Breaking into Graphic Design by Michael Jefferson


475814a25d2174f-261x361.jpeg Author Michael Jefferson
Isbn 9781581154214
File size 1MB
Year 2005
Pages 208
Language English
File format PDF
Category design



 

Prelims 15/07/2005 11:40 AM Page i Graph ic Graphic Breaking into Design Prelims 15/07/2005 11:40 AM Page ii Prelims 15/07/2005 11:40 AM Page iii Breaking into Graphic Design Tips from the Pros on Finding the Right Position for You Michael Jefferson ALLWORTH PRESS NEW YORK Prelims 15/07/2005 11:40 AM Page iv DISCLAIMER This book in no way guarantees employment. It is merely a guide aimed at providing information about the design industry’s often-confusing hiring process. © 2005 Michael Jefferson All rights reserved. Copyright under Berne Copyright Convention, Universal Copyright Convention, and Pan-American Copyright Convention. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior permission of the publisher. 08 07 06 05 04 5 4 3 2 1 Published by Allworth Press An imprint of Allworth Communications, Inc. 10 East 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010 Cover design by Derek Bacchus Cover Photo © digital vision Interior design by Mary Belibasakis Page composition/typography by Integra Software Services, Pvt. Ltd., Pondicherry, India ISBN: 1-58115-421-6 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Jefferson, Michael, 1982– Breaking into graphic design: tips from the pros on finding the right position for you / Michael Jefferson. p. cm. Includes index. ISBN 1-58115-421-6 (pbk.) 1. Graphic arts—Vocational guidance—United States. 2. Commercial art—Vocational guidance— United States. I. Title. NC1001.J44 2005 741.6'023'73—dc22 2005017582 Printed in Canada Prelims 15/07/2005 11:40 AM Page v D E D I CAT I O N This book is dedicated first and foremost to my family, who give me more support and encouragement than I deserve. It is also dedicated to the countless people who made my art school experience one that I will never be able to forget, no matter how hard I try. Prelims 15/07/2005 11:40 AM Page vi Prelims 15/07/2005 11:40 AM Page vii CONTENTS ........................................ v I N T R O D U C T I O N : My Inspiration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix The Application Process Is Painful . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii DEDICATION Interviews with Employed Graphic Designers . . . . . . . . 1 Melissa Derecola . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Amy Spokas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Sean Flanagan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 D. Sherene Offutt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Ann Jordan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Andrew Sherman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 CHAPTER 1: Where to Find Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Ways to Break into the Industry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Starting Your Network . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 CHAPTER 2: Job Search Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . When to Look for Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Do You Need a Higher Education? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Diversifying Your Abilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . You Have More to Learn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Time to Relocate? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Research and Networking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 35 36 37 37 38 38 How to Package Yourself to Get Noticed . . . . . . . . . . . Drafting Your Résumé . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Drafting Your Cover Letter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Selecting and Sending Your Work Samples . . . . . . . . . . . Designing Your Web Site . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Applying to a Temp Agency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Will They Ever Respond? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 40 42 44 46 47 48 CHAPTER 3: CHAPTER 4: Prelims 15/07/2005 11:40 AM Page viii V I I I • CONTENTS Interviews with People Who Hire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mariann Seriff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mike Raso . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Victoria Coulter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . David Tull . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Adam Gezelle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CHAPTER 5: 51 51 60 70 82 92 98 How to Interview Successfully . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .107 The Job Application . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .107 What to Bring with You . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .109 Communication Is Essential . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110 Interview Attire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117 The Thank-You Letter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117 CHAPTER 6: Interview Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121 Entry-Level Graphic Designer Position . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121 Layout Artist/Graphic Designer Position . . . . . . . . . . . .127 Web Designer Position . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131 CHAPTER 7: Evaluating and Accepting the Right Job . . . . . . . . . . . 137 Finding a Good Fit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137 A Job Offer Is Just the Beginning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .138 CHAPTER 8: Interviews with Business Owners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .143 David Herbick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .143 Katie Torok . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .146 Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .150 Anonymous A and Anonymous B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .153 Barbara Jean McAtlin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .157 Howard Levy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .160 CHAPTER 9: The Pros and Cons of Starting a Business . . . . . . . . .165 C H A P T E R 1 1 : Résumé Gallery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .169 T H A N K YO U S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179 I N D E X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .181 CHAPTER 10: Prelims 15/07/2005 11:40 AM Page ix INTRODUCTION My Inspiration Why is it so hard for recent graduates to find work if they have the ability to produce eye-catching graphic designs? The easy answer is that they are not applying for jobs proficiently. While the information in these pages focuses on graphic design in particular, people in all areas of design can benefit from it. Employers in every field of the arts look for the same qualities in applicants. Before I get to the information readers really want, I will explain what inspired me to write this book. (If you don’t care about that, turn to page 1 to start reading the interviews.) I decided to study the field of computer graphics after I saw Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The computer effects and animation in that movie amazed me enough to make me want to learn everything I could about computer imagery. The decision to forego the Ivy Leagues, however, was unpopular with my parents, and to this day I still have not told them that my choice was influenced by Star Wars. When I began the college application process, I applied to ten schools: nine liberal arts institutions and one art school. The high school I went to was a prestigious college prep school that strictly focused on academics, offering only two art classes (which explains my parent’s confusion about my interest in the arts). The only art school I applied to accepted me, and I decided to attend. W H Y A R E G O O D D E S I G N E R S U N E M P L OY E D ? Prelims 15/07/2005 11:40 AM Page x X • INTRODUCTION My college experience can be summed up in one word: strange. Although it was weird, the school was great for me because I met people who I never would have been exposed to, and learned a lot about the field that I am passionate about. I studied everything from graphic design and 3D animation to painting and sculpture. As a testament to the program, there is a distinct difference between my work in the first year and the work I was producing at the end of my college experience. My first-year work sucked; my senior-year work was great. I wasn’t one of those people who finished at the top of my class, but I graduated in four years, unlike many others. My final cumulative GPA was 3.4. I was a good student. The summer before I started college, I began working as an intern for a contracting company, which lent the services of its employees to clients as needed. As far as I am concerned, the start of this internship marked the beginning of my design career. It was a paid internship. I worked full time for the company for four summers. Every summer I returned I was given a raise for exceptional performance the previous year. After the second summer, I began telecommuting and was able to complete projects for my job while maintaining a full course load and holding down a job on campus. I think that’s pretty impressive. The projects I had to complete included everything a business would need in terms of design: letterhead, logos, page layouts, posters, Web sites, motion graphics, illustrations, promotional items, newsletters, corporate briefings, and presentations. There was probably more stuff, but that’s all I can remember. Every employed graphic designer, intern or not, probably has a list of completed projects that is just as long, if not longer than mine. I believe the thing that set me apart was simultaneously working in a group environment and through self-supervision. The group I worked for was called the Rapid Operations Communications team. We would have group meetings to understand the needs of clients and Prelims 15/07/2005 11:40 AM Page xi My Inspiration • X I what they wanted to see in the projects we were creating for them. Once the project was understood, the team trusted me, a mere intern, to create the entire project. Once I finished a first draft, the group would meet again to critique my work. I then took their suggestions and made the changes that were appropriate. The designs were then shown to clients at meetings that I attended. One client I worked for was a branch of the United States government, an extremely important client. If my work wasn’t being done at a professional level, I would have been assigned to a different client. Every design I created was approved by the client the first time it was reviewed. I have created a lot of designs for the branch of the government I worked for, and graphics that I created can be seen all over the offices where I worked. Some of my co-workers liked my work so much that they decorated their cubicles with the imagery I designed. My internship ended when I graduated. After I got my degree I wanted more pay and more duties. The office I worked for tried to make me understand that they didn’t have a big enough budget to pay me the salary I deserved, even though three people had just gotten fired due to poor performance, not budget issues. I decided that I would rather be unemployed than continue as an intern with no potential for growth. When I started looking for design work, I thought I would have a job in less than a month. That was foolish. At the beginning of my search I was excited about the projects I would be working on, the people I would meet, and the money I would be making. I was so excited that I had enough energy to apply for forty jobs in my first two months out of art school. I was really hoping for more than two responses. Due to scheduling conflicts I was not even able to attend those two interviews. Confident in my abilities and disappointed about the lack of interest in me, I guessed that I was going about the process in the wrong way. Prelims 15/07/2005 11:40 AM Page xii X I I • INTRODUCTION After all of my education, all of my experience, working at an office where I was able to use my design skills every day, employers were telling me that they didn’t want to hire me? Were they crazy? If they didn’t want me, whom did they want? I had heard many things about what people looked for in a graphic designer, and I was tired of hearing what uninformed people had to tell me. The majority of the jobs I applied for were listings for graphic designers. Most of them were soliciting for applicants who had three to five years of experience. The response I got most often was that I didn’t have the experience necessary to fill the position. I had been working as an intern for four years doing exactly what the listings described as the duties of a graphic designer. With all the experience I had gotten during my internship, how could potential employers have the audacity to tell me that I didn’t have the necessary experience? Some readers may be thinking that I didn’t have a strong portfolio, or that these places were trying to make something up instead of telling me that my work was terrible. That is not the case either. When applying for graphic design work, an artist has to submit work samples along with a résumé and cover letter. These work samples act as proof that the designer can create the type of imagery he claims he is able to create. I have often heard that the portfolio is the most important part of an application, and I always assumed that was true. Even though employers were frustrating me with this experience issue, they were also telling me that my work was good. People have told me that a high school dropout can find work if he or she has a strong portfolio. I couldn’t understand why I, a college graduate with work experience and a strong portfolio, was having such a hard time finding work. If I had dropped out, maybe I would have gotten a job faster! Who knows. Prelims 15/07/2005 11:40 AM Page xiii My Inspiration • X I I I With all of these myths floating around, and me not being able to find a job with the credentials I had, I decided to do something to help myself and others trying to break into the design industry. That is why I wrote this book. The Application Process Is Painful I have always thought that the perfect life for me would be sitting at the beach all day while my wife, Salma Hayek, fed me buckets of Popeye’s chicken. I have been thinking more about my vision of a perfect life now that I don’t have a job and have nothing better to do. After about a week, I would get tired of the hot sand. Salma would probably start to annoy me as all of my ex-girlfriends have after a few weeks. That’s why they’re exes. Eventually, as hard as it is for me to admit this, I would get sick of Popeye’s chicken. What does this have to do with employment? I’ll tell you. Most people think they don’t want to work. That seems logical, as most people who have jobs are pretty angry and don’t want to go to work. But a lot of unemployed people are also angry because they don’t have a job. Many people work simply because they need money to live. That is an undeniable fact. Aside from that, working gives people something to do. If work was only about money, why does Donald Trump still build skyscrapers? Why does Oprah continue to host her talk show? Why hasn’t Bill Gates retired? Those people have all the money they could ever need, yet they keep doing the things that made them so wealthy. They need something in their lives that occupies their minds. Having a job makes people feel like they have something to offer to the world. It gives them something to talk about when people ask, “What do you do?” It is a status symbol. In many R&B songs, female singers enthusiastically sing about not wanting a sorry man that doesn’t have a job. Having a job makes Prelims 15/07/2005 11:40 AM Page xiv X I V • INTRODUCTION you a productive member of society. Employers need to respect the fact that the people who are applying for jobs are people that want to work, and, in most cases, want to do a good job. I know quite a few people who are unsuccessfully looking for work. Myself, my mother, and the nine hundred people I recently graduated with are all in the hunt. I apply for jobs that match my experience and my mother does the same. In the opening of this intro, I mentioned my difficulty in understanding employers’ criteria for experience. My mother has thirty years of experience working in her field. She was laid off from her job and searched in vain over a two-year period to find employment. That is completely illogical. Is thirty years not enough experience? The job application process is clearly flawed if people like my mother and I can’t find work. To have any hope of getting a design job, you have to know what employers look for and you have to give that to them. If you don’t, your résumé will be one of the countless thousands that end up in the trash can. In addition to experienced designers who are looking for work, there are hundreds of thousands of new graduates of art programs every year, any one of whom could decide to compete for design work. That is a lot of competition. In the midst of all that competition, finding good advice on job hunting techniques will provide applicants with a great advantage. Before I knew better, I sought that advice in all the wrong places. A few weeks after I started applying for jobs, I sent my résumé to a “professional résumé review” service. The response I got from that service illustrated to me the fact that people outside the art community just don’t understand. I was in the process of redesigning my résumé because it was outdated. The last time I had updated it was during my freshman year in college. While I was reworking the design, I wanted to get some “professional” advice on what a design résumé should look Prelims 15/07/2005 11:40 AM Page xv My Inspiration • X V like. I received a response from the service letting me know my résumé had been reviewed two days after I had e-mailed it. The service suggested that I describe my job duties in long sentences. My research has shown that the people reviewing résumés don’t have time to read long sentences. They want to read important information, nothing more. It also failed to suggest ideas I could use to make the design of my résumé more appealing to potential employers. In fact, the service suggested that I take all the design elements out of my résumé. A design résumé that fails to show one’s design capabilities is like writing a note that says “Please don’t employ me.” People outside the art community have no idea what employers in the art and design industries are looking for. To this day I am happy I did not have to pay for that “professional” advice. Valuable information on the techniques necessary to find work as a designer can only come from people within the design community. It became clear to me that the easiest way to get to that information was by talking to people who were willing to share it. The research I conducted was done in the form of interviews. Every person I talked to was working in the design industry at the time the interview was conducted. The interviews included in the following chapters have provided me, and hopefully will provide you, with invaluable information about the hiring process for designers. Due to limited space and time, the interviews are not transcribed in their entirety, but the documented answers to all questions are quoted directly from the various interviewees. At the end of this book, I want every artist who reads this and desires to work in the field of design to have a better understanding of the application process. To achieve that goal, I interviewed people whose information about design employment would be helpful to newcomers. As a person who had recently gone through the process of trying to find a job, I knew which questions to ask. I asked about everything a recent college graduate would want to know regarding Prelims 15/07/2005 11:40 AM Page xvi X V I • INTRODUCTION the hiring process for designers working in full-time positions. I also provide information about other forms of employment available to designers, such as freelance work and running a business. I talked to working graphic designers. I found out how they had gotten their jobs and how long it had taken them to get to where they were at the time of the interview. I also talked to the people at design firms who make the hiring decisions. I learned exactly what they want to see in an application, and what personal qualities applicants have who get hired. I talked to people who started their own design businesses, who make their living doing design work. They told me about what they had to go through to get their businesses off the ground and what they wished they had done differently. I also cover the field of temporary (temp) work. I interviewed people at temp agencies to find out what they look for in people they have in their talent pool. To make sure I got a variety of opinions, I interviewed subjects from design firms of various sizes, all with varying levels of experience. To cover the experience of different regions, I interviewed people from all parts of the country. I have tried to cover every avenue of employment open to graphic designers. The interviews were conducted as follows. A set of questions was composed to correspond to each of the three interview categories: Employed Designers, People Who Hire, and Businesses Owners. Before every interview, the participants gave their consent allowing the interview to be recorded. The interviews were then transcribed and printed in this book. Some participants chose to remain anonymous and that request was honored. The names of the companies the subjects work for are not included to avoid any legal issues that could potentially arise. Chapter 01 15/07/2005 11:03 AM Page 1 CHAPTER 1 Interviews with Employed Graphic Designers are just that, people who get paid to do design work. They have the kinds of jobs that unemployed designers are looking for. These people have gone through the process of looking for work and have achieved success. They have done everything that was necessary to get the job. The people interviewed in this chapter provide insight into a number of ways one can break into the field of design. One participant began as an intern, another found a job in the newspaper, and others were fortunate enough to have contacts who were willing to give them a job. These talented designers reveal the techniques they used to become design professionals. E M P L OY E D G R A P H I C D E S I G N E R S ◆ ❍ ◆ ❑ ◆ ❍ ◆ ❑ ◆ ❍ ◆ ❑ ◆ ❍ ◆ ❑ ◆ ❍ ◆ ❑ ◆ Melissa Derecola J O B T I T L E : Creative Director C O M P A N Y D E S C R I P T I O N : Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations D E G R E E : Graphic Design Communications P R E V I O U S J O B T I T L E ( S ) : Graphic Designer, Marketing Coordinator Y E A R S E M P L OY E D I N T H E D E S I G N I N D U S T R Y: 3 1/2 NAME: Chapter 01 15/07/2005 11:03 AM Page 2 2 • CHAPTER 1 How old were you when you knew you wanted to go into the arts? A : Growing up in a very small town, I did not think being an artist could be a job. When I was eight, I got real watercolor paper from a family friend who was an artist. At that point, art was something I wanted to do for fun, not actual work. It was not until high school that I realized art could be a job. Q: Was there a particular event or person that inspired you to become an artist? A : When I was a senior in high school, my history teacher, Ms. Fairbanks, let us do any sort of project we wanted on one of the cultures we were studying. I decided to create a newsletter about the Maya. I really enjoyed it, and before that point I had never realized that there were people who had jobs doing page layout. Q: How long were you without work before you found your current position? A : I had seven or eight months when I was employed in retail, not in the design field. I left that when I found this job. Q: Where did you look for job listings? A : The newspaper, Monster.com, and I mailed my information and samples to graphic design businesses I found in the phone book. I also went to almost all of the standard online career sites. Q: Q: A: Where did you find the listing for your current job? The newspaper. Did you do any research on the companies you applied to? A : I did some. Generally I would look at their Web sites. I wouldn’t do a lot until I got ready for interviews. For the most part, I just Q: Chapter 01 15/07/2005 11:03 AM Page 3 Interviews with Employed Graphic Designers • 3 looked online and if they had a Web site listed, I looked up what they actually did before I sent in an application. Once I got a call for an interview, I returned to the Web site and did more research to prepare for the interview itself. When you applied for the job you have now, what did you include with your job application? A : I sent a whole package in. It included my résumé, cover letter, and my sample business card, which I created. I sent samples of some of my college projects. I printed out some postcard designs and a poster, and I detailed what the projects were. Q: Q : When you applied, did you add any special design elements to your résumé? A : I created my own stationery system for myself. I had one when I was looking for a job and I have updated it now that I have gotten further. I think that’s important because if you are applying as a designer it is important to show that you can design. Did you tailor your work samples to match the work done at your current company? A : I did not because I didn’t really have that many samples. If I was doing it now, I would. Q: So you just chose what you thought was your best work? A : Right. Because, at that time, I only had a small selection of materials to choose from, so I just chose the best ones. Q: How were you notified that you would be considered for the position? A : I got a phone call. The owner called me and then we e-mailed several times trying to set up an interview. Q:

Author Michael Jefferson Isbn 9781581154214 File size 1MB Year 2005 Pages 208 Language English File format PDF Category Design Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare Packed with information on every step of the job search from writing a cover letter to assembling a portfolio, Breaking into Graphic Design is the definitive book on creating a professional, employable image. Interviews with more than forty award-winning designers, career counselors, and business owners demystify rituals and expectations. Job search strategies, presentation ideas, interview tips, and how-tos on evaluating and accepting offers, plus a résumé gallery, make this book an invaluable resource for anyone looking for work in the design field. Allworth Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, publishes a broad range of books on the visual and performing arts, with emphasis on the business of art. Our titles cover subjects such as graphic design, theater, branding, fine art, photography, interior design, writing, acting, film, how to start careers, business and legal forms, business practices, and more. While we don’t aspire to publish a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are deeply committed to quality books that help creative professionals succeed and thrive. We often publish in areas overlooked by other publishers and welcome the author whose expertise can help our audience of readers.     Download (1MB) Designing Magazines The Fine Artist’s Career Guide, 2nd Edition: Making Money in the Arts and Beyond Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators Digital Stock Photography: How to Shoot and Sell Photoshop 6 for Windows Bible Load more posts

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