career paths

How Do You Define a "Professional"?

Recently, I was discussing with someone the Brooklyn public library's availability of the Adobe Suite on Macs. To my surprise, she was adamantly opposed to this notion, exclaiming that there would be no way to distinguish between the "professional" and "any old person" claiming to be so.

I hesitated because I knew what she was referring to. I've seen it on Etsy, Shutterstock, and similarly mass stock, templated sites where someone who isn't qualified for the job is submitting vector icons that aren't vectored, let alone pathfinded or separated onto layers. I've witnessed people promoting logo design capabilities by smooshing two letters together and calling it a day. These kinds of un-certified wannabes are frustrating to the people who have learned, in some capacity, the "right" and "wrong" in graphic design in terms of technical skills.

However, claiming to be a professional too often refers to hard skill sets when it should also refer to professional behavior. Belittling or degrading people who maybe don't know as much as you is the lowest and least form of professionalism. In being a part of graphic design, a profession often referred to as "visual communication", isn't the goal precisely about dialogue and opening up pathways for opportunity? Communication is a balance between speaking and hearing. It's about learning something new from one another, sharing ideas on both ends. You cannot claim to be a graphic designer, let alone a professional, if you refuse to strengthen your skills in open dialogue. It seems to me that if a professional chooses to judge someone who isn't as knowledgeable in the subject at hand, and yet doesn't offer to teach what they know to that individual, he/she has just closed the door on the very basis of graphic design: conversation. Instead of criticizing someone with less developed technical skills, why not offer to help? Use your expertise to give suggestions, to advise, to listen. A selfish designer is not a professional, but an empathetic one just might be.

education

Here's What I'm Doing to Stay Current as a Graphic Designer

I know what you're thinking: "Emily, how are you possibly staying current when you're working for a company that's mostly dealing with print?"

What a great question and a definitely something I'm aware of. In this day and age where the career paths of graphic designer, web designer, UX Designer, Front-End Developer, etc. are increasingly becoming more intertwined with one another, it's not enough to be a mere print designer. At the very least, it's essential that I have basic, working knowledge of these areas. Although the company that I work for currently does not offer continuing education courses or skill enrichment sessions, I've taken it upon myself to see what resources I can utilize both within the city that I live in and this wonderfully expansive thing called "the internet."

 

First, I've joined the Philadelphia chapter of the MeetUp group "Girl Develop It" who describe themselves as, "Girl Develop It is a nonprofit organization that exists to provide affordable and judgment-free opportunities for women interested in learning web and software development. Through in-person classes and community support, Girl Develop It helps women of diverse backgrounds achieve their technology goals and build confidence in their careers and their every day lives."

My first course starts in May and is called, "UX101: Intro to User Experience (UX)" and I'm really excited to not only learn about the subject, but to network and get to know others in the scene. I'm so so grateful that this company exists and is providing such wonderful, affordable education. Honestly, I have looked into certificate programs as well as adult programming courses at local colleges, but cost was always a major concern. Thanks Girl Develop It!

 

 

Second, I'm utilizing Aquent's online "Gymnasium." Aquent says the following about its wonderful resource, "We created Aquent Gymnasium to bridge the skills gap. The skills gap is getting in the way. It prevents companies from engaging customers across devices and taking advantage of emerging technologies. It also prevents digital, creative, and communications professionals from producing great work, delivering results and advancing their careers. Aquent Gymnasium bridges the skills gap by taking what we've learned from our clients and developing free, online courses that teach digital designers and front-end developers today's most in demand skills."

I love what Aquent says about its "Gym" and I couldn't agree more. Even to call it a "gym" implies "working out" skills, "stretching" your brain, "pushing yourself" to improve. I found this amazing resource while researching AIGA's "Career Resources and Tools" section, which I am a member of. Right now, I'm just enrolled in the introductory classes, but I'm going to take as many classes as they offer.

So that's what I'm up to. I hope that anyone reading this post recognizes my desire to grow as a designer, even if that means finding a way to do so, independent of the office. I'm taking the initiative and happily looking forward to achieving my goal of becoming a more well-rounded graphic designer. Who is current, of course.

career

Dad Always Knows Best

When I was in middle school or high school, my dad brought home several VHS tapes on how to become an engineer, "I think you'd be really good at it," he said. I watched the tapes, didn't really get it, and opted to apply to Drexel under Music Industry. However, I applied late and the program was capped so they couldn't fit me in. Instead, I was accepted under my second choice, Interior Architecture. Did that for two years then changed my mind again to Graphic Design.

And now I'm thinking my Pops was right all along and that, at heart, I'm a problem solver, a builder, experimenter. My heart is in 3-D. I love, love graphic design but I want it to come off the page. Can you imagine a Russian constructivist poster built in 3-D, and then movable? 

Source:   http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/9009/stengal.html   The Man with the Movie Camera, '29 (Chelovek s Kinoapparatom) USSR, '29Museum of Modern Art, New York, Arthur Drexler Fund  This poster was created by Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg, who were members of a group of artist engineers in the early Soviet Union. The brothers created posters to promote films that embody the constructivist style. This poster uses a montage of several drawings and designs from the film. It uses contrasting colours and simple designs and geometric shape. There is also a very strong emphasis on technology (the camera), which persists in constructivist art.

Source: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/9009/stengal.html

The Man with the Movie Camera, '29 (Chelovek s Kinoapparatom) USSR, '29Museum of Modern Art, New York, Arthur Drexler Fund

This poster was created by Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg, who were members of a group of artist engineers in the early Soviet Union. The brothers created posters to promote films that embody the constructivist style. This poster uses a montage of several drawings and designs from the film. It uses contrasting colours and simple designs and geometric shape. There is also a very strong emphasis on technology (the camera), which persists in constructivist art.

Imagine the possibilities in transforming this piece, that way. I don't mean sculpture, I mean moving, interacting, etc.

I should have paid more attention when all the birthday cards I ever made anyone were based on simple mechanics. Pop-up cards, movable parts, textured variations, die-cuts and elements of surprise.



Of course now, the concern becomes hire-ability. I'll have to start building on my own and market it enough that hopefully someone wants to hire me based on that. What jobs do I take? My heart sank when I watched that Wayne White documentary because he did, and is still doing, what I would prefer to be doing, at least as far as the prop building, experimenting goes.


Here's some words that should be associated with me:
1. experimenter
2. builder
3. lover
4. story-teller
5. problem-solver
6. interactor
7. guerilla art enthusiast
8. magician
9. beautifier
10. listener
11. giver
12. collaborator
13. communicator
14. (endlessly more)

Also, I feel like many of the newest technologies have the illusion of human interaction but do not actually achieve it. It's kind of like when American history class used to tell us that the U.S. was a melting pot of different people and cultures. Then later they said that that wasn't actually accurate, and what was more true was viewing the U.S. as a tossed salad: each culture is still its own separate entity, not actually mixing together. I'd be interested in melting things together again, so to speak.