Local Women: Carrie Louise Schaeffer

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Carrie Louise Schaeffer, owner and senior designer of Outer Graphics in East Lansing, sees art everywhere. It was a lesson she learned from her grandmother when she was a young child living in Curtis — near Newberry, Mich. — and it’s a vision that’s not wavered since then. Born in Ohio, Schaeffer and her parents moved to the Upper Peninsula when she was 6 years old. Wherever she went with her grandmother, whether it was a doctor’s waiting room or a grocery store, her grandmother would tell Schaeffer, “Look around. Art is everywhere!” Her grandmother, Louise Strawe, should know. Strawe was a well-known artist in the region. She worked in ceramics, oils, acrylic, textiles and other art media. With her grandmother’s encouragement, Schaeffer applied for, and received, a scholarship to study at Michigan State University where she earned her bachelors degree in fine arts and graphic design. Today, Schaeffer owns a graphic design firm, Outer Graphics, which she founded in 1998. Her studio is located across the street from MSU campus on Grand River and Abbot Road. Outer Graphics provides custom artwork for many clients in the greater Lansing and East Lansing area. From brochures to trade show signs, Outer Graphics has helped its customers illustrate their corporate identities by producing logos and design books, developing media packages, building custom websites and creating everything “from A to Z in terms of desktop publishing,” she said. “We can custom design whatever the client wants.” The name Outer Graphics comes from the process of creating art. “Art is a façade,” explained Schaeffer. “You start from the outside in. The outside is your first impression and then you go beyond. It was a good name because it represents the concept to completion process — you always start on the outside.” Schaeffer explained the development of the name. “The name of Outer Graphics was developed by a local, creative team composed of architects, artists and illustrators in 1998. The Latin word “outré” means beyond. Outer Graphics takes a concept beyond your expectations. “I never wavered from my vision,” she said. “For 11 years steady, I’ve been at my first and only location.” In 2001, Schaeffer received the Natural Resources Conservation Service Woman- Owned Business Contractor of the Year. Outer Graphics has also earned more than 40 “Gallery of Superb Printing Awards” for various desktop publishing/media pieces. It’s nice to get awards and to be recognized in the community for her talent. But for Schaeffer, the work is its own reward. “I have something tangible by the end of each day,” she said. “I feel fortunate and I can’t wait to start each day.” Besides her art skills, Schaeffer draws on her people skills for success. “I’m a good listener … I’m fully engaged so I can give them exactly what they want. I have a passion for my work.”
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Ann Cool

Ann Cool, MPS, is a freelance writer who lives in Mason with her husband Bob.

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