AIGA’s Emerging Professional Workshop

“An idea is formed in our head, comes from the heart, and is crafted through our hand. We are designers. Each of us can make a difference, and together we can do great things. This is a call to action.” – AIGA

February 23rd, I attended the Emerging Professional Workshop put on by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). My friend and fellow artist, Lindsay Ancel, went with me. There, we listened to a panel discussion from some of Connecticut’s leading creative minds:

  • Kendra Amos, Account Manager at The Creative Group
  • Peter Sena, Founder of Digital Surgeons
  • Bonnie Isaac, Creative Director at Cigna
  • Javier Romero, Owner and Creative Director of JRDG Branding Design & Communications
  • Rich Hollant, Principal and Design Director at CO:LAB

Each person brought a different viewpoint, skill set, and experience to the table. Some were more corporate, others were more grassroots. I had a chance to meet everyone on the panel, and even managed to exchange business cards with some of them. Romero’s story about using his illustration talents as a spearhead to get from a bad job situation to a good one was particularly inspirational for me, since I to prefer using Illustrator as opposed to Photoshop. Hollant’s dedication to community and social justice really drew me in, since I work for an intercultural center and women’s center where we raise awareness within the campus community about a variety of topics like: sex, gender-based violence, racial discrimination, homophobia, poverty, body image, etc. Sena’s work was intense and highly digital, with much experience and big clients under his belt like promotional material for Bioshock Infinite, Gears of War, Crossfit, and much more. Amos and Isaac gave great insights on how more corporate settings seems to run and be changing, with Amos being a liason between designers and clients versus Isaac who is part of a team under one client organization.

The biggest topic of the day was how to contact employers when looking for a job after graduation out in the big bad scary world. This was a heated discussion, with some panel members being on opposite ends of the debate. Sena approached it from a very fast-paced and new way. He recommended using websites like dribbble, LinkedIn, and Pinterest as a way to get myself out there. His most interesting suggestion was to use Twitter and tweet to employers with links to my online portfolio or other things. Sena said a method like that really gets his attention, but Hollant disagreed saying that he would never pay attention to tweets; he would much rather have a face to face interaction, welcoming designers to swing by his offices and set up a meeting. He then went on to say he often doesn’t even look at portfolios before hiring someone, because he is more concerned with the ideas, the dedication, and the passion of the person than their skill sets. I don’t know how I felt about this. On one hand, I understand that enthusiasm for the job and bold ideas are important, but on the other hand I feel like an employer shouldn’t ignore a person’s portfolio. They should see what the designer has done, see the styles that they can create, and get a sense of where the designer can go.

The rest of the event consisted of a portfolio review. We only had 10 minutes with a professional, and it was rather nerve-racking. I brought in my Itoya Profolio full of different posters I made at the Women’s Center for their events. It was greeted with many critiques, mostly about my typographical hierarchy, organization, and resume design. So for the next few weeks, in my Digital Portfolio Preparation class, I’ll be revising some of my work and figuring out what should stay and what should go because eventually we will be printing Blurb books. I will also be posting thumbnails on this website, so don’t fret if you can’t see the hard copy book. As for my resume, I was told to cut down on some of my info while contradictorily being told to add a few sentences that explain some of the info. I’ll take another look and see what I can do, but I’ll take some of these critiques with a grain of salt.

What I certainly will be doing is looking into the sites that Sena suggested, continue working on my portfolio, contact some of the panel members that I met, and keeping an up-to-date blog as best as I can.

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