As a student, Katie Quinlan (’22) studied advertising with a concentration in art direction and was a member of MSU’s softball team. Today, the graphic design coordinator with the Detroit Lions reflects on combining her love of sports and arts into her career.
Story adapted from an article originally shared on MSU Today.
From a Spartan to a Lion
Katie Quinlan’s childhood dream came true when her passion for softball manifested into a college career. She joined Michigan State University’s softball team as a first-year student and worked on deepening her design skills away from the pitch.
“It’s not every day that you find a student-athlete pursuing an art major,” Quinlan said. “I combined my passions for sports and my artistic talents to succeed on and off the playing field.”
Outside of classes in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations, Quinlan also got a job working for MSU’s athletic department where her experience as a student designer pushed her creative ability and confidence in the sports design industry.
Quinlan even got to design her own senior softball poster, which she recalls as one of her proudest moments at MSU.
“During my senior year, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we weren’t going to have any posters made for the year,” she said. “So I took the initiative to design the posters, so each of my teammates and I had something memorable for our senior days.”
Quinlan fondly recalls a particular course that stood out and helped set her on a path to success: Ross Chowles’ portfolio class.
“He was very inspirational in helping me with the creative direction of building a solid portfolio of work,” she said. “The impact that this course had on my career made me a more aware candidate for the industry I pursued.”
Her efforts paid off: Quinlan started working for the Detroit Lions during the 2022 season as a graphic design intern, which then led to joining their in-house creative team.
Now, she’s in her first year working full-time in the NFL — and Quinlan’s home team are playing for the NFC Championship.
She said it's been fulfilling and rewarding to see Lions fans enjoying the designs she creates — whether engaging with her team’s content on social media or holding game day posters.
“This season is an extremely exciting opportunity for the city of Detroit. I’m surrounded by excellent mentors and positive leaders that have fostered a family like culture, where we feel like we are a Detroit Lion and the work we do makes an impact. The Detroit Lions organization embodies true grit, and loyalty to their city and fans,” said Quinlan.