graphic design


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.


Graphic Design in the Wes Anderson's film, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Wes Anderson's, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Wes Anderson's, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Last night I saw Wes Anderson's film, "The Grand Budapest Hotel". I like Wes Anderson enough, he's not my favorite, but it was an opportunity to get out of the rain and take advantage of Ritz' $7 movie Wednesdays, which is one of my favorite things in Philly.

What made me especially want to go see this particular film was because I read an article a couple days before about the graphic designer of the film, Annie Atkins. Basically, the article discussed all the elements of graphic design from packaging, signage, books, etc. that had to be created for the film. It was something I never actually considered before, but of course someone had to design all of those bits and pieces. What a dream job, right?

Paying careful attention to a movie purely for its graphic design qualities was interesting to me. Usually I reserve such a view for only title sequences. And maybe that's what I like best about Wes Anderson's films, just that it seems like he's presenting more, life-sized dioramas in that he's thinking about the artistic quality in a different way (and maybe that's not even the director's job anyway, I don't really know).

I thought Atkins' kerning was great and inspired me to explore this more in my own work. Each piece had the right attitude for the movie too, even at times comical.

Aside from Atkins' contributions, I have to mention the color palette of the film. I love seeing someone who's studied color theory mastering it in film, especially to see so in a theatre where everything looks particularly lush and vibrant.

And if you wanted my opinion of the film, 3/5 stars, maybe even 2.5/5. It's difficult to assess a movie's rating in its entirety when you become so bias towards the artistic quality of it, which I loved. Shucks.


AIGA Philly Panel Discussion, Part I


Tonight, I went to a panel discussion of AIGA Philly originators, in celebration of AIGA’s centennial.

Oh god. So many feelings. Overall, I feel the mood was down. All of us are depressed about the state of our industry. How all these kids who watch a couple YouTube videos on Photoshop think they can call themselves graphic designers. How everything is template based, iStock photo generated, etc., etc. the list goes on and on. It definitely has been depressing me, I just didn’t know that others felt similarly. Misery loves company, right?

Someone in the audience did ask the question about how to distinguish ourselves as professionals in this increasingly growing population of wannabes (one member of the board commented how depressed she felt after seeing a sign in the window of FedEx advertising that they do graphic design)? The panel members talked about fundamentals, and intuitive sense, to have a good idea and how not even a computer can give you that.

There was some hope, some optimism in celebrating technology as a means to connect designers globally. How, in a design sense, different countries are becoming blurred. There’s no longer such a clear distinction of Russian, Polish, German, Brazilian, etc. graphic design. Makes me a little bit sad only because I think of it more as a cultural identity, but I can see it being beneficial in working together, bringing in strong design teams by pulling talent from across the globe.

I was really tickled about something I had mentioned to a friend of mine a couple months ago about how I thought there would be a graphic design Renaissance. By this I just mean, we’ve been so quickly bombarded by this phoney graphic design culture of ready-made templates, icons, shutterstock, etc. that I think people are hungry for real craft. For example, there’s this trend starting back of hand-painted signage. How beautiful! But there’s something real about the tangible and putting in real, honest work. I think people will demand it again, I hope and pray. But I was totally jazzed tonight because one of the panel members said just as I had said! Even down to the words, “graphic design Renaissance”. Oh god, there must be more of us out there. I really, really, really hope that happens in my lifetime.

These hands were made for craftsmanship, I tell you.

(to be continued, more eloquently when I am not so heavy with sleep)