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A reflection on graduation and preparing yourself for the future

Graduation was sort of a bittersweet moment for me.  Sure it’s great to be done with school and to celebrate with your family, but isn’t it disheartening to think that you won’t be going back to school next week, or even next semester?  The sense of finality really hits you when you least expect it.

The real question is what do you do now?  Find a job? Apply for grad school? Take a break? Travel?

While I was sitting in a sea of purple last Saturday waiting for my turn to walk the stage, I thought about what I did right and wrong throughout my time at TCU.  I am thankful that I am going to have a job fresh out of college, but some are not so fortunate. Here are some things you can do to future-proof yourself.

Networking: As much as I hate to do this, it actually does work.  Meeting as many people related to your industry increases your chances of being recognized for a position. Meeting people, however, is half the battle — you have to present yourself as if you are interviewing for a job, because  you never know what’s going to happen; the person you are speaking to could be considering you for a job, or knows someone who might.

Do your best in the classroom: Students, take notice of who is doing the best work in your classes.   A good work ethic and reputation can take you a long way.  Kelsey, the director here at Zag, was a colleague of mine  before my time here and decided to bring me on because she knew the type of work I could produce.  People are always watching and your reputation is on the line, so do your best — no matter what you’re doing.

Plan it out: Many people don’t like to look into the future, but you kind of have to when college is starting to wind down.  Go to job or graduate school fairs — anything that has to do with the next step. Don’t stress yourself though; if the job market just isn’t cutting it to you, there is always grad school.  In some instances grad school is a better option than entering the real world, especially with the state of our economy.  Two years down the road, the job market might turn around and you would be making a lot more than if you would have entered the workforce straight out of college. There are always options, so plan accordingly.

Either way, don’t wait until the last minute to plan your next move.  Most graduates have loans to pay and that grace period can come and go faster than you think.

The key is being prepared, knowing that you have options and doing your best.  If you do this, you can’t go wrong.  Congratulations to the Class of 2009!

12/21/2009 at 3:17 PM Leave a comment

Lessons Learned, Part 5


A graphic designer never stops learning because there is always something to improve upon or innovate. Six months have come and gone by so quickly. In that time, I have learned so much from my co-workers, colleagues and clients.

Here are a few things I’ve taken from being a part of the Zag team:

  • Comfort: The best thing a designer can do to stimulate his or her creative ability is to put them in an environment that they are comfortable with. I have played music, taken walks, joked around  — anything I could do to calm my nerves and de-stress myself. The advertising industry can be jarring at times, and I need all the help I can get.
  • Communication: The ability to communicate and stay organized is essential to an agency’s productivity (and sanity). I’ve learned to organize the thousands of files have had to work with into carefully placed folders so that at me and my co-workers can easily find and access them.
  • Criticism: You can’t please everyone, especially when it comes to design — an inherently subjective topic. I’ve learned how to take criticism of my work in a positive and professional manner in order to complete the task at hand. The first thing I realized was it was not criticism, but constructive criticism that I was hearing. Everyone in the agency is working together for the betterment of the company, and that’s something I haven’t forgetten.

And finally, have fun and enjoy the ride. Hopefully that goes without saying.

11/13/2009 at 3:41 PM Leave a comment

How to prepare your arsenal

RolandoAside from your resume, a solid portfolio is one of the most important tools for a designer.

It takes time and dedication to build a good portfolio, but the extra effort can mean the difference between a foot in the door and a “we’ll keep your application on file.” Before you submit your portfolio to a potential employer, here are five tips on getting your “arsenal” submission-ready:

  • Presentation.  Don’t put your work into a plain 1-inch binder.  You’ve spent countless hours on your pieces, so go all out and buy a professional (i.e. leather) portfolio.
  • Quality, not quantity.  Do not put everything you’ve created in the past four years into your portfolio.  Employers don’t want to sit there and look at all of your work.  Find your best 10 to 15 pieces and display them professionally.
  • Explanation.  Make sure to add a small paragraph to each of your pieces, explaining your thoughts and the work’s creative process. Sometimes employers like to see how you think and solve problems that they may have in the future.
  • Organization.  It doesn’t hurt to organize your portfolio.  Dividers are a good way to show your versatility on the different types of projects you’ve been able to work on.  Page numbers are also a nice touch.
  • Creativity.  Be creative in your approach.  Have a theme that ties in your personality to your work.  Nice color schemes and legible typefaces are also aspects of your theme that need to considered.  Be different – but not too different.  Let your work do the talking.

09/14/2009 at 1:00 PM Leave a comment


RolandoBeing a successful graphic designer means knowing all facets of the industry: PMS colors, contrast, repetition, alignment, proximity, software, product packaging and more.

But one area most amateur designers do not take into consideration when creating their work is the printer.

In a world consumed with computer screens and 1080ppi, people are progressively losing the love and admiration they once had in holding a well-designed printed piece in their hands.

The printer is a graphic designer’s best friend – they can make your work look terrific or terrible –  and I thought I’d introduce myself: Alex and I were off to Curry Printing Inc. for a press check and a mini tour.

Below are my top three experiences at Curry, in no particular order:

  1. The Smell. As you walk into the front office, you are greeted by intense smells of ink, oil and glue. You have to get used to it, but it lets you know what you’re getting yourself into.
  2. The Eyes. I consider myself to have a pretty good eye until I met Cody Curry. He is the owner/president of Curry Printing, and he put my attention to detail to shame. While we were conducting our press check, Cody pointed out spots and blemishes (what he called hickies) that were the size of a grain of salt – no exaggeration.
  3. The Hands. Everyone at Curry Printing is so nice. We are greeted with smiles and firm handshakes – it definitely put me and Alex at ease at our first press check. Quality, precision, and customer service are what Cody said sets Curry Printing apart from the rest.

One thing is certain, printing is serious business that could make or break your hard work.

08/05/2009 at 11:03 AM 1 comment

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