lambert has a piece of advice for every student who is unsure about the future, “Just be yourself!”  Coming from a person with such rich experience this advice just has to work. 

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