On June 25th 2017, I won first place in the National Advertising Design competition for Skills USA in Louisville, Kentucky. I competed against 19 other contestants who, like me, had all won first place in their respective state competitions.
We were given 6 hours for the creative portion to design a logo, a product hangtag, a coffee cup sleeve, and an informational card for a fictitious company. In addition, we were required to create 5 color thumbnails of each piece and came up with the sayings on the material based on given specifications.
Although we had no internet access, we were given an informational packet on the fictitious company as well as information about the plight of the bees. I based my logo on the following information provided in our packet, "When bees are exposed to pesticides like neonicotinoids, they go insane and don't know how to return home. It's almost as if they are given a form of Alzheimer's." The logo illustrates the bee having a hard time finding its way home.
Afterward, we were given 2 hours to complete the mechanical portion of the competition, which was to recreate a 2 page magazine layout (pictured in the gallery above) as exactly as we could from given specifications.
The national competition was much more difficult than the state competition. We had less time, and a LOT more to do, but as I told as I told Edward Herzberg of The Clarion newspaper in an interview, it was an amazing and very rewarding experience. I was one of three students from Madison College to place (though some people were so very very close to placing too!), and I was the only one to win first. Louisville was lots of fun, and my experience with all of the people from all around the country was an experience I'll never forget!
Design Like Mad is an organization that hosts a yearly event which pairs graphic designers, web designers, programmers, etc. with local non-profits to create one-time projects in a day. Volunteers participate in a design marathon - we arrived at 9am and left at 9pm; in that time volunteers worked on projects for the nonprofit they were paired with. In 2017, I was paired with Sustain Dane to create materials for their conference that took place on November 29th, 2017 .
My team (Kelly and Henrique) and I worked to make them a logo, three large banners, an attendee booklet, and social media material for their Badger Bioneers event that happens every year. This years theme was Human(ity), and the conference examined "the duality of celebrating our diversity while deepening our connections." I did the posters, and I helped with the logo, in addition to helping select typefaces and creating the mockups above for our short presentation.
The Deep End Design Podcast is a Graphic Design Podcast by Wes McDowell, and various hosts, most of whom are creative directors or owners at graphic design firms. With over one hundred episodes, The Deeply Graphic Design Cast is a great source of information for graphic and web designers, and people that want to get started in in the field with episodes that feature tips on creating a resume, improving workflow, and creating or improving online portfolios. I've found a lot of the things they talk about to be both very informative and interesting to listen to. They talk about things that people don't learn when they go to school for graphic design such as in their episode "Moonlighting By Design," and that your portfolio should speak to your clients interest, and talk about how it will solve their problem (Client Focused Portfolio Websites), even though your not designing for them, you're designing for your client's clients (Reality Checking Your Freelance Design Work).
In the episode "Reality Checking Your Freelance Design Work", they recommend creating customer personas that are "an amalgamation of all the people that are [the client's] number one customer. Give that person a name, give them a job, give them age, hobbies... even get a photo to go with," which I thought was a good idea to keep a design project on track, Losing track of the focus was something that the hosts admit to having done before, and if they've done it before, it can happen to anyone.
Their series has so many preventative measures, it reminds me of Eleanor Roosevelt's quote, "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself." The episodes on client contracts are particularly useful in this, as many graphic designers make the mistake of not having thorough enough contracts (even though AIGA has templates for graphic designer contracts), which can lead to big problems. This is definitely a great podcast for working designers and design students to learn more about their field, which can be listened to by downloading the podcasts or checking out the audio on their website.
I recently started watching a video series called Like Knows Like, an amazing series about popular designers and artists where they talk about their career and how they got to where they are. One of my favorites was James Victore. He's not insanely talented at illustration like some of the others (*cough* Victo Ngai *cough*), but he has some very clever pieces that get to the point in a very direct way that perfectly fits his style.
Not only do the designers and artists talk about their work, they also talk about their lives, what inspires them, their friends and family, and their hopes for their work in the future. It's a very honest look at different artists, and more than one questions whether or not they'll be doing what they do into old age.
Unfortunately, Like Knows Like hasn't been updating their YouTube, but they're still making videos, which they share on their Facebook. Their next video is set to come out in 2017, and features Oliver Jeffers.
On April 23, 2016 I had the opportunity to participate in Design Like Mad of Madison, Wi. Design Like Mad is an organization that hosts 12-hour design marathons to connect design students and professional designers with local non-profits.
We arrived at the Madison Public Library at nine in the morning, and left at nine at night. Thanks to their sponsors, we had doughnuts and coffee waiting for us as well as Ian's pizza later in the day (I was quick to snag myself a slice with macaroni and cheese). My team, Chris (Owner of Drawski), Maggie (a design student), and I worked with Jill (right) a representative from Operation Fresh Start to come up with advertising materials for their Building Futures campaign, which will help them serve twice as many at-risk youth by renovating a church to be their new base of operations.
Each team member had their own assignment: I created the posters, Matt made the infographics, and Maggie did the mailers. Design Like Mad was an amazing experience, and working with other designers collaboratively, in real time, was something I'd never experienced before. It was the most fun I'd ever had designing! There were some challenges though, such as the images that Operation Fresh Start provided. Some of them were too small for print, and most of them were taken with cell phones, so we worked with the best ones we could pick out. In addition, the computer I was provided wouldn't run Adobe Photoshop. Fortunately, I'd used GIMP before, and knew I would be able to use it instead. It all worked out, though because we got everything done on time, even though we ended up sending off the final products in the following days, as did most of the other teams.
Design Like Mad is a great community organization I'm happy to have in Madison. Many nonprofits have benefited from the help, and quite of few of the designers form lasting relationships with the nonprofits and their team mates. If you want to participate in Design Like Mad, see if they're in your city. If not, bring them to you! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to see about starting an event near you.
See all the Design Like Mad 2016 Projects.
Skills USA is an organization for students pursuing technical and vocational careers. From Automotive Technology to Cosmetology, they have events for everyone. Skills USA has district, regional, state, and national competitions in many competitions including Advertising Design, my competition. During my senior year in high school, I competed in three advertising design competitions, the first of which was at Oregon High School, the second was at UW Stout, and the third was the long awaited Wisconsin State competition in Madison at the Alliant Energy Center. We arrived early in the morning, different competitions were held at different times, I took the opportunity to get everything ready, opening up my computer and checking that the school had installed the programs I would need. When the time came to compete, we started by taking a written test, and soon moved on to sketching out ideas. I came up with a page or so worth of rough ideas, eventually focusing in on one of them, later assigning color, and typeface. The next day, we arrived for the awards ceremony, and I placed second in Advertising Design, scoring 95% in creativity (See the final product on my Branding page).