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Margo Chase is one of the most influential graphic designers of our time. Over the past 20 years, Margo's highly expressive work has been seen in movie posters for Bram Stoker's Dracula; on album covers for top performers like Cher, Madonna, and Prince; and in ads for brands such as Starbucks, Target, and Procter & Gamble. With a background in biology, Margo migrated to the world of graphic design, where she brought a unique, organic quality to logos, lettering, and identity design. Never one to live life passively, Margo has developed a love for competitive aerobatic flying in her own high-performance plane. This installment of Creative Inspirations takes viewers inside the studio, portfolio, and adrenaline-pumped lifestyle of this inspired and inspiring designer.
(Music Playing) Margo Chase: This is my airplane, it's an Extra 300. It's an aerobatic airplane. My father is a pilot. He started flying, probably, when I was in high school, I think. He started flying sailplanes. And I loved it! I loved the experience of being in the air, of being able to see what's on the ground.
The experience of flying, it's just, I mean, visually amazing and exciting. I was talking to my father, and I said, I'm kind of like, don't know what to do next with my flying. And he said, well you should go to Santa Paula and take this thing called emergency maneuvers training. I took that a couple of years ago. It's really fun, teaches to you how to recover from spins and unusual attitudes, and it's just a really good safety course to take. They give you ground school first and they tell you all the stuff that you're going to go out there and do. Then you get in the airplane and you do it. They say, okay, here, do it, put the airplane in a spin, and you do it.
And I mean, I was just terrified! But I did all the stuff you're supposed to do, and then I did all the recovery things and it worked. It was like amazing! And then we did it again and it worked the second time. Pretty soon I was like, yeah! This is great! It was like the most empowering feeling, because here's this thing you're terrified of, and you suddenly realize, wow! This isn't that scary. This is it, this is that all that happens, I can do this. The competition process has really been interesting, because it's in someways really different than the design processes.
In someways, it's kind of similar, like some of the parallels are the sort of idea of perfection that you're striving for. I mean, in terms of competition aerobatics, your flying figures for judges on the ground, who are looking to make sure that everything that you do with the airplane is as perfect as possible. So when you fly horizontally, it should be exactly level. When you fly vertically, the attitude of the airplane needs to be exactly vertical. When you fly a loop, it needs to be perfectly round. All of those things are -- they're subjective judgments made by experts on the ground.
But that's your goal as a pilot, is to try to make these things that are like drawing in the sky. It's like doing calligraphy with your airplane, but it's trying to create these perfect shapes. I love that! I love the idea that there is this goal of perfection that I'm striving for, because it keeps the challenge there, since perfection is something you can really never achieve. And even people who practice this stuff for years and years and years, really rarely achieve a ten in performance, which is the best you can do. Competition is really a performance and you have this 1000 meter square box in the sky that you fly in during a competition, and you have the time from when you enter the box to when you leave it to do that thing perfectly, that sequence perfectly.
And that's it. I mean, they're on the ground waiting, you enter, if you screw up, you screw up, you don't get to go back and do it again. So you spend as much time as you possibly can practicing first so that when you do that thing, it goes well. But it's really different than design. In design you get a chance to kind of think something through, and then you get to try stuff, and then you get to tweak on it, then you get to edit it some more, then talk to the clients and then you get to revise it, and then like pretty soon, you hope it's ready and it's done. But there has been all this sort of tweaking and refinement that happens in a very, sort of, relatively calm environment compared to having to fly.
This is really a performance, I mean, it really is, it's like you're on, you do it, and then you're done, and that was it. It's basically a non-gendered sport, like women and men fly against each other, there's not a women's team and a men's team. So currently, our national champion is a woman and our second place national champion is a woman and our third place national champion is a woman, which is awesome! We've had Patty Wagstaff who's famous, who was national champion three times three years in a row. So it's really inspiring to me to do something like that where we're not, sort of, ghettoized in a separate category, because we're girls.
If I can fly as well or better than a man, I'm going to win, which is great for me. I mean, it's a challenge. One of the fabulous things about doing this kind of thing is, that it's, it is a little scary and kind of pushing yourself to do something that you're not sure you know how to do. I kind of have that feeling, every time I go to practice something I haven't done before, it's like, I get butterflies in my stomach, and I'm like, I'm not sure what the airplane is actually going to do when I try something and -- it makes me nervous in kind of a good way, like I can't -- I really like that! I think, it really helps my work, like I really feel like I get back from a weekend of having flown and I go to work on Monday and I'm like, not only just charged up, because I love flying and it inspires me, but I also think I'm learning some perspective and some sort of, I don't know, courage about just trying things in my design business that maybe I wouldn't have tried before.
I mean, I've always, kind of, believed that jumping into things that you're not sure you can do is sort of a good philosophy, in general, for all things in your life. I'm not a very particularly cautious person that way, I think. I think, that's helped me over the years to be both a better designer, and I'm hoping, a better pilot.
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