Designer Q&A Part I

This as a blog I wanted to post a while back. Back in November 2017, I was asked to answer some questions for a friend's college Studio Write Up class. I wanted to share, because it really do allow me to reflect on the past years. Some may or may not know, but not only am I the creator of The Design Track, but I've also been working full time for a church in North Houston since 2015.


1. How long ago did you decide that you wanted to be a graphic designer?

I have always had an interest in art and design, all from from puzzles to visiting museums. I took a computer arts class all four year of high school and had an incredible teacher — that’s when I knew I wanted to do something involving creativity and computers. I attended Texas State University with my mind already set on majoring in Communication Design. Although my professors and classes showed me so much more — from web design, painting, photography, drawing, etc. — graphic design and art history always came first.


2. What made you go with this decision?

As I said, I think it was a combination of things. It was my peers, being able to study abroad in Italy, talented and brilliant professors and my passion for problem-solving and visual communication.


3. How did you hear about this opportunity of becoming a graphic designer?

I actually applied at my current work right after graduation in 2014. However, they didn’t have a position open and the art director (now my boss) told me he’d hold on to my resume/portfolio. A year later, he sent me an email with an available full time design position and brought me in for an interview. I immediately knew this was going to be a great career choice, left my job at the time and started a week later.


4. How long have you been working at the company you work for now?

I have been at the church since May 2015. As much as I thought I knew graduating college, you will learn so much more when you begin working in the field. School teaches you the tools and fundamentals of the programs, but being around other designers and creative minds and producing projects under deadlines for clients will bring you experience. 


5. Have you worked as a graphic designer for another company before the one you work for now?

Yes, I interned my senior year of college at a workout facility — mainly, just fliers and social media — but it was a great start and I highly recommend finding a company or coffee shop to freelance for while you’re in school. After graduation, after I didn’t get church position, I was a designer at a branding agency in The Woodlands. It was a team of 5, so I was able to wear many hats — I was introduced to Muse, sketching, organization skills, preflighting, and how to work with strict deadlines. Six months later, I left and became a designer for a pizzeria company. It was also a small team, only 4 people, but I again learned so much because of it. We had weekly creative huddles, staged photography for ads, met with the franchisees, and I was introduced to web and packaging design. Another six months later, my current boss reached out to me, offered me the position at the church and here I am now. (Side note: It’s going to be difficult leaving a job, so do your research and ask questions during your interview. You want to be sure you’ll have opportunity to grow and that you’re comfortable in their work environment).


6. What are some of the things you create for at work?

My current position includes concept/design on graphics and promotional materials for various church ministries — including weekend worship bulletins, flyers, brochures, posters, t-shirts, monitor slides, and more. I also interact with department staff/volunteers and manage in-house production of projects, including printing, trimming, spray mount, mock-ups and installation.



7. What programs are you familiar with using for your job?

I use Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop daily


8. What is your graphic design process?

My process normally begins with looking for inspiration. For example, if I’m working on a custom look for a church camp or event, I normally review the client’s initial ideas and begin researching keywords and start looking at photos. I’ll try to go into concepting and sketching next before going straight to the computer — it doesn’t always work out that way — but I feel that’s best practice. 


9. Where do you pull your inspiration from?

You can pull inspiration from all over, but I’d say my most visited sites would be Designspiration, The Dieline, Adweek, Designspiration, Under Consideration (Brand New) and Creative Market. We use iStock and Lightstock for most stock images, so I also frequent those site too. 


10. What is your favorite part about being a graphic designer?

I want to say my favorite part is problem solving and the design process. From a beginning of a project to the end — through the copywriter, design concepts and revisions — when the client approves and the artwork is finalized, it’s a great feeling to see you work living outside of the computer. I’ll still never forget using the menu I created at the actual restaurant or seeing hundreds of kids during Vacation Bible School wear my artwork on t-shirts.


11. What qualities do you consider a successful graphic designer should have?

I’m not sure if I can speak as a “successful designer,” but I would advise to continue your education because new design trends and programs update every week. Follow other designers, sketch, be involved in some kind of professional or creative community and keep practicing. Freelance, attend a conference, watch a Lynda tutorial, etc. — just keep pushing the limits.


12. Lastly, Do you have any advice and/or tips to give someone who wants to succeed in this field of work?

I would say to do something creative every day. It’s easy to get too comfortable in your process or daily design routine, so my advice would be to step away from the computer. Sketch, cook, read a book, build something with your hands, start a blog, etc. — just have something on the side. Secondly, I’d just say to keep asking questions and learning. Mind a mentor, freelance and follow designers you aspire to be.