January 5, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Basic Graphic Design Job Interview

Don’t go into an interview without knowing your audience. What type of work does the agency specialize in? What type of clients do they have? Is the work environment casual or professional?  Is their work traditional, contemporary or postmodern? If possible ask them what they like to see in a portfolio.  If you are interviewing at a trendy postmodern agency you may want to leave out some of your more conservative work. In the end know your audience and adjust your portfolio accordingly. So what exactly do you put in your portfolio?

I recommend -

  • 10-15 pieces
  • use some sort of organizational system with a spine (such as a portfolio with a built in spine or a book)
  •  limit display to no larger than 11″x17″ in size (makes is easier to manage and transport)
  • display work in proper format (web designers will want to see work on screen and print designers want to see print)
  • show your resume first before showing your work
  • have a leave behind ready such as a business card

Remember interviews work both ways. You should be interviewing them as they are interviewing you. Ask lots of questions and make sure you’ll fit well with the other staff.

January 5, 2017Comments are off for this post.

National Design Shows

As many graphic designers, I occasionally enter work in annuals and shows. After all it’s inexpensive self promotion, and good for a designer’s spirit to share work with an audience of piers. Recently while viewing a prominent design annual, I became concerned that much of the work today is becoming increasingly difficult to grasp. I often find myself questioning whether the designer’s true goal is to sell the concept being displayed; or to demonstrate less functional ephemera, which interests only other designers. After all, most true target audiences care more about being able to grasp an idea quickly versus deciphering a mystical, all be it unique design. In this postmodern era it’s easy to hide behind the curtains of “philosophy” and “concept” neglecting the fundamentals of true design. Being aware of ones influences is critical as long as it doesn’t cause one to neglect his or her audience. Often the most successful work is unique, yet still doesn’t alienate ones audience. This tends to be extremely important today in web design. The average user will stay on a web page for two seconds. If the designer doesn’t conform to certain standard norms users are will quickly exit the page quickly. If work doesn’t communicate a clear and unique message it has a strong likely hood of being lost in the landfall of media.

January 5, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Pursuing graphic design as a profession.

There are many types of graphic designers. Graphic designers design magazines, websites, logos, packaging and just about anything that has type on it. Designers are in essence visual communicators. They help clients communicate their message clearly and persuasively  through printed and digital media. Being a graphic design is a wonderful job, but it’s not for everyone. How do you know if you should become a graphic designer?

Do you like to brainstorm or problem solve?
How well do you handle the pressure of a deadline?
Are you detail oriented?
Do you like using computers?
Do you have strong verbal skills?

I’ve heard people say that they want to be a graphic designer so they can get paid to be creative. This maybe true but the trooth is it requires much hard work and pursuverance to be a successful graphic designer. Realize that this industry it’s a very competitive. This means that you need to really be inspired and love doing design work. How can you decide if you want to pursue graphic design? I recommend you get involved in your local graphic design community. The AIGA has social gatherings, design lectures, and other design related events in most majors cities. This will allow you to meet and talk with professional designers. The Advertising Federation is another organization that can help you meet professionals in the communication industry.

As a graphic design professor I’ve seen many students come and go. The ones who tend to be the most successful have the following common characteristics. First, the love what they do and are willing to work very hard. I know this sounds very ordinary, but in graphic design the details make a dramatic difference. A small out of place character of type or one incorrectly spelled word can kill a project. The most successful designers are willing to think and plan ahead. It’s not about getting one idea and moving forward with it. It’s more about getting many ideas, pushing through the lesser ones then choosing the one that best fits the target audience. A certain degree of focus and do whatever it takes to get the job done attitude helps.

Here is the US government occupational handbook on graphic design. It gives a good  job outlook overview of graphic design. It also includes basic salary and other information.

January 5, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Download Free Fonts

There are numerous sites that offer free fonts downloads. There are some drawbacks to using free fonts. They aren’t normally as high a quality as fonts you would buy from more well-known type foundries. Specifically, free fonts don’t usually include as many characters as paid for fonts. Often, the free font’s don’t “hint” as well as paid for fonts. This means they won’t reproduce as well if the font is made really small or large. Opentype face fonts are the best font format because they include many more characters (this is particularly helpful for using a font in multiple languages). Openface fonts are more difficult to find for free. I encourage you to seek out and experiment with free fonts, but you should also subsidize your font collect with quality paid for fonts. So without further adieu here’s the list.

1001 Free Fonts
Urban Fonts
Free Fonts – free font search engine
Simply the Best Fonts
Search Free Fonts
Font Freak
Abstract Fonts
Urban Fonts
Identifont - Helps you identify any font

Purchase Fonts

Hoefler & Frere-Jones

January 5, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Choosing a MFA Program

Grad school was one of the best experiences of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. For the creative, being able to focus solely on ones artwork for an extended period of time is extremely gratifying. Of course there’s the argument that you can learn on your own. The problem with learning on your own is that most people are just too busy to focus on learning. Grad school will help you dedicate yourself to your craft by giving you a community to help support your creative en devours.

The duration of MFA program varies from two to three years. There is a MFA program for almost any creative field of study. They are all set up slightly differently but begin with students taking classes, then end with a independent capstone project that often lasts one year. Normally, you will be assigned a thesis adviser for your capstone project. Many graduate programs are more self directed that undergrad, for examples in some programs a portion of your time is dedicated toward independent study each semester.

There are small and large graduate programs. Many of the smaller programs with fewer students are often at state universities. These programs normally offer fewer classes and students do more independent study while getting direction from an adviser you meet with weekly. In many of these programs grad students often have the opportunity to teach and they will receive a stipend. In the larger programs you’ll have have more opportunities to take a variety of different class offerings. You’ll also have a larger population of fellow grad students to share experiences with.

US News and World Reports offers a comprehensive review of top MFA programs in the United States. This is the best single source of up for learning about various MFA programs. They charge $14.95 to access the list. It has acceptance rates, costs and other helpful information that will assist you in picking what schools to apply to. http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-fine-arts-schools

When choosing a graduate school I strongly recommend you visit the university and get a tour. Talk with students in the program and ask them any questions you might have. They will give you the most realistic perspective of what the program is like. I recommend you make a list of questions before you visit and ask in person. The following is a list of questions to get you started.

1) What are the strengths in the program?
2) What are the weaknesses the program?
3) What are recent graduates currently doing?
4) What is your schedule like?
5) How do you like the area?
6) What are you not learning that you’d like to learn?
7) Are there scholarship opportunities?
8) How many students dropped out of your class the first year?
9) Are faculty professionally active?

I recommend you apply to multiple graduate programs and have a backup plan encase you don’t in into your first choice. Most programs will expect you to send in a portfolio on a CD with approximately 12-15 of your best works. You will also send in a resume and letters of recommendation. Talk to graduate admission councilors or faculty at the school to see what type of work they hope to see. Scholarships are often awarded based on the quality of work displayed in your portfolio.

January 5, 2017Comments are off for this post.

In-Person Portfolio Presentation

1) start by showing your resume first, talk about your background
2) ask questions, be inquisitive, show interest in your reviewer – your interviewing them as they are interviewing you
3) edit your portfolio based on the type of work the firm does
(if your interviewing for a publication job show mostly publication work)
4) it’s good to show preliminary sketches with one project
5) include a summary of each project, include the goals, intent, audience, medium
6) have something to say about each project don’t just sit there white the person looks through your book, be engaging.
7) have 12-15 works in your book
8) place your best work up front and at the end
9) display your work in a book that is no larger than 11×14″ (8.5×11″ is the norm)
10) don’t over or under-dress, make note of how others dress at the firm
11) do research – learn as much as you can about the individual or firm before you go to the interview
12) display your work in it’s appropriate format, if your interviewing for a web design job show work on screen
13) give your interviewer a leave behind
14) ask for your interviewers business card and see if it’s okay for you to check back with them later
15) mail or email them a thank you after the interview
16) realize that your work isn’t everything, it’s equally important that you have a good rapore with your interviewer

January 5, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Inspirational Resources

From time to time we all find ourselves faced with a creative wall. Some of us are able to bound the wall with ease while others have trouble overcoming this obstacle. So how do we become creatively fit? While there is no one answer to this conundrum there is a simple way to get those wheels turning. Get inspired by others! Here is a list of some great websites that offer just that.

Website: http://www.ffffound.com
No need to scour the web looking for inspiration when the users of FFFFound (yes that’s 4-F’s) will collect it for you. The results are sometimes odd, sometimes funny, but always inspiring. Just don’t get inspired for too long.

Website: http://www.gigposters.com
The place to go when looking for poster or graphical inspiration has to be GigPosters. The site has a huge collection of posters that only gets larger by the day.

Website: http://www.behance.com
Not only a great place to put up an online portfolio but also a great website that showcases works across many different media in a clean and easy to consume fashion.

Lovely Package
Website: http://www.lovelypackage.com
If what you need is packaging ideas then Lovely Package has you covered. Professional and great student work is aggregated here.

Typography Served
Website: http://www.typographyserved.com
Get your type on at Typography Served with fantastic type work, sculptural lettering, and font creations.

We Love Typography
Website: http://welovetypography.com
The world of type is so expansive that there is enough material still to be covered and that is where We Love Typography comes in.