Art hidden in plain sight

Local artist has spent almost 20 years designing art for busses, trains and billboards for St. Louis area nonprofits and businesses

By Charlotte Beard

The independent work of Elaine Annette Young, a graphic designer and web developer, has filtrated St. Louis businesses, nonprofits and the community at large for almost 20 years.

Among her clients has been Bi-State Development Agency – Metro Bus and Transit System, MODOT, The Salvation Army, Mathews-Dickey Boys & Girls Club, and Better Family Life—just to name a few.

Young began providing graphic design services for Metro when she was invited to apply to their Request for Proposal (RFP) as one of their vendors. Her projects for the organization began with designing their newsletter, signage, and then the train and buses. Young was responsible for the pink Komen Race for the Cure design on buses that first traveled around town a few years ago. She’s provided design services several years for Metro and periodically continues for their various needs. MODOT, another transportation sector client, continues to be one of Young’s clients since her design of their 2015 annual report.

The St. Louis native moved beyond using her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Washington University for Corporate America when she formed the graphic design firm Hopscotch Communications. She gave her graphic design company the name of Hopscotch because it is the game of challenge.

“You [have] to be creative to jump in and out of the square,” Young said

Nonprofits have heavily used Young’s work for their initiatives. For approximately 2.5 years, she was Grace Hill’s only independent designer. In addition to her continued services for the social-service provider, she’s been Better Family Life and Mathews-Dickey Boys & Girls Club’s “go-to” for design needs on a regular basis for the past 30 years.

Among her design work on a massive level besides buses and trains, have been billboards for clients such as Mathews-Dickey, The Salvation Army and others. Some of these projects have included her collaboration with Ddc Advertising & Public Relations located in Clayton. Clarence Jackson, the owner of Ddc, often hires her to do billboard designs.

Young’s work has also been used in the political and educational sector. Mike McMillan, former 19th ward alderman, hired her to create award designs for The Young Democrats of St. Louis years ago. These collage-design awards went to various politicians and corporate people.

“I was doing 20 [collages] at a time. I did the same for Better Family Life when they hired me to do their Black Dance USA celebration awards,” she said

Her award designs – her art – are in the offices of various politicians as a result. She still does the award designs for St. Louis University’s Black Alumni Association, which consists of a framed African design collage given every spring for their award’s ceremony.

Though Young said her entrepreneurial mindset began in high school when she designed T-shirts and other items for profit from students, she began building her clientele for Hopscotch Communications while she was still working for Maritz. She served as an art director there for almost 23 years after her previous creative jobs for Swank Motion Pictures and the U.S. Government’s Art Department.

“I had to sit in on photo shoots and meet with clients and the account managers as a creative consultant on the project. I had to do the pricing for the job and help create a budget,” Young shared. She worked with a production manager and was involved from the design conception to production for clients such as Marriot Hotels, Avon, Motel 6, AT&T, Bell South, and Avaya.

“Maritz [is] a motivational company so we were working on motivational programs. Marriott [was] about the leadership [for its hotel chain]. The program we were designing was a rewards-type program for them with packaging and logo [items]. [Their leadership] travelled a lot so we also put together the [designs for the] travel packages,” Young said.

In 2004, Maritz downsized and the freelance work the single mother of two boys had begun building became her full-time business.

“I really wanted to leave my job,” Young stated. “But I really didn’t have a solid plan and I always had different fears…‘what if I don’t survive.’ But once I was let go I had no choice but to survive.”

Outside of Young’s graphic design work she has a great focus on mentoring art students.

“What I proposed to do when I really stopped working full time with my clients, [was to] do more mentoring so that I could pass on a legacy to help students stay in there because it’s a very tough and competitive industry. If students don’t have the right tools a lot of them change their major. They don’t think they can really make a living doing graphic design, but they can.”

In 1988, Young and Charles Walker, a St. Louis Artist who has now passed, created African American Designers in Saint Louis (AADIS), a nonprofit to mentor minorities who might not get the exposure needed to thrive in the art industry without assistance. Under the original formation, AADIS received grants to do exhibitions and they taught Adobe, Photoshop and Illustrator in various churches that were equipped with computer labs. Currently, Young is mentoring a very small number of students under her program called “Under My Wings.” She gives the students graphic design projects and provide them advice on their art portfolio.

Young, who has graphic design clients throughout the U.S., shared that she feels her design work for Mathews-Dickey has made the most impact in the community among all her projects.

“It’s a community-based organization and the projects I work on are always promotional for activities that educate, motivate and inspire young people to get involved. So, the materials I create include the youth and sometimes testimonials. I’ve always enjoyed working on Mathews-Dickey projects.”

For Elaine A. Young’s portfolio or for other details visit:

CUTLINE: Submitted photos

Cover-Artist1 The independent work of Elaine Annette Young, a graphic designer and web developer, has been used by Bi-State Development Agency – Metro Bus and Transit System, MODOT, The Salvation Army, Mathews-Dickey Boys & Girls Club, and Better Family Life—just to name a few.

Cover-Artist2 An example of Elaine Annette Young’s work that appeared on Metro busses in 2013.

Cover-Artist3 Elaine Annette Young also does work in the fine arts as exhibited by this piece.