Glitter, Glam & the Glossy

August 15, 2014

By Susan Andrews

Tara Molloy-Aksar ’97 spends her workdays in the 46-floor Hearst Tower — the triangular-based steel and glass skyscraper at left — home to Hearst Corporation, one of the country’s largest media companies. Photo by Martin St. Amant.

Our careers are immersed in a language all their own. Among the words that inhabit the professional life of advertising major Tara Molloy-Aksar ’97 are accessory, haute couture, contemporary, handmade, flawless and vintage

She describes herself on Twitter and Pinterest as a “graphic designer + daydreamer extraordinaire — inspired by vintage travel posters, frivolousness, film, anything Parisienne.” 

She loves fashion and can indulge in her favorite pastime as an obsessive consumer in her real-life job as an associate art director for ELLE. As a lead creative for ELLE Productions, an in-house design studio that serves both the ELLE brand and its advertisers, she is involved in everything from “creative concepting” and design to producing and managing. “One day, I might be art directing a photo shoot for an advertorial and the next sourcing materials and meeting with vendors for a printed piece.”

As an associate art director for ELLE, Molloy-Aksar helps define the creative direction for many of the company’s projects. Photo by Michael Paras.

Molloy-Aksar enjoys it all and works diligently to perfect her craft. “My job allows me to be creative and to build on my skills,” she explained. “Time gets away from me, and I can spend hours at the beginning of a project developing an aesthetic — choosing the typography, structure, photography, and color palette that best visually communicates.” 

Ever vigilant of current visual trends in fashion, Molloy-Aksar also is a fan of the Mad Men television show, which is both inspirational and entertaining. “I love the 1960s fashion scene and vintage, including the colors and patterns.”

Calling Nanuet, New York, her hometown, Molloy-Aksar was drawn to Bradley’s size, strong communication program, hometown feel and welcoming community. “I wanted a new experience — to live somewhere different than where I grew up,” she said. She attended Bradley when new technology adorned the “dorms of the future,” feeling fortunate to have both a computer and a printer in her room.

She has fond recollections of being at Bradley that include the Gamma Phi Beta sorority. Also memorable to her are meeting Oprah at her show in Chicago and taking field trips to local television affiliates through the on-campus organization Bradley Broadcasters headed by Dr. Paul Gullifor, Henry Means Pindell Endowed Chair of the Department of Communication.

More pivotal to her future career was the exposure to a Mac computer and desktop publishing in Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts facilities: “This was critical and invaluable during my senior year.” Then, she learned to work on one graphic design program, and now, she counts InDesign, Photoshop, Flash, and After Effects among her software proficiency. 

Stunningly designed advertorials by Molloy-Aksar grace the pages of ELLE magazine.

Not only have the tools of her trade changed, but advertising has transformed in a colossal fashion. “I have the opportunity to visually shape marketing programs across all media,” she noted. “It’s an exciting time to work in design as there are constantly new applications. The entirety of a marketing program might include a print execution, a behind-the-scenes video, imagery for social media, enhanced ads for the iPad, event collateral, and digital units for mobile and Web.”

You might actually not know her work if you saw it. “It’s a fine line between advertorials and editorials,” she said. She has worked on programs for advertisers ranging from mass brands such as Downy and Olay to fashion heavyweights such as Dior and Bergdorf Goodman.

Fashion is attractive to many young people today. “The Devil Wore Prada was a highly entertaining movie, but most people in the fashion industry are approachable, fun, and passionate about what they do,” she said. Prior to ELLE, she worked for Vogue and came face to face with fashion icon Anna Wintour on an elevator. “She is larger than life, sartorially stunning and polished to perfection.” 

For those interested in pursuing a career in the fashion industry, she offers her road to the runway. “I did not allow money to be my sole driver but rather sought the best experiences available to guide my future,” she said. “You will always find like-minded collaborators who relish innovation and excellence as they constantly hone their craft.”

Today, she applies her strong organizational skills that have served her well throughout her life as she juggles career demands with quality time spent with her husband, Oz, and their 14-month-old son, Ronan.