Tearing it up

See what drives Malerie Reitzler in her artistic pursuits

Malerie Reitzler’s passion for art and design was instilled by her grandparents and evident from a young age. Creative copywriter Jeff Montgomery sat down with Malerie to learn about her lifelong interest in art—and how she’ll apply her craft in her new role.


Jeff: First thing’s first. Congratulations on your new gig.


Malerie: Thanks so much. It’s exciting to be here.


Can you start by telling me about your role at McCullough Creative. What will you be working on?


Well, my title here is 3D/Exhibit Designer. So I will be working on initial concepts and illustrations for displays and exhibits and bringing those ideas to life.


That’s great. What led you here? Anything that jumped out about McCullough and piqued your interest in working here?


I have always had my eye on McCullough. I loved the work that came out of here and I am super excited this kind of work can be done in Dubuque. It is wonderful to be close to home, close to family, and pursuing this level of creative collaboration. I feel like this is where I need to be.



Malerie with her parents and two younger sisters
Malerie with her parents and two younger sisters

Where did you grow up? And how has that shaped your life and perspective?


I grew up in Farley, Iowa, just a couple miles from the Field of Dreams, and I went to Beckman Catholic High School in Dyersville. I think being in a small town and going to a small school helped make me well-rounded because I got to try a little bit of everything. I moved to Ames for college, where I went to Iowa State and got a degree in industrial design.


When did you know you wanted to pursue something like this? When did that passion for art first surface?


I realized it early on. My nana did a lot of artwork—she was an art teacher most of her career, and I was getting art lessons from her from a young age. On the other side of the family, my grandpa was a fantastic woodworker. He taught me those hands-on skills—how to take a sketch and turn it into a product. My grandparents played a big role in my creative passions. My parents are also super creative. Growing up around a creative family made me want to explore different areas of art and engineering and design. I’ve always been eager to learn more.



An old sketch created by Malerie during her time at Iowa State — notably, not torn in half.
An old sketch created by Malerie during her time at Iowa State — notably, not torn in half.

Any lessons that stand out?


Yeah, there is one in particular. I remember in my first day of design, my professor looked at a sketch of mine and tore it in half. (Laughs) I was a bit shocked. My jaw hit the floor. But he was making a point about not being too connected to your initial concept, about always keeping the client and the end user in mind, about being efficient and effective and being able to pivot.


Yikes. Good lesson! Interesting approach. I don’t think there is anyone here who would tear up your work. At least not that I know of. But there’s definitely a lot of knowledge and guidance to go around.


(Laughs) I don’t think so. It’s been great here, seeing the skill set that everyone has and knowing that you have other creatives on your side. It really takes the fear away from jumping on these big projects. And I love the way that McCullough really dives into projects—the way people think about how the user experiences spaces and how you can tell a story in a space. It’s something really awesome about the company and something that drew me here.


When you’re not at work, what keeps you busy?


I love playing with puzzles and doing Sudoku books … being a problem solver is just fun for me, which it part of what brought me into design. I like the idea of solving problems and figuring out what needs to be done for a client. I’m also into cooking. I like experimenting with all different kinds of recipes. And I really enjoy sports. I play soccer and volleyball, and I also coach volleyball.



Malerie continues to play and coach volleyball
Malerie continues to play and coach volleyball

A sports fan who grew up a couple miles from the Field of Dreams. Seems like a nice fit!


It is! I actually worked at the Field of Dreams too. I spent my summers out there working in the gift shop. It’s been pretty cool over the past couple years to see Major League Baseball come there and watch the whole thing grow.


If you build it, they will come. Sounds like something that could apply to designs and exhibits, eh?


(Laughing) Exactly.