Meet the Team Series: Kara Mongell, Senior Graphic Designer

At Scratch, we recently revived our Meet the Team blog series to showcase our dynamic culture and highlight the incredible things our team members do, both inside and outside the office.

We sat down with Kara Mongell, Senior Graphic Designer and one of Scratch’s most tenured employees, to learn more about the path that led them to a career in design, how they’ve seen our agency evolve, and more.


What led you to a career in design?

I always like to say I landed on this career path accidentally; I went to school for animation and worked for a year as a production assistant/animator. After that job contract ended, I needed to figure out what to do next. I knew I didn’t want to leave Boston but there were not a lot of production jobs in this area, so I applied for illustration, video editing and design jobs—anything I could find. I ended up in design after interning as an in-house designer at NuoDB’s marketing department and eventually found my way to Scratch. I had very little traditional design experience, so you can definitely say I learned on the job. I’m excited by this career path and all that it has to offer, even if it wasn’t the original plan.


In your opinion, why is design essential to marketing?

Marketing is a language that needs a visual component to reach its intended audience. You can do some marketing without design, but that would be very technical. Design opens it up to many more opportunities and a chance to appear on more platforms and to connect with your audience on a more meaningful level.

As someone who has been at Scratch for over four years, what is a key takeaway you’ve learned during your time here that will stay with you forever? 

Ask questions, then ask more questions.


How has the agency changed during your time here?

During my first year at Scratch I mostly worked with the marketing team and didn’t have a lot of exposure to the PR team. Over the years, the dynamic of the agency has changed a lot—we have significantly expanded the PR, content, and programming teams and projects, so it’s much more of an integrated agency now, as opposed to predominantly marketing-focused. 


What’s something you unexpectedly learned on the job?

Honestly, I didn’t even think I’d last one year at Scratch, since I didn’t have much traditional design experience which I eventually learned isn’t always necessary. When I first joined, our design team was only two people! It was a really small team so we didn’t have our own processes in place yet; we were mainly supporting the marketing team at the time by designing whitepapers, brochures, PowerPoints (SO many PowerPoints). Since then, Scratch has gotten many more clients specifically for branding and website design, so we’re continuously ramping that practice up.

I’m creative but I’m also a logical thinker, so the UX aspect of web design is really exciting to me. You have to logically think through the user experience and answer the question of, what’s the best way to visually show this information in an interesting way and to get the point across?  Web design is definitely something I’ve learned a lot about and I find it really exciting since it is continuously evolving.


What’s your favorite thing about working at Scratch?

This is a bit cheesy, but definitely the people and the types of clients we get to work with. Being at Scratch brought me out of my shell when I first started because of all the great people here. And I absolutely love getting chances to learn about all the cool new products and systems that our clients are developing!


If you were able to give one piece of advice to your younger professional self, what would it be?

It’ll be hard, but you don’t have to figure everything out right away.


When you’re not co-piloting at Scratch, what are you doing?

Exploring different parts of Boston and hiking mountains are a couple of my favorite ways to get away from the screen. I also love (and this will come to no surprise to some of the Scratch team) playing a lot of Dungeons & Dragons with my friends. 


What is your most treasured possession?

I have a little box that contains all my best memories from the first couple adventures I had away from home on my own: my trip to Japan in high school and my study abroad program in Italy during college. Here’s a peek inside:

From Japan, I got an O-mikuji which is a piece of fortune written on paper from the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo, the Sensō-ji. I had gotten “good fortune” which meant a lot to me at a time when I felt I had no place in the world.

From Italy, I saved a bottle of black sand from my trip to Stromboli, a small volcanic island off the coast of Sicily. It was a poorly planned trip during the off-season because my friend and I found the cutest B&B and booked it without a thought. It ended up being one of the best trips with a smoking volcano behind our rooftop, countless stars, and no one else on the island, save for some locals.

Who is your hero?

Good question. I don’t really have a “hero” or someone I look up to as my guiding star, aside from some people I just appreciate. Growing up, I was a little obsessed with Georgia O’Keefe as a budding artist. No real reason except for that she was the first woman artist I learned about and I loved the juxtaposition of the skulls and flowers in her work.

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