The person I chose to interview for this assignment was a friend of mine named Saffron from Klamath Falls. Saffron is a Graphic Designer for the local Herald and News newspaper, her official title is “Special Sections Coordinator”. These sections include tabs and magazines, some yearly, some monthly, some seasonal. Beyond that she manages the design side of national ads and creates ads for local companies to be used in the daily newspaper.
Saffron spent 3 years at a community college, then 3 years at a 4 year college culminating in 2 AAs in Web Design and Web Mastery and a BA in Graphic Design. She worked hard to get to where shes at today and she will be the first to tell you that it is definitely a competitive occupation. If you want to break into the field, staying on top of latest trends and technologies is key. Obviously web and mobile are huge right now. The more you learn and know, the more competitive you will be in the marketplace. She highly recommends taking basic skills classes at a community college as she found their training to be far more practical than the equivalent classes at her four year college. She also advises taking as many internship opportunities as you can to gain experience while you’re in college. Having a modicum of natural talent doesn’t hurt either!
Saffrons favorite part of the job is the planning process of creating something; the research aspect. Attempting to understand a clients wants vs. needs and how to meld the two if they conflict. Receiving a new project in general brings with it the opportunity for her to immerse herself in a whole new topic and style of design. Her least favorite part of the job is simply the misconception that the computer does the work for you and a simple click of a button is all it takes. Design requires a vast amount of knowledge and skills. Saffron points out that if it were as simple as a click of a button she wouldn’t have spent years developing her craft.
There are several different types of jobs that exist at the Herald and News and in the graphic design industry in general. For example at Saffrons job there are 4 print designers and 1 web designer in the advertising department. In the news department there is a front page designer, several interior layout designers and a special sections designer. There is one person in prepress who dummies the paper and newsroom special sections, send files through the RIP and handles commercial print jobs. The industry in general is extensive. There’s your basic print design which includes design of brochures, magazines, newspapers, packaging, billboards, calendars, posters, programs, play bills, DVD covers, Books, etc. and you also have to realize that your creating a corporate identity- not just the logo but the entire identity of a company including all relating paraphernalia.
There is a lot more that goes into graphic design than just the layout of type and pictures. For example creating a successful sign isn’t just about the way it looks but how well it functions as an informative device. There are specific mathematical calculations that take into account how far away you want the sign to be readable and how fast the viewer is moving when viewing the sign. The legibility of the font chosen and it’s size are all considerations. Typography is another area that Saffron has some expertise, she sometimes literally creates custom fonts, which is by no means a simple task.
One of the biggest challenges facing Saffron is maintaining readership and, in turn, advertisers. Graphic Designers work in what is considered a dying industry. Physical newspapers are a novelty more than a standard these days. The more graphic designers embrace emerging technologies the more likely they to exist in the future.
When I asked Saffron if there were any professional or trade associations I should connect with if I were interested in becoming a graphic designer she was extremely helpful and suggested AIGA which I learned is the gold standard for graphic design and its also a lot cheaper when you are a student so its definitely something to think about.
When the interview was over I had a much better understanding of all the different aspect of Graphic Design and I think its a very admirable career, intriguing career. I also have a more clear understanding of all the difficult aspects and after talking with Saffron I’m honestly not sure if Graphic Design is necessarily the career for me but it was a pleasure getting to speak with a professional in depth about their career.