Flashback to the early 2000s: Most young students were just learning how to use the Internet, while middle-schooler Sarai Bartels was coding her own websites. Now, some 15 years later, Bartels is the art director and manager of the creative department at Westchester’s powerhouse public-relations agency, Thompson & Bender. “Because we’re a small agency, we all have to wear a lot of hats,” says Bartels of her typical day, which can include creating websites using computer-programming languages she taught herself, designing brochures and advertisements for local organizations, and working closely with designers, photographers, and videographers on a wide range of projects. Bartels has helped the agency launch more than 20 websites for some of the county’s biggest establishments and brought previously outsourced web development in-house, helping to increase total revenue for Thompson & Bender. Some of her creative projects include the “Generation Yonkers” campaign, Iona Preparatory School and Pace University brochures, and web design for the Archdiocese of New York. “By striving for a caliber of creative excellence that I’ve set for myself, I am constantly pushing myself to become a better designer and to continue learning,” Bartels says.
• Bartels didn’t decide to pursue graphic design until she was accepted into college. She found her first design internship on Craigslist, an apprenticeship for Ellen Shapiro, owner of Visual Language design firm, based in Westchester.
• Bartels’ creativity never sleeps. At 3:00 a.m., if an idea for a project comes to mind, she will get up out of bed to write it down so that she can work on it first thing in the morning.
• Her favorite aspect of her role as creative director? Helping clients reach their goals through effective design and marketing strategies.
• As if she didn’t have enough on her plate, Bartels hopes to learn photography. She’d love to get behind a camera lens and learn how to capture her own creative vision.