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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

Oct 27, 2010

Three Keys to Landing that Internship

By On 16:23
1. Network 
Get to know your professors. Whether it’s a visit during office hours to discuss coursework or an impromptu cup of coffee before class, take the time to know the man or woman who’s teaching you. This is the person who may write you a stellar recommendation next semester.  

In my undergrad program, we had several professors who had real world projects that kept them busy when not in the classroom. My friend and on-campus co-worker, David was asked to assist with a summer book design by one professor who got to know him in class and liked his attitude and work ethic–even though his software skills were lacking. 

2. Initiative 
When you find an internship that interests you, send a resume and cover letter immediately. Waiting weeks means that the hiring manager will see many more applications that just yours, and you don’t want to miss an unstated deadline. Be sure to include the name of the person doing the hiring for this position, “to whom it may concern” has always been an unacceptable greeting!   
Follow up after a week with a short note by email or a phone call to check on your application status. It’s not pushy and employers appreciate it when applicants take initiative.

3. Portfolio
Do you have a portfolio? If you’re just starting out, your body of work may be slim—but the truth is, three design pieces are better than none. Make the three pieces flawless and be sure to include a link to your samples in your resume or cover letter. Employers seeking a graphic design intern want to know that you have the basic skills to do the job.  Omitting your samples in the application means that your paperwork gets recycled instead of reviewed.

When you land the interview, show up with your pieces mounted and be sure to speak knowledgeably about the design principles used in each project. My first portfolio was slender. I think I had five pieces, and one of those was my personal identity package—seriously. Among the pieces I included were: 
  • a typography assignment from school that was particularly successful (thanks Bert Smith) 
  • an identity package from a freelance client
  • and two posters from my poster design class
 Although the pieces were few, I could speak intelligently about every design decision that I made in creating them. I knew that the baseline shift in my typography exercise created visual interest and movement, and that the bolded text and placement helped to create hierarchy and give color to the black and white page.
This is what you must do in today’s competitive design world.

 “Take Initiative” was Adapted from American University AUpedia 

Three Weeks Mac-less

By On 08:20
The default browser is Google Chrome. I know that I should’ve tried this out a year ago, but I just wasn’t thinking. Chrome auto-populates as you type, and when you hit enter, you’re there baby (just like Safari, actually)! It took me a while to figure out how to get my bookmarks in there, but I’m on a roll now.

The first problem I've encountered is this; I've been spoiled by the Fetch FTP Client! The GUI is simple intuitive and easy to use, period.  On day one of getting my Vaio, I downloaded Filezilla and got the shock of my life. Where the hell are the "Get" and "Put" buttons, dammit! I ended up having to use my MacBook to plop a new site onto my ftp just so I can work directly from the server.  
From now on, I'll have to do the one thing that I always advise others to do when working with unfamiliar software, RTFM.

Today’s my 2nd day telecommuting on the Vaio, wish me luck.

Oct 25, 2010

A Virtual Color Index, Only Better

By On 05:50
If you’re like me, you’ve got an ever-growing list of resources that help you as a designer.  My  list gets longer by the week. One item that's been in my top 10 for years is COLOUR Lovers.com. This online community is a place to share colors, color palettes and patters, and discuss color trends and get inspiration.

If you haven’t bookmarked this one yet, do it.


Oct 18, 2010

Two Weeks Mac-less

By On 09:57

The new laptop is a Sony Vaio with CS5 and the newest version of MS Office. I’ve been on a quest for an Apple-free existence since the springtime customer service cock-up when I tried to:  
  • Buy a new Mac desktop  
  • Replace the new desktop that arrived at my house cracked 
  • Cancel the replacement 
  • Get my money back (after over a month with no computer) 
The customer service experience was terrible. Based on weeks of being treated like garbage while attempting to spend thousands of dollars, I chose to move away from Apple. I opted for a Sony machine. 

In undergrad, I was surprised to learn that while we graphic design students swore by Apple Macbooks and Imacs, the game design students all programmed on Vaios. The high-end professional machines are sleek, light and fast as shit! Picking the Sony brand was a no brainer for me. 

When my F-series laptop showed up I had no idea how to work the damn thing. All I knew was that I’d need a bigger briefcase to accommodate the larger screen. In older Windows machines, font management was not intuitive; I had to suppress my initial freak out when I went looking for fonts in the "Control Panel". I probably shouldn’t have freaked out. Font management is much simpler, and there are previews like with Fontbook. 

Granted I haven’t opened MS Office on it yet--but the commercials on Hulu all claim it's awesome, functional and intuitive--we'll see.  I will make another update when it’s been a month.

Oct 15, 2010

Packaging Redesign at Giant Foods

By On 18:02
This is my new favorite breakfast cereal. It's a knock off of a more expensive brand, and it's healthy as hell!! I started eating fiber select 3 weeks ago after picking up two boxes of the stuff on my bi-weekly grocery run.  
Here's the box: 

When I went back to my local Giant  for my 2nd pair of boxes, I was surprised to find the package fundamentally different.

It took a little while for me to note which was the newest design because I purchased them out of order (and I had completely forgotten about the new branding/logo that Giant and Super Fresh recently undertaken).  This is the box from my second grocery run:

I scrutinized both boxes for a long time and came up with the short list of essential differences. The redesign has several things that the original do not have:
  • off-center placement of logo
  • a background on which the cereal bowl rests - giving it some context
  • quantifiable nutritional information on the lower third of front panel
  • active writing  on the back panel
  • tilted orientation and splashy milk to simulate movement
  • title case for the headings instead of all-caps
  • less fruit
  • a closer resemblance to the brand that Giant's copying
It was an interesting experiment to review the box designs. I even took the images over to another designer's house and made her go through the exercise with me.  The majority of the changes made a lot of sense to me. One still niggles at me though. The move from more fruit to less - my thought is that they want to showcase the healthy twigs of bran and leave them in the forefront, but I just can't be sure.

Maybe next week I'll try to contact their art department to find out; I won't be able to sleep well until I get some answers.

-cheers y'all

Worst Interview Ever!

By On 17:29
Bad job interviews happen. Sometimes it's the interviewee's fault, sometimes there just isn't a good fit, and sometimes the forces of nature conspire against a positive outcome. Whatever the reason, bad interviews happen. Look, here comes one now.

This past summer--also known as the hottest summer on record--my buddy Lisa* went on her first job 
interview in over three years. The night before her appointment, she picked up a new pair of shoes to complete her interview ensemble. Little did she know that this purchase was to be her undoing.

The appointment took place on the Johns Hopkins campus. Her first stop was the Human Resources department, where she met the director and learned more about the position. The second stop was to be held across campus, with the department head and her potential, future boss.

The day began with a mad dash for public transport, followed by a painful walk to HR--the new shoes were binding, pinching, and burning. During the first Q &Q session, Lisa's feet howled in pain. When the meeting was over she felt down by the heel that burned the most and drew back fingers coated in blood. The too-small shoes had rubbed her feet raw and--before her actual 
interview was even under way--she was already wounded. Before her 2nd trek across campus, Lisa stopped at an on-site pharmacy and bought a box of plastic bandages to cushion the friction and staunch the flow of blood. This was pointless because the humid atmosphere made it impossible for the cushioning to stick to her feet and the high heat made her feet swell; further exacerbating the problem.

By the time she got to the main 
interview, she was consumed with worry and physical pain. She half answered questions and was uncahacteristically laconic. When it was over, Lisa walked out, removed her shoes and headed for the bus. Needless to say, there was no second interview and no job offer was made.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent