Today we were “en route” to our last studios. Of the eight total, three were left: Studio Blue, Arc Worldwide, and envisionit. We dawned our jackets, grabbed our umbrellas and headed out into the city.
Cheryl Towler Weese greeted us with books, projects, and graduate school advice. We sat at a large wooden table across from a white board filled with ideas and synonyms. Those brainstorms are what constantly inspire their extensive work with cultural, social, and educational design. She then showed us their process for client work.
The work before the work begins:
1. Make a list of words that represent the project or brand with the client.
2. Create this image in three different versions with words + image. Let the client chose.
3. Begin creating! Show generally three different iterations of what the possibilities could be. Chose your line widths, your color pallets, and present the ideas in real life situations to give the client the full range of possibilities. Talk with the client to agree on the final direction.
4. Now the designing begins! Fiddle around, figure it out, and finalize it.
After ogling at their massive supply of museum and artist books (made with unique cardboard bindings, stitching, and type variations), we began asking questions. Cheryl is the head of the graduate program at a local college so we asked her opinion on the benefits of grad school for designers. She relayed the idea that grad school gives new designers time to ruminate on what truly matters to them; it allows them to focus on a theoretical direction.
Unfortunately, because of all of the wonderful secrets on the white board and elsewhere we were unable to take photographs for Studio Blue *
Our ride dropped us off once again at the steps of the towering Leo Burnett, yet this time we were visiting a smaller retail marketing subset within their building: Arc Worldwide. Courtney Hoover, Associate Creative Director, greeted us and gave a tour of their space. Our first stop was a product and shelving testing area. It looked like an aisle of Target, a gas station, and ice cream aisle combined into one product-testing haven. Here advertisers could test shelf awareness, explore innovative ideas, and of course impress clients.
We then strolled past their many beer inspired creations (a Keystone trophy deer graced the office floor) to a room where Courtney could give us some design advice. She told us about her long trek to where she was now. It was a path from college, working multiple jobs, traveling for two years, and then returning to go to a portfolio school (which was a new concept to us) and jumpstart her design career from there. This portfolio school, based in Atlanta, helped her get an internship at Pentagram in NYC. The mission of portfolio schools is to prepare students that suddenly get out of college and realize, “Where. Is. My. Work.”. She so believed in their purpose that she now teaches at the Chicago Portfolio School. Her advice all led to the idea that life is crazy, no path you chose will stay constant, but everything will work out in the end.
Our last studio greeted us with a hello and Tom Hanks. Quite literally it was ‘International Tom Hanks Day’ which encourages people to donate to Lifeline Energy (Hank’s favorite charity) and of course enjoy his great movies. Our contact Justin Muggleton introduced us to some of the design team in the kitchen, where Tom Hank’s face was plastered.
We then entered a glass conference room where 6 different designers gave us a perspective on their roles. Their jobs ranged from web, to motion design, to creative direction. Two of them shared their freelancing experience aka: ‘wouldn’t trade it, but wouldn’t do it again’. We again asked the grad question, and got a very different answer. As they noted, everyone’s path is different, but it’s important to realize that good jobs can offer as much experience as a degree (and jobs pay you to learn). Yet most importantly, envisionit’s message to us was that each one of us is a brand, and we have to represent ourselves accordingly. Process is important. Our thinking is important. Positivity is important. These are things that a great company looks for in a designer.
Their business card says, “ENJOY YOUR AGENCY” and they mean more than the client-business relation. Everyone at the table seemed to truly enjoy the projects they were working on. They wished us the best, exchanged cards, and told us to keep in contact. This was a lovely closing on our start to becoming professional designers.