Hi everyone... it's been a minute.
Let’s catch up. Let’s start with ten major takeaways from my first twelve months out of college (specifically in the advertising world).
I’ve been meaning to evaluate my progress, thoughts and experiences since graduation for a while… and now seems like the perfect time to reset and recollect my feelings.
I’ve compiled some advice that I’ve been given, also some lessons I’ve learned in harder ways. I’m hoping this can spark an open and honest conversation for my fellow young friends entering the working world, and maybe even inspire others with more experience and time in the industry.
I spent three years studying design and advertising in college and had a handful of design and marketing internships. I moved to Omaha after graduation in May of 2016 to intern at an ad agency for roughly 5 months before I was eventually hired on full time. I’ve been an associate designer for roughly 11 months and I’ve been freelancing for 3 years.
HERE WE GO. 10 things I learned. Woooooo.
1. I’ll start out with a basic for my designer friends: Pay attention to the proper uses for Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop.
So hopefully you know this. But coming from the girl who tried to create a 20 page magazine in Illustrator her senior year?? Oops.
Check out this super helpful guide for when to use each of the golden Adobe programs: https://99designs.com/blog/tips/photoshop-vs-illustrator-vs-indesign/
If you’re working a certain way because it’s the way you’ve always done it and you’re scared to try something new… you’re likely missing out on a more efficient process to achieve higher quality work. Try something new and be experienced in a range of programs.
2. Manually kerned type is a thing you should do.
Typography is everyf***ingwhere. Practicing good typography is more than looking like a sophisticated type setter; good typography can completely disrupt a viewer in a positive or negative way. Attention to detail matters. Spend the extra time to polish the smallest details of your work and your entire portfolio will appear more professional and put together.
Learning how to properly kern my type has been a long, slow process and it takes years to develop the eye for the right type treatments. But you can start here: http://www.magazinedesigning.com/how-to-kern-type/
3. People who’ve been burned by the industry (everyone) appreciate your enthusiasm as much as your talent.
Initially, I was so caught up in performing my best and being the most talented designer that I could be that I didn’t even notice my own energy and enthusiasm. Naturally I was happy all the time because I was doing and exactly what I wanted and people could see that. If you think about your contribution to the people you work with every day, and your focus is 100% on the product you’re providing them and 0% how you treat, approach and speak to them, the product might not even matter at all.
So regardless of the circumstances, your attitude and the way you treat people can often trump the product or service you’re contributing. Be nice.
4. Paying your dues doesn’t have to mean burning yourself out and hating your life after the first 3 years of working for an ad agency.
Find a more realistic way of giving back to those around you other than spending 18 hours of the day, 7 days of the week to working and thinking about work.
Trust me. Not only are you doing yourself a disservice by never disconnecting from work, you’re also failing your peers by burning yourself out and working on a 30-50% battery most of the time. There will be some rough days and some seasons of long hours, but making a routine of being a slave to the work is detrimental and good for absolutely no one. Your work will suffer and your coworkers, your managers and even the clients will pay for it. Find a healthy balance that benefits everyone.
5. Quality over quantity in your side gigs.
Saying yes to every project and every opportunity to help someone, even if you know how to do it and do it well, can absolutely drain your time for chasing the things that matter most to you. Be selective in your side work as soon as you have enough experience and options to do so. Kindly turn people down who don’t share the same goals and values as you. Value your own time and experience even when it’s hard to simply say “no”.
6. Assume your first idea is never the best idea–chase the higher-hanging fruit always.
This is a challenge for fresh-out-of-school students, and it is still a struggle for me. In school, your first and favorite idea is usually what you turn into the professor for a final grade.
Working with real clients means finding the best solution for someone other than yourself. Be relentlessly curious to explore options after you’ve done your research and asked the appropriate questions. Be prepared to provide your recommendation as well as a couple additional options, but never assume your first favorite will be the chosen one.
7. You may not agree with people. You may not function the same way others do. You may not like people. But you can't let this consume you.
Everyone goes through this, especially young adults entering the work force–you just don’t work the best with certain people. After being a student and living mostly at home for 18-22 years, spending 40+ hours a week with a sea of new adults and new egos is a challenge.
Even if your job and the people you work with aren’t forever, treat them the best you can. Don’t hold yourself back from getting the most out of your job or getting to know people just because you got a bad first impression. Be patient, be slow to get angry about little things, and take a deep breath.
8. Putting all your worth and joy into your work is ultimate turmoil.
This is a hard lesson for everyone to swallow, but let’s get serious for a second. Your worth is not in your job, your talents, your relationships, your money or material objects. Your worth is not in your past or your future. Your value cannot be calculated by a sum of your accomplishments and possessions. You are not your job.
With that being said, there are grave mistakes in being consumed by work and temporary things like work. You can go above and beyond while maintaining a healthy, happy, balanced life (see point #4). And you can truly care about your career without placing your self-worth in a title, money, or even what you think your managers think of you.
See the value in just the person you are, the truest form of yourself. Work, relationships, money all removed.
9. Realize you won’t make everyone happy every single day.
You can’t please everyone and you won’t always be their cup of tea.
Give your best to every person you encounter, but turn most of your focus toward those who radiate energy and appreciation for you too.
Personally, I can get so caught up on a rough interaction with someone. One iffy conversation and I’m uneasy, sweating and nervous all day. I’ll even remember some conversations months later and kick myself for it. But some of the greatest freedom I have experienced is letting go of the nervousness that someone doesn’t like me or thinks less than highly of me. You can let go of the pressure to please someone while still maintaining respect and peace with that person.
10. If you wait until you feel ready, you’re already late to the game.
Something that has held me back over and over in the last year is me telling myself “You’re not ready.” Or “You don’t have the skillset or experience to do this.” Or “There are others who would be better at this than you.”
If there is something you’re excited about, speak up. If you think you might be good at something, or you would at least enjoy doing it, speak up.
Don’t disqualify yourself before you’ve even tried. Putting yourself in a situation you may not feel prepared to do can be terrifying. But others will recognize you for your excitement and eagerness to try new things. You may even learn a new skill or discover a new passion that will open new doors of opportunity.
One last thing we've all heard before, but is so hard to accept: It's okay to not have it all together.
Whether it's your own expectations or someone else setting expectations for you, things hardly ever fall into place the way you think they should. Upon graduating, it's easy to create a big to-do list of adult things you think are necessary in order to move forward in life. The perfect job, the perfect apartment, and you must get a new car, the list goes on. If you're diligent in pursuing the things you want, and your patient in trusting the process, good things will happen in time.
Please enjoy this video I shot and put together alongside an incredible animator and team of creative thinking interns. We had an amazing eight weeks during the BLX and I'm ecstatic to be staying on as a full time intern at Bailey for three month extension!
Facebook post from graduation day, May 14:
I felt so loved today on the Morningside campus. Today I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Advertising, and Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design, Summa Cum Laude. The Morningside art department who has been the greatest blessing to me the past three years chose me as Graduating Art Senior of the year, and on the flip side I was inducted into Alpha Delta Sigma, the AAF National Advertising Honor Society with the help of my lovely business advisor. I've found a new family here at Morningside and taking the three year fast track turned out to be a little more heartbreaking than I imagined. Thank you, God. Thank you for these wonderful people and this beautiful journey.
Thank you to all my friends and family who attended my senior art exhibit at the Eppley Art Gallery at Morningside College! I can't begin to describe my relief and appreciation that the event is over, and I'm now able to reflect and share the highs and lows of my college journey with you all.
The path for me the past three years hasn't always been clear, but I know I've made it through because of all the incredibly supportive people in my life. So thank you for a fun, rewarding show!
(side note) It's almost time to celebrate! Morningside's graduation commencement is Saturday, May 14, 2016. More photos and announcements to follow.
Today is THE DAY.
I have been losing sleep over this day all semester. I've been dreaming of this day since the spring of my freshmen year in my first design course. I couldn't imagine what it would feel like, and I still can't believe I got through it! My senior art exhibit will be up in the Eppley Art Gallery at Morningside College until Thursday, April 21.
For those who can't make it, I've placed my artist statement below, and pictures to come.
Thank you all.
If you reside somewhere in the Silicon Prairie area and know a thing or two about innovation and networking, you've probably run into powerhouse duo, Ryan Martinez and Sean Richardson. The question is what AREN'T these guys doing? Since I came to Sioux City in the Fall of 2013, I've seen these two everywhere, doing the coolest things in new technology and fresh design.
Together, these two make up Flyover Technology (flyovertechnology.com) and host an event every six months called BASE 3 (flyovertechnology.com/base3). This event seeks to cultivate a passion for entrepreneurship, innovation, and community building. I'm overwhelmingly impressed by the turn-out and execution of BASE 3 every time I attend. Ryan and Sean have both given so much of their time to provide networking and mentor opportunities for myself and the growing innovation network within the Siouxland area. Check out these photos I captured of their event
The Kiosk is the Art & Literary magazine that has been produced by Morningside College for over 75 years. Graphic Design professor John Kolbo has been overseeing the project and directing the design and construction of the piece for quite sometime. Last year I had the pleasure of being the Visual Editor for the 2015 Kiosk. This involves leading the advertising for getting art submissions from students, faculty, and staff, working with the literary editor to collect the copy, and collaborating with John to put the piece together! A celebration event closes the publication in late April. Here is the cover of last year's publication
I'm blessed with the chance to be the Visual Editor once again for the 2016 Kiosk! We're welcoming art submissions now through the end of February and then the fun really begins. Stay tuned friends.
Part of being a happy, well-rounded designer comes from the natural intuition to create all the time and make ordinary communication into a more relatable, attractive piece. Seeing opportunities to go the extra mile in order to make communication more impactful and effective will open doors for more meaningful work. What do I mean by 'meaningful work'? These are the kind of projects that not only send fire through your veins, but help build the skeleton of your career. You will forever be proud of them and they will define what you stand for as a designer.
When presented with a free-range project in my Video Production class in the early winter of 2015, my mind couldn't help but soar with ideas of a dance video. Dark, raw, and emotional dance with an intense beat. Harsh, deeply casted shadows and sharp motions that ooze with drama and lust... My natural creativity not only inspires my graphic design work, but also the 15 years I have spent as a competitive dancer.
Enjoy this video I directed, filmed, and edited using my Canon Rebel 5200 and iMovie on my Macbrook Pro. A big special thanks to my talented friend, Erin Oliver for dancing for me!
Meet Hayley Hochstetler of Studio H2 Photo & Design.
Hayley and I worked hand in hand throughout high school on a few yearbooks/newspaper collaborations... and here we are again! Studio H2 is Hayley's photography business she has started in the heart of Council Bluffs. She provides amazing photo services at a realistic price without the extra photo fudging and retouching, for a naturally gorgeous finish. I'm so proud of her hard work and dedication to the craft. Together, we brainstormed her company name and branding identity. I believe the combination both suites her bold and spunky personality, and also compliments her creative edge as a photo journalist. Creative projects for startups always make me feel all kinds of feelings. Love her! Check her out at studioh2photoanddesign.com
In the fall of 2015, I was enrolled in a Graphic Design Studio course at Morningside College with adjunct professor Jeff Gordon (principal of JD Gordon Creative Labs in Sioux City). Our second project of the course was to develop of public service campaign that would bring awareness to an issue or cause of our choice. I tend to take a light interest in all sorts of current social issues. So my initial thought was; how can I help the animals, women's rights, unborn babies, police officers, people struggling with addiction, human trafficking in America, hungry people in Africa... the list goes on. What I didn't realize was that this was a moment of a much deeper kind of learning. So often for advertising students, I think we lose our way in the sea of opportunities, (that is for those who truly hunger for the opportunity). We try to please too many people, wear too many hats right away and forget that we need to settle into our craft, fall in love with it, and master it if we are going to actually make a difference. That being said, as I was trying to decide on my focus for the project, it took some time before I realized exactly where I wanted to put my effort and passion.
Another thing about students in advertising and graphic design: you either have the confidence or you don't. I certainly was not gifted with it, but here I am fighting my darn hardest to find it somewhere. So in my mess of self-doubt over this precious project, I did a 180 and found this fire within myself of finding my self-confidence, I wanted to be 100% crazy about my work and my idea. So I quickly began concepting for a self-esteem campaign, and not only that, but one that advocates for children. I called my campaign, The Empowered Kids Campaign.
The class project included:
Although the campaign itself is about the children, it targets parents, guardians, teachers, mentors, and coaches, as these people have the greatest affect on developing minds. Join the stand for healthier young minds, and enjoy some of the pieces from my project!