People who believe in so-called natural talent tend not to
recognize or engage me. I like to believe those who see talent as
vulnerability manifested in peculiarity cloaked in normalcy are
those who have been my advocates.
Clive Piercy was the first designer I sought out because of work
I'd seen published. He ended up hiring me six months later as a
freelancer at PhD and I worked in that capacity for over two years.
Funny thing is my design hardly ever got produced! I loved it there
though, learned much about a design-driven business (my experience
prior to that had been business-driven design). I learned good
taste from Clive. And a respectable work ethic (tea at four, no
absurdly long hours and never work on weekends). I learned that
good design needs time to develop.
Kali Nikitas is a hero friend. We met in Holland in 1993: I had
taken a month from teaching and working at PhD to study with the
DeProgram in Rotterdam and she was doing an internship there. She
knew the faculty directors and so met up with us at dinners and
studio visits. She was amazing, aggressively stylish and
gregarious, instantly intimate—not the kind of person I typically
connect with. I had never met anyone like her (in fact I figured
she was too cool for me!) yet she reached out and we have been in
each other's lives ever since.
Kali came to L.A. to visit the following summer, 1994. She
stayed with me and dragged me around town (actually, I drove) to
meet people like April Greiman (hero) and Lorraine Wild (hero) and
other influential talents such as Somi Kim and Mr. Keedy and Caryn
Aono and Henk Elenga, to name a few. All designers whose work I
knew and admired. During the week's stay she got into a parking lot
accident in my car that wrecked the fender. I believe the
coalescence of all these events fused our future as great friends
It was the month in Holland working in studio and hanging out
with people such as Linda van Deursen, Armin Mevis, Rob Schroeder,
Prof. Oxenaar and Dawn Barrett that changed my design life. They
all noticed something of value in me and my work. And of course
meeting Kali there. Our discussions led me to follow through on a
secret desire to attend graduate school at CalArts. It turned out
at she was an alumna and confirmed that it was there that I had to
go. I enrolled in September of 1994.
Though Kali graduated six years before I did, she has become the
little sister (otherwise I have no siblings) who keeps me honest.
It's been inspiring to watch her mature in her work and progress
from being faculty at the Chicago Art Institute to Department Chair
at Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Other sisters have
emerged since my time as a student and teacher at CalArts, in
particular Louise Sandhaus, Anne Burdick and Gail Swanlund. And an
important aspect of my professional relationships are those I have
had the privilege of supporting, former students Jon Sueda, Carla
Figueroa, Ethan Glandstone and Yasmin Khan.
I can't depart this exercise without acknowledging the one
non-designer who has had the most influence on my design life
because of his belief in my talent (though I like to tease that he
doesn't know from talent): my husband John Hartzog.
Denise Gonzales Crisp
Department Chair, Graphic Design
College of Design
North Carolina State University
Cyrus Highsmith is now senior at the Font Bureau, he discusses lessons learned from David Berlow's 1997 sheep allegory.
Section: Inspiration -
typography, personal essay, mentoring, students
What can one expect of a graphic design career? Vrontikis
introduces the essay series Reflections. Rewards.
Section: Inspiration -
graphic design, personal essay, mentoring, students
What happens after school? A lot of work and little sleep, say designers and authors Andre Andreev and G. Dan Covert.
Section: Inspiration -
professional development, interview, advice, Voice, students
Choose to diversify your skill-set with degree programs, undergraduate certificates, or vocational certificates at Sessions College – the highest quality in online design education.
If you try to do all web development yourself to save money, you will find yourself stretched thin and limited by what you can do. You will discover, just like I did, that if you want to focus on growing your business and getting higher-end clients, you
will need to grow your team.
Keep Off the Grass
Volume Inc., San Francisco
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