Answers to a Design Student’s Questions

We often get emails from students around the country who are interested in what we do and interested in joining the Graphic Designer ranks. We do our best to reply to them and give them as much insight into our field as possible. A visual communications student from Cazenovia College in Central New York emailed us recently asking the below questions. We thought we’d share our Art Director’s answers to her inquiries, which form a quick snapshot of our life as designers and creators.

What do you most enjoy about this industry?

There are so many things that I enjoy about this industry, and my love for it really has no limits. I feel so fortunate to work in a field that is really fun, so innovative and that is EVERYWHERE. Design is everything and it has made me see the world in a totally different way. At Marstudio, I oversee all of our company’s social media and it’s one of my favorite parts of the job. I love spending time hunting for, enjoying and sharing great design. Designers all over the world are doing such incredible work and design is a field that constantly changes and improves (and tops itself). I love to come up with ideas and really become enthralled in a project. The “before and after” effect is particularly satisfying for me and the process never fails to leave me in awe. It is such an exciting job with so many interesting aspects. But I’d have to say that what I enjoy most is the ability to create something from nothing, and to be able to share my work (and the work of others) on a large scale.

What do you do in a typical day or week?

Our week usually starts with answering emails and sorting out the priorities for the week. Then we have a weekly Monday afternoon meeting where we get together as a company to discuss individual projects and share our concerns or progress. In any given day, I might work on a single project or several, depending on the deadlines for each and their scope. I block out portions of my day to post on our social media sites and respond to any comments we may get. Most of my time is spent at my desk in our beautiful, modern studio. It’s a comfortable yet relaxed environment with a lot of laughter mixed with some serious elbow grease and a hard work ethic. Typically we may have a few client meetings scattered throughout the week but mostly we’re cranking away on our computers. I’m usually listening to Spotify while I’m working, thinking, designing, strategizing, brainstorming, collaborating, re-working, re-thinking, researching and eating carrots.

What skills are most critical to your success?

The Adobe Creative Suite, for sure. We use Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign on a daily basis and they are basically extensions of our hands. Knowing these programs inside and out (and being quick and efficient with them) is absolutely necessary in today’s design world. Our Development Director is fluent in coding languages like JQuery, CSS, HTML, JavaScript, and PHP. As needed, we use Dreamweaver, FinalCutPro, AfterEffects and Aperture. But being a designer, I think the most important skill you should have is to develop your own process. It takes time to learn how your own creativity operates but everyone has a slightly different way of working and different methods of getting projects done.

What are the most valuable skills in your job?

This is very similar to the question above, but in my specific job, by far the most important skill is time management. We work with many different clients and their success is very important to us. We have a ton to do each day so being able to prioritize and place time limits on myself is really critical (and it’s something I need to get better at). I also write a surprising number of emails and it is extremely important to be a good communicator and be able to convey ideas or questions effectively. We work with people everyday—whether they’re clients, people walking in off the street, potential clients, or each other—and we must have excellent “people skills” and listening skills. And finally, organization. Staying organized is essential, especially when working with multiple projects. We have an extensive organizational system called the Xtranet that helps us keep all our clients’ emails, files, communication, and to-do lists organized.

What are the common misconceptions about working in this field?

I’m not sure why, but in general, I think people have a hard time seeing the true value of design. Designing is extremely difficult and it takes so much creative power. When you see a “simple” logo, it’s hard to imagine why it took so long to create. The truth is that the very best design makes you think “Why didn’t I think of that?!” and makes it look easy. But it wasn’t!

Is there anything else you think would be helpful as I consider this field?

If you move around your world and are distracted by design, and you notice the font before you read the word written in it, then you should be a designer. If you pick up a magazine and analyze the quality of its printing before you browse the content, you should be a designer. If you comb the internet for inspiration and you get excessively excited when a design catches your eye, this is the right field for you. If your family and friends are sick of you talking incessantly about your projects, or trying to educate them on the difference between CMYK and RGB, or starting sentences with “As a designer, I think that….”, you should totally be a designer. As long as you have an honest passion for it and you love what you do, then the rest will fall into place.

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