Recently I had the opportunity to give back. It is very important as a professional in the sports industry (or what I call a 9-to-5 Athlete) to give back to your community and if unable to at least give advice when asked. A student from Defiance College, a co-educational liberal arts college, reached out to me asking for advice on how to break into the industry as a Graphic Designer. Below you will find our email correspondence for you to review.
I grew up in Houston, Texas but relocated out [Columbus, Ohio] here from Dallas, Texas. Additional background information can be recovered from www.quintonwash.com
Currently on the job my task surrounds three main points follow up, design, and deliver. My follow up task is exactly what it sounds like I follow up with the person who originally submitted the project and make sure all the information is in. My design task is simply designing the project and making sure that it meets the branding standards of the organization as a whole. The delivery task may be last but may be considered the hardest part of the process. Here I go back and forth between delivering the design to the vendor for print/build while following up with the client to make sure things like payment went through or the vendor followed through on the job. With additional duties and details this as simple as I can get it without writing a book
My success can be pulled from my resume on my personal site but I will name a few here to save time. I was interviewed and had my picture taken in Black Enterprise Magazine, featured in Adobe Layers Magazine, and received Second in the Nation at CoSIDA for a Baseball Media Guide I designed.
Start early and make mistakes. Mistakes are the best learning tool and the only way to learn is to design projects outside of the classroom. If that means freelance then do so because in the end the end user is who you will be designing for not the teacher. Also, keep in mind that you’re delivering the finished product to the client but the product is meant for the audience the client is trying to capture, make sure the client has an understanding of what they’re looking for in relation to capturing their target audience or go out and get the clear understanding for yourself.
The biggest challenge is hardware. As time goes on your computer will get slower. That’s how computers are, so one day you get to your desk and you need to pump a project out in 5 minutes then your mind, eyes, and hands start moving faster than the computer mouse will move. Another hardship is the client, if you don’t know how to be proactive or control your client they will run over you so make sure you know how to manage people just as well as you know how to manage your workload.
Honestly I like doing things that a lot of people really can’t do, there is value in that and to see them smile after I deliver the product to them is rewarding. The money isn’t too bad when you have student loans and little things like rent, life, etc. My job provides perks like going to games and I’ve met a lot of people in the sports world that have become my friends so it’s cool when you add that up.
Get real world experience through freelance or an internships. I’ve interviewed people for internships and a full-time position and a lot of people’s work that I’ve seen aren’t any good because they were school projects. Design is about combining design theory with technical software knowledge to deliver a product to a well managed client for his/her audience, NOT a teacher.