A Note to Our College Graduates

This past semester, our creative director Patrick Sanders was invited to teach a semester-long portfolio course for graphic design students at Santa Fe College.

The goal: Help aspiring designers better understand how to translate their raw talent and skills into a sustainable craft. So, he brought in Zack Graber and Benji Haselhurst to give a little context on how to turn graphic design into a career.

With graduation coming up for both the University of Florida and Santa Fe College, as well as colleges across the country, we wanted to share some of their wisdom with other students coming out of college.

Best of luck!

Benji Haselhurst

Web Designer, Twitter: @lazerhurst

  • Losing the fear of failure is integral to growth.
  • Look for opportunities to be critiqued. Shift your attitude to crave it, accept it, and respond to it.
  • Have the bravery it takes to try something new.
  • Be curious. It is so, so, so important. It’s what fuels us all everyday. Consequently, it helps conquer our fears.
  • Value yourself. Know when to stand up for yourself and know when to say no. Some doors may close, but other more important ones will open.
  • Learn something all the time. Use Google or read books. Just don’t stop.
  • Build a network (like StudioCo.de!).
  • Listen to your gut in both your craft and your life. It’s never wrong.
  • Everything is up for consideration. Question everything.
  • Take your work seriously. That’s the only way to be successful. If you take this seriously, others will too.
  • Be passionate.
  • Be honest.
  • Persevere.
  • Keep making stuff.

Zack Graber

Art Director, Instagram: @zacharyjgraber

  • Find your passion and practice nonstop.
  • Doing awesome work for boring clients is better than boring work for awesome clients.
  • Sometimes you have to be your own client to develop your skills.
  • You’re a designer. Design everything you send out.
  • Take time to think away from the computer.
  • This career doesn’t get easier, but it does become more rewarding.
  • Learn how to talk about your work. Communicating the reasons behind your choices could be the difference between one revision or ten revisions.
  • Find work you like and rip it off. Never for a client or for your portfolio, but for practice. Recreating effective design helps build your intuition.
  • You aren’t hired to make pretty things. You’re hired to make smart, creative, solutions. Aesthetics are a by-product.
  • If your skills don’t match your taste, don’t give up. Practice until they do.

Patrick Sanders

Creative Director, Twitter: @psanders3001

  • Know the landscape. School teaches you skills, methods and opportunities to exercise and get critiques. But, it’s your responsibility to enact these in a way that makes sense.
  • Be intensely curious.
  • Fear is not a bad thing. But once you abandon fear of failure or fear of incompetence, two things happen: You start to have more fun, and you start to create solutions.
  • A great portfolio tells a story about you. It isn’t a place to just dump your work.
  • Communication is critical to your growth. Everything you will ever design requires you to defend it with a client and to your peers (even if they love it). You have to know how to effectively communicate about all of your decisions. They want to be educated. That’s why they invest money and time with you.
  • In the same vein, you are part of a service industry. Every rule associated with customer service is a necessary for us as creatives. Be kind, be polite, and be informed. When dealing with peers and clients, be warm in your communications. It goes a long way.
  • The probability of you getting a face-to-face interview without having your portfolio seen first is rare. Your portfolio needs to be thought of as an experience. Don’t leave anything left to the imagination and don’t expect your audience to infer or assume anything.
  • Begin with passion. Research and exercise help you gain knowledge. Knowledge earns you confidence, and confidence earns you experience. They’re all connected.
  • Your portfolio should expose your process. The world wants to see the way you think about challenges. It isn’t as concerned with the end result as it is with your process. The end result often reflects your experience, but your process reveals your potential.

Want to talk more about these? Give us a call or tweet us. We’d love to have you over for lunch!

Originally published at beta.parisleaf.com.

Like what you read? Give Parisleaf a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.