Connie is a graphic designer currently living in NYC, and is one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. She designed this blog for me, and I honestly have no idea what I would’ve done without her. Here we chat about all things graphic design! You can find her on Instagram @__zon__ and her design site.
How did you get into graphic design?
I have always been obsessed with graphics and visuals. I also like making things. Growing up, I was the type to be fascinated by movie posters, album covers, magazines, pictures, etc. I never thought this interest was significant or could potentially be a career, so I brushed it off as a hobby. You hear the term “starving artist” and it drives you towards the more “practical” career routes. I went to business school for my undergrad and worked in finance before I finally decided to seriously pursue graphic design. From those experiences, I realized that creativity is a passion of mine that provides value and purpose to my life. I was lucky enough to be at the right time in my life, so I went for it and moved to NYC!
What school did you attend & what was the application process like?
I just finished the AAS program at Parsons School of Design at The New School. The AAS program is great because it’s an accelerated program for people with Bachelor’s degrees unrelated to design looking for a career change. The application process was pretty straightforward and mainly involved three things: resume, statement of intent, and a submission in response to a creative prompt. The creative prompt was to design a postage stamp featuring your favorite fruit or vegetable. At the time, I had no idea how to work Photoshop, so that was definitely the most challenging part. My friend Maddie taught me Photoshop basics over FaceTime, thankfully, and I put something together.
Benefits of going to college for graphic design?
Initially, I was debating between teaching myself (through books and online courses) and getting a formalized education. Teaching yourself is less expensive, lets you control the pace, and can be less of a time commitment. That’s a great option with people with a lot of discipline, but I know that for me personally, I get my motivation from other people and I need structure when I’m learning. Parsons definitely pushed me in the best way, and there’s no way I could’ve gotten to this level on my own. Also in retrospect, I realize how invaluable that in-person education experience is, especially for something like design.
Dream company/person to work for?
I would love to work for Virgil Abloh, any of my favorite musical artists (like The Weeknd), or Patriot Act (on Netflix).
How do you pick which projects you take on/ is there an area you specialize in?
I’m really open to all sorts of projects because I like the challenge of designing for different formats and mediums. At Parsons, I designed projects ranging from books to shirts to apps for your iPhone. Design exists in so many different forms and I want to push myself to go beyond just graphics, which is why I’m open to taking on things that I don’t necessarily specialize in. I’ve worked on a variety of projects for my friends, and they’ve been great opportunities to learn and collaborate. Although I wouldn’t say I specialize in a specific area, I love designing for physical objects (posters, books, packaging, apparel, etc). Something about tangible design is really awesome to me.
Advice for someone who is interested in making graphic design their career?
These are my tips:
- Connect with any designers in your network. Every person you talk to is going to have a unique background and experience, but it’s always helpful to get first-hand perspective. It also helps you develop your own understanding of what graphic design is.
- Assess which route you are wanting to go in terms of education– teaching yourself or getting a formalized education. If you need to work at the same time, research online programs or night courses at a school near you. If you decide to go to school full-time, research different programs and their application processes. This can be really time consuming, so block off a good amount of time to research and even more time to work on your application(s).
- Don’t procrastinate on switching careers. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of putting things off and postponing for the future, but there will always be some excuse not to start. Switching careers can be scary and intimidating, but if it’s your dream, isn’t it scarier to not do it?
- Once you’re at school, go as hard as you can. Design school was exhausting, but I loved every minute of it. Going above and beyond will only benefit you. Take advantage of the resources at the school and take fun classes that inspire you.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do once we’re out of quarantine?
I’m going to a group fitness class and then to dinner with friends at either a sushi or Italian restaurant. Carbs just hit different at the restaurant.