It’s never too early to start planning for summer. Especially when you’re determining what summer camps to place your child in. For Cobb and surrounding areas there are a variety of camps to choose from, but if it’s a unique experience you’re seeking then consider enrolling your child in Summer University.
One of our newest camps scheduled this summer focuses on graphic design and is being taught by David Wright. David is a well-seasoned graphic design professional who has worked in various creative roles throughout his career and has produced work for some the world’s largest companies — IBM, RJR Nabisco and Goldman Sachs to name a few. He has also handled projects for Barnum & Baily Circus and ESPN.
David has won various national and international awards for his work, and most recently was commissioned by the University to create a portrait of the schools “live” owl mascot as David is also an accomplished wildlife artist which is why he was tapped to handle the portrait for the University.
We recently caught up with David to discuss his experiences in the graphic design industry and his approach as an instructor.
How long have you been instructing?
I’ve been providing private instruction for about 3 ½ years both in graphic design and the fine arts. However, I have more than 30 years of experience in the graphic arts industry.
What do you enjoy most about instructing young people?
I’ve always enjoyed working with the young people and helping them come along and start developing their skills from that academic understanding of the business to the professional requirements of getting the job done.
What I’ve always enjoyed from working with young people is I’ve always found it to be a give-and-take situation. I can teach them about graphic design and teach them to improve their skills, but they always keep me connected, fresh, and in touch with what’s happening now.
How did you get your start?
While I was in high school, I was thinking about going into architecture and I really didn’t take any art classes or have any formal training. However, I was the guy when they had a school function would come to design a poster or put together an illustration.
Well, I was sitting in civics class as a senior and one of the administrators comes down to my class and said, “You’ve just won a full ride art scholarship to Indiana State University.” At that point, I thought I would study advertising, marketing, and graphic design as an undergraduate and go back and get a graduate degree in architecture.
Before I got out of school, I was already freelancing and had people buying my work. Really enjoying the graphic design side, I went into advertising and never looked back.
What does it take to be a graphic designer?
Students most have an inherent curiosity, a desire to learn, pay attention to detail, and the ability to think outside the box. Physically, they need an Apple computer, Adobe Suite software, a good size monitor, a healthy typography library, and access to good stock images. And one thing I stress to students is to have these days is a current trade publications library for referencing.
When you get a trade creativity magazine you start to figure out what makes a good design and what makes a not-so-good design. Having your finger on the pulse of trends and what kind of design changes and color palettes are popular allows you to stay fresh and relevant.
What type of opportunities are out there for graphic designers?
All the standard ones are still there — print, collateral, branding — your small and large ad agencies. Today, you have to add all the electronic media to the scope as well — social media, web design and interactive.
For a young designer, I would say getting involved in the small to mid-size ad agencies would be the best opportunity — it’s a great place to learn and a great place to meet other designers and get your feet wet. Usually, if you start in too big of an ad agency right off the bat, you really don’t get any opportunity to be involved in any of the big and meaningful projects. If you’re in a smaller setting you’ll be exposed to larger projects which will help you grow tremendously as a designer.
Freelancing. Advantages and disadvantages, according to David.
Advantages: Higher hourly pay rate, schedules are more flexible, you also have some control of the type of work you’d like to pursue.
Freelancing gives you the opportunity to do some real professional jobs, gain some real professional experience and it allows you to make contacts within the industry.
You may do a job for a company and if they like what you do for them then it gives you a job opportunity with and you can move into a full-time position.
Disadvantages: No steady income. You’ve got to take on all the benefits and all the business aspects yourself and sometimes it’s very difficult to get paid — every freelancer is going to run into those handful of clients that will not pay at all or on time.
The biggest disadvantage is the isolation from other creative people. For a young person, it’s very important to get out there.
Biggest mistake of a young designer?
Design is a commercial art form. You’re trying to communicate a targeted message to a targeted audience to sell a product to make money, but young designers get caught up in filters and effects. The message gets lost and all the design ends up being is a montage of super cool effects with very little targeted message and does not represent the product well.
One the most common mistakes a young designer makes is forgetting the fact that this is a commercial art form and it’s the business of making money through the effective visual communication to the targeted audience.
What is your approach to instructing graphic design students?
First, I want them to understand what graphic design is about the fact that it is a business.
Second, how versed the business is and how many career opportunities are out there.
Third, understand the basic elements of graphic.
- STUDY — What are the professional global designers doing?
- APPLY — Get the students involved in a hands on project/s.
- EXAMINE — Critique the project and examine the end result.