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Starry dreams launched Petaluma designer’s career

What is your favorite thing about living in Petaluma?

“I would have to say the people and the surrounding area. It’s just so beautiful here, unlike anything. The rolling hills, the many hiking trails, the accessibility to wineries, great food. That was something I missed in New York City. I’m grateful to have found that here in Petaluma.”

At some point in people’s lives, they often discover that one dream, that one thing they know they are meant to do in life. For Alexandra “Lexy” Rubin, when she was just a young child drawing with crayons, art became the center of that dream. Though she did not have professional art training growing up, Lexy’s teachers frequently told her she had a gift.

In high school she decided she would take that gift and turn it into something real.

“During that period of life, you’re trying to figure out who you are and what do you want to do with your life, and I knew I wanted to get into art,” Lexy says. “At first I was thinking I wanted to get into painting, but I knew it would be hard to try and make a career out of that.”

That’s when Lexy discovered graphic design.

“You can incorporate illustration into graphic design and you can use photography and all sorts of things,” she says. “I just thought, wow! That’s so exciting.”

Once she knew what path to take, Lexy knew exactly where she wanted to take it – Rhode Island School of Design, which Lexy describes as the “Harvard of art schools.”

To her dismay, the school ended up rejecting her portfolio, so instead she found herself at a Florida state school. But for only six months. Shortly after beginning, Lexy met a professor who encouraged Lexy to step out of her usual artistic box, showing ways to make her portfolio stronger.

“I used to be a perfectionist, and she helped me get a feel for what I was drawing and start to get loose,” Lexy said. “At first it was really uncomfortable and weird, and then I realized that it unleashed this whole new world to me.”

Thus encouraged, she decided to apply to RISD once again, and finally got the congratulatory letter she was hoping for.

“I was surprised that they picked me, because I didn’t know I was talented as an artist yet,” Lexy admits, allowing that her initial rejection had sparked some self-doubt. “I was intimidated and nervous because I knew that I was with the best of the best artists.”

Finally at the school of her dreams, Lexy found herself in search of an interesting and engaging internship program to enroll in as part of her major. Though the sky was definitely the limit, there was no way Lexy could know that she would soon become the first-ever graphic design major to internship for NASA, at the Kennedy Space Center.

There, she had the opportunity to redesign VIP banquet invitations that NASA sends out for space shuttle launches, invitations sent out to well-known celebrities, former astronauts and other high-profile figures. That project completed, Lexy’s supervisors at NASA caught an even better glimpse of her design abilities, and quickly gave her more marketing and advertising work.

Lexy’s work at NASA soon opened the door to other graphic design students, many of whom have since contacted her to thank her for leading the way to such a stellar opportunity.

“It’s so heart-warming for me and makes me so happy to have that experience,” Lexy says.

After graduating, Lexy lived in New York City for a while, but soon realized that she was missing a small-town, country feel. That is when she decided to make the big move to the Bay Area. Now living with her husband as a soon-to-be mother, Lexy runs her own graphic design firm known as Elu Creative, where she focuses on branding and promotions for Sonoma County businesses.

What is your favorite thing about living in Petaluma?

“I would have to say the people and the surrounding area. It’s just so beautiful here, unlike anything. The rolling hills, the many hiking trails, the accessibility to wineries, great food. That was something I missed in New York City. I’m grateful to have found that here in Petaluma.”

With Elu Creative, she concentrates on learning the values and personalities of businesses and their audiences, and collaborating with local illustrators, photographers and web developers to fully display those values through logos, copywriting and other branding techniques.

Her ultimate dream is to have a design studio in Sonoma County with a team of designers and production artists, working together to shape the county and help stimulate the growth of local businesses. She also hopes to help other designers and artists grow into their own success stories.

“I want to do things differently and do it right, with my heart,” she said.

As for other young people who hope to make something of their dreams, Lexy has one piece of advice.

“Always go with your gut, no matter what you’re doing. Do what you think is right. If you follow your heart, it’ll never leave you astray.”

(To learn more about Lexy and Elu Creative, visit her web site at elucreative.com)