New Rules for the New Game

The first thing we, as new graduates should understand is that this is a new game. Since the US economy’s drastic (and most likely permanent) change, the rules have changed with it. More accurately though, the rules are still being developed. Industry professionals aren’t staying at the same job for 20-30 years and freelancing is becoming more and more common. Ladies and gentleman, this is not the job market your parent’s remember from yesteryear, this is a whole new frontier.

The design industry in particular is a small, yet competitive one. It can be quite difficult to get out there, be noticed, and get the position you want at a company you believe in. But fret not! After all, we are first and foremost creative problem solvers.

 

If the line to get in the front door is too long, find a side door to sneak in through. Or if you must, make friends with someone who can pull you in through a window.

 

So, first things first… What do you want?

If you’re a designer like me, you probably have a pretty good idea of what kind of design you want to do by the time you graduate. If not, that’s ok too. Either way, do your research. Find companies who do work you really love. Read their mission statements and find out what they’re all about. Try and find 5 or 6 of these companies that you want to reach out to and really dig in. Find out everything you can about them. It’s even a good idea to familiarize yourself with at least one specific project you like in particular that you can cite in your correspondence to them.

At the moment, I personally have 5 companies that I’m attempting to woo. One company is a clothing company where I would be doing in-house design, 3 are graphic design firms with a focus on branding, and one is an ad agency. These companies are located in Atlanta, NYC, and Philadelphia. Fortunately, I don’t have much that’s tying me down to the city I’m in right now, so I kind of have the freedom to move to wherever I get the best job offer.

 

Next, we need to address that pesky form letter…

First, print a copy of your form letter. Second, take said letter to the nearest vacant parking lot or fire pit. Proceed to douse it in lighter fluid, gasoline, or any other flammable liquid, and… BURN IT.

Then, go you your computer and delete the form letter file. Burning isn’t necessary, but simply drives the point home. Think about it, would YOU want to read a form letter? I know I wouldn’t. Please, for the love of art and design, don’t ever begin correspondence with “Dear Sir or Ma’am” or “To Whom it May Concern:.” Find out who the creative director is or even one of the art directors and address this person directly. As a designer, you are speaking the same language and therefore have common ground. This is a great place for a professional relationship to begin.

Personally, I like to send letters by snail mail. It’s an old school method that can hold a lot of power in today’s market. Think about it, you can’t delete a letter. You’re forced to hold it in your hands and decide to open it or throw it in the trash. It’s my belief that most people would at least open it and take a look. You can’t say the same for every email they receive.

In this first letter, I don’t talk employment… at all. I introduce myself, mention my education and maybe say something very brief about my experience. Then, tell them why they’re awesome. Be genuine. They are one of 5 or 6 countless companies that you admire the most, so it shouldn’t be too hard.

Be brief, but specific. What exactly do you like about them? Here, cite a specific project and why it resonated with you. Chances are, they will be quite flattered and much more likely to respond. Make sure to mention that you plan to followup with them in the next few days either by email or by phone.

Lastly, give them a little something extra. I like to include a sample of my own work that somehow relates to work that they’ve done or their company does. Everyone likes gifts! Make sure your work sample displays excellent craft and is nice and neat. What a great opportunity do display your awesome X-ACTO blade skills you learned in school! But really, this is what all your hard work in school has lead up to. Show them that you know your stuff! Show them that you mean business! You can do it!

 

Next time I’ll discuss the art of the followup and other ways to get your feelers out there in finding your dream job.

 

Love and Light,

Katherine

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Post-Graduation Panic… Kind of

I am happy to tell you that I have (almost) officially graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design. I still have some university requirements to finish up this summer, but the important bits are done.

In addition to taking summer classes, much time will be spent  making final improvements and edits to my portfolio and website. Basically, doing the final nip/tuck on my personal brand before stepping out into the “real world.” This leads me to the biggest project I have in front of me, which is… (dun, dun, dunnnn) finding… a… JOB.

Every person from every major has their own method of taking on this beast of a task. Slowly, but surely, I am developing my own.

I am not a professional blogger, journalist, writer or even storyteller of any kind… Just to clear things up. I have decided to share my journey to employment, because it matters. There are countless Millennials in my position and none of us really have a surefire way to find permanent, full-time employment. This is not the same world our parents grew up in. People are not staying at the same company for 20-30 years like before. The rules are changing, the workforce is changing and we must make changes as well to keep up.

Post-Graduation-Panic...-Kind-of

You can check out my design work at kkonzal.com

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Logo Facelift

As I move closer to graduation, I’m taking another look at personal branding. Overall I don’t feel that I need to make drastic changes to my logo, however, some refining is necessary. I decided to go ahead and thin out the letterforms, making it less bulky. I’ve also taken out the purple letterform behind the black one. I’ll still use the purple as an accent color, but not in the logo. Up next: Business Card 😀 (The blue lines are just guidelines.)

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 5.59.16 PM

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Promax BDA

This year I will be taking part in the PromaxBDA Student Story Challenge. This type of project is a unique challenge, because the subject matter is me. It’s “my story.” When I first started out as a designer, I found that the absolute most challenging projects were the ones in which I had do define myself or my work in any way. However, over the years, I slowly started discovering and defining myself as a designer, and in ways, as a person.

So, for this project, I have a LOOSE concept in mind, that I will update soon. However, I know what music I will use! Since we have to either have permission (get permission/use stock audio) or use our own music, I’ve decided to use a song my brother and his friend wrote and recorded. It’s about a lady bug… it’s really cute 🙂 … Enjoy!

Bird Law (Jeff Konzal and Logan Webb): Lady Bug

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Martin Luther King Jr Commemoration

I came across this quote by the late Rev Martin Luther Kind Jr and it truly resonated with me. It served as inspiration for this poster design.

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Always Say Thank You

Especially when you’re first starting out your career, always say thank you. Even for the little things. Your first contacts and connections made will make up the foundation of your network. Always go out of your way to make sure those that help you and give you feedback know that their time and efforts are appreciated. Go a step or two beyond what is expected. You’ll be surprised where it takes you.

Thank-You-Card-Photo

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Things you shouldn’t do while driving

This is a link to my final video based on the “Dnt txt n drv” storyboard that I posted

“Things You Shouldn’t Do While Driving”

 

Blow Off Campaign

These are 2 posters I created for an anti-smoking campaign in my Professional Practices class. There are 3 other designers in my group and we’re focusing on web comics and posters. We are using a limited color palette and a 1920’s inspired style.

We’re trying to employ a new approach to encourage students to not smoke by showing how smoking affects those around you. We are using this approach as opposed to using the gruesome  scare tactics that other efforts use that can often offend and turn people off.

Katherine_Poster-2.4

Poster-1.2

DNT TXT N DRV

The next project in my advertising class is a motion project. We had the choice to do an ad for anti-bullying or an ad against texting and driving.  I chose texting and driving. Here is my initial storyboard. The images will not be animations, but live action.

Txt N Drv_Storyboard-01 Txt N Drv_Storyboard-02 Txt N Drv_Storyboard-03 Txt N Drv_Storyboard-04 Txt N Drv_Storyboard-05 Txt N Drv_Storyboard-06 Txt N Drv_Storyboard-07 Txt N Drv_Storyboard-08 Txt N Drv_Storyboard-09 Txt N Drv_Storyboard-10 Txt N Drv_Storyboard-11 Txt N Drv_Storyboard-12Txt N Drv_Storyboard-13

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