North Carolina native Lydia Turbeville graduated from The South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University in 2016. She earned a BA in art with a concentration in painting and drawing, as well as a minor in art history. While she wasn’t sure exactly where her career path would lead, there were a few things she did know: she loves creating with all sorts of mediums, she enjoys being a studio artist but doesn’t want to be that exclusively and she wants to teach—but further down the road.
Within the year, the manager of the Anthropologie store in Greenville, South Carolina, reached out to her about a Display Experience Lead position; an AU professor knew the store manager and had recommended Turbeville for the job. After a simultaneously exciting and nerve-racking interview process that involved creating a diorama with $10 worth of materials, she landed the job in May 2017.
The position, which is unique for a large retail corporation, challenges her to create window and in-store displays that reflect not only Anthropologie’s aesthetic but also focus on the handmade and the artist’s touch. She draws on the things she learned at AU daily in the on-site workshop where she designs and executes projects that involve sketching, painting, cloth dying and even carpentry.
“There was a strong emphasis on craftsmanship and basic techniques like color mixing and using X-Acto knives,” Turbeville said. “And thanks to the rigor of the AU art program, I’m also very comfortable working in a studio, balancing priorities and meeting deadlines.”
Every season, she’s tasked with a theme from Anthropologie corporate. Sometimes there’s a prototype to follow; other times she has more freedom to develop her own concepts, which is a challenge she embraces.
“AU professors taught me how to translate big ideas and concepts into physical work,” she said.
Associate Professor of Art Michael Marks isn’t surprised Turbeville is excelling in the position.
“Lydia was a fantastic student—one who went above and beyond in everything she did. She also understands the studio is a place where artists are solving problems, asking questions and learning how to improve,” he said.
AU’s art and design program encourages students to think creatively andcritically. Marks explains that the classes stress traditional elements of art and principles of design while folding in conceptual solutions as well. He also strives to make his classes relevant to contemporary topics and issues.
“I urge my students to be deliberate in their usage of materials and consider that they have a history and convey meaning that isn’t accidental,” he said.
For Turbeville, it wasn’t just these facets that made her education so enriching.
“The professors are all practicing artists who are connected to the larger arts community outside of the university,” she said. This helped her gain a wider view of how art fits into society and what being a working artist looks like.
She also draws regularly on the art history knowledge she gained at school as she develops displays, most recently weaving Art Deco elements into a design, and looks forward to learning more about art history and artifacts. She discovered the beauty of archaeology several years ago on a two-week trip to Italy organized by AU faculty with contacts there.
“We went to Pompeii and got to see them digging—they’re still finding things at the site. It’s so fascinating,” she said. Her future plans involve going to graduate school to study archaeology and do field work.
“I love learning about the souls of cultures through their art,” she said.
Now at Anthropologie, Turbeville learns from the constant changes and challenges the job involves.
“It’s the most intense work I’ve ever done.”