Design and Art

Visual art and design topics, reviews, articles and random posts on art and design related issues.

So You Want To Work For Me, or Someone Else For That Matter

Recently I have been in a position to hire a new Experiential Graphic Designer for my department, and while the title sounds very focused the job requirements are slightly broader than the name implies. A detailed job description was posted in all of the major outlets, and the link to the localized description on my employer’s site was linked to via a handful of social media sites by myself and other employees. The word went out and we received just under 100 potential applicants. Let me rephrase that. We received just under 100 applicants. Not that many were even close to being potential for several reasons. Lack of experience, a complete misunderstanding of what the job is, a portfolio that demonstrated little to no skills required for the position, the complete lack of a link to any design work in either the resume or cover letter.

Perhaps it’s where I am at in my career, and the fact that I have applied for so many jobs over the years but I have a word of advice for not only those just starting out as well as those with experience under your belt. READ THE JOB DESCRIPTION, and after reading it ask yourself, “Am I really qualified for this position?” before submitting your application. Then take a step back, look at your design portfolio and ask yourself the following questions. “Does my portfolio reflect the kind of work I’ll be asked to perform?”, “Do I need to edit my portfolio, or add to it?” The reason I say this is that it felt like the majority that applied for my open position did not. Almost half of the applicants for the designer position that I posted lacked the required experience, and software skills, or showed a portfolio that was completely off track for the job at hand.

I was looking for a designer with at least 3 to 5 years under their belt. The ability to use more than InDesign with a level of proficiency. I wasn’t looking for were photographers, illustrators, 3D animators, videographers, or stationary designers. And yet I saw so many portfolios that fit that bill. Look I’m not knocking anyone’s talent. What I am saying is, if you are going to apply for a job, why waste your time or the person hiring if you and your skills don’t match.

Out of the 75 plus resumes and portfolios I looked through, more than a third of them were illustrators, and photographers claiming to have solid environmental graphic design skills, wayfinding design chops, publication layout skills, and more, but their portfolios didn’t reflect it in any way shape or form. In many cases, they showed absolutely nothing or little that would be considered graphic design, experiential design, or environmental design at all.

So, here are some things you might want to consider when you are applying for a design job.

Read the job description. Read it and then look up the organization that is hiring. Ask yourself honestly, am I qualified for this position? Am I overqualified for this position? Do my skills match what the job description is asking for? Will my current skills translate to the requirements they are asking me to fulfill? Don’t just skim the posting and fire off your resume and cover letter thinking that the hiring manager isn’t going to look at your background, your portfolio, and your experience.

Before submitting your resume and cover letter, make sure there is a link to your portfolio in it. If you are submitting a PDF of your resume, include an active link to your portfolio in the PDF. If there is no link to a portfolio in your resume or cover letter I immediately pass. If there is a URL and it isn’t an active link I hesitate. Most people reviewing want to click and go. Make it easy for the people hiring to get to examples of your work. No QR codes, no files to download, nothing that requires me to request permission to view. Things like QR codes might seem clever, but unless you are designing mobile apps and applying for a UI/UX design position most people don’t want to look at your graphic design portfolio on a small phone screen. Downloads and permissions are nothing more than a roadblock between the hiring manager and your work.

Look at the required software skills and do an honest assessment of yours. Are you an expert in every application in the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite? Seriously, are you? I had so many applicants grading themselves as experts in Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, After Effects, Audition, and XD it made my head spin. Knowing how to use an app and being an expert in it are two different things. I’d rather talk to someone that is truly an expert in one or two apps and is willing to learn others than someone that claims to be an expert in all and is a master of none.

Don’t include your assessments from job sites like Indeed and GlassDoor. You might have taken an online skills test and scored expert or highly proficient in verbal communications, work style, workplace safety, or something else but it means very little, at least to me. These are things I’ll find out when I interview you for the position, and they will not sway me to consider you for the job when listed on your resume. Here is a reality. Those skills tests are geared to the lowest common denominator. Why? Because Glassdoor, InDeed, LinkedIn, and the like make money from placing candidates. Those assessments are a tool that benefits them more than you.

Take a long hard look at your portfolio. If you have everything you have ever made in the last 5 to 10 years it’s too much. Learn to edit. If you are just starting out and your portfolio only shows 5 or 6 projects consider adding more – yes even more student work if it is quality work. You want to show a variety of work that demonstrates you know how to use more than one creative program. Some people list the tools used to create their work. That’s fine, it gives an insight into your toolkit and if you make it to the interview round, it gives the interviewers something to ask you about. Add descriptions. Not just what the project was about and the problem you solved, but how you interacted with a team to achieve the end result and the possible return on investment from the solution you provided. Did you work with a copywriter? Did you lead a team? Did you work with someone writing code to help realize your vision? Was the project multi-faceted, and if so how did you solve for multiple formats and deliverables?

Finally, you might be the best painter of dragons, robots, aliens, monsters, and Vikings in the world, but that doesn’t make you a graphic designer. You might be the best painter in the world of robot aliens fighting Viking dragons, pulling a chariot of imps on their way to a Game of Thrones rally at the local Holiday Inn, but that doesn’t mean you are a graphic designer. If the job description calls for design skills and you submit something completely off base, you’ve wasted not only your time but the time of the person looking to hire. If your passion lies outside the job offering, then pursue your passion and be happy. Life’s too short.

By the way, I really did see a bunch of dragons fighting Viking like people and robots. Aliens too. And Fairies.

Creativity Explained

When I started my career in design, everything was done by hand. It was essentially analog except for the individuals that were setting type on very rudimentary computers that were dedicated to doing that one thing – setting and outputting type that was specified by the designer and then pasted up to be photographed on a stat-camera.

In addition to that, I would also be asked to rub down “Letraset” type from large alphabet sheets, setting headlines or other display items by hand. It was slow, tedious, work that required concentration and patience. You learned a lot about typography because Letraset was expensive, you had limited character counts, and undo was removing anything you screwed up with masking tape and starting over. If you want to know more about all of this I recommend watching “Graphic Means“.

When Adobe first hit the graphic design world with Postscript fonts for use in programs like “Illustrator 88“, (yes, that’s the original name because it was introduced in 1988. The link takes you to a very informative video from 1988 if you want to engage in Throwback Thursday) it caused a seismic shift in the industry. Suddenly graphic designers not only had greater control over the creative process with access to hundreds of fonts and greater control over how it was laid out on the page. By the way, I’ve been using Adobe products since 1988 and much has changed since the dawn of the computer graphics revolution. One thing hasn’t though, and that would be creative inspiration, and creativity itself.

Recently Adobe has launched a new section of their Creative Cloud website that focuses specifically on that very topic – creativity. Creativity Explained is a new series to guide you through the basics of art and design with the first section focusing on what else, typography. There are six articles including an interview with German designer Eric Spikermann. (the guy speaking in the video above). Some of the articles are pretty fundamental but still worth reading and informative. It’ll be interesting to see where Adobe takes this site, and whether or not they introduce more advanced content and concepts moving forward.

Taken – David Bowie by Duffy

I’m a sort of fan of David Bowie. When he’s on, he’s on, when he’s off he’s off. I’m fascinated by his chameleon ability to change personality on a dime and change up musical genres and style at the drop of a hat. He was a true artist that transcended definition and refused to be pigeonholed into a single category. Not only that he was able to continue to be an influence across decades of activity. Not all of his music did it for me, but I have to admit there are certain tracks that will always be in rotation on one of my playlists.

A new touring exhibition documenting the collaboration of David Bowie and English photographer Brian Duffy over a five-album period (from 1972 to 1980) becomes all the more intriguing with this promo by Scottish motion director Chris Bain. The trailer does an excellent job of capturing what is in the exhibition, David Bowie’s transition over time from Ziggy Star Dust to the Thin White Duke, and all points in between. Nice motion graphics and animations paired with photographs from the exhibit combine to create a trailer that gives just enough insight to grab your attention without revealing too much of the show itself. Audio is provided by Box of Toys and gives a solid nod to Bowie’s musical style during the period without being overpowering.

Created for Nomad Exhibitions, Bain has done an excellent job of setting up the exhibition and capturing the mood of the period.

“The trailer celebrates two of the 20th century’s most celebrated creative minds. Five iconic photography sessions, across a period, often referred to as Bowie’s golden years – Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Thin White Duke, Lodger, and Scary Monsters.

“The exhibition presented by Nomad Exhibitions in partnership with the Duffy Archive and curated by Paul Morley, will bring to life Bowie and Duffy’s legendary creative process through interviews, music, film, artifacts, photography and also include innovative multimedia displays and immersive projection.”

Art Direction & Animation: Chris Bain Design
Client: Nomad Exhibitions
Music & Sound Design: Box of Toys Audio


 

FutureDeluxe for Nespresso

Mcann / Hogarth recently commissioned FutureDeluxe to produce a CG animated commercial for Nespresso that is really wonderful. OK, what am I saying pretty much everything FutureDeluxe does is wonderful. The short clip takes the viewer on a journey that travels through a variety of spaces. Each highlighting the colors and variety of Nespresso machines, all of which are designed to create an atmosphere reflective of the machine itself. The short is made up of 37 films, 44 CG products, and 40 key visuals that live in 7 unique spaces.

One thing that really stands out to me about this advertisement is the fact that you hardly see any Nespresso branding. You occasionally see the logo on a shopping bag or on the Nespresso coffee pod but that is it, and it works. The brand is so well known they don’t need to smack you over the head by plastering the logo in every single shot. Not only that but the spaces themselves continue to elevate Nespresso to be seen as the luxury coffee item that it is.

If you want to geek out a bit, the process real below shows how this was put together from a fairly high level. Sketches, style frames, animatics, wireframe renderings plates, and all. Personally, I love looking at this stuff. I find it absolutely fascinating.