You likely work at one of the graduate schools I am applying to…I can’t see a better purpose for my website than to talk to you, so why pretend?
So, here is the deal: I will use this space to tell you about me, my background and my reasons for applying for an MFA. Or you can skip over to check out my portfolio by clicking the link next to this lovely block of text. And those are really your only options…
It’s funny to me that planning for the future forces one to reexamine the past, so that is where I will start.
I began with design in high school, Brooklyn Tech had majors and my major, Media, consisted of graphic design, web design and visual arts courses. I spent the better parts of my day (in all meanings) in these classes over the last two years of my high school tenure. But ultimately I decided against continuing my design study in college.
As a teenager I was trying to figure out what I would do and who I would become, all the while under the misguided impression that once I made a career decision, it could not be altered. While visiting an art school, I snuck into a class simulating a client presentation and I thought “Well, who is saying yes or no to this?” And I concluded in my 16-year-old brain the judge of a work rather than its creator held the power. My understanding of how I could use graphic design was limited and studying a subject in order to have a particular philosophical point of view was a concept that went over my head at the time.
I chose a trajectory towards the account side of advertising, majoring in Communications and minoring in Marketing. Eventually, I learned through classes and later internships that this path was actually not for me; but, by the time I had come to this realization, it was too late to start over and seemed irresponsible to lose the investment I had already put in. And while in the throes of this I regretted not pursuing graphic design, I actually don’t regret the experience now. If you change one thing, it affects everything else and for me the important lesson was that sometimes you have to try something you don’t like in order to know when you do.
My plan B involved using what was left of my electives to take visual arts courses and after graduation I continued by taking graphic design courses at the School of Visual Arts (courses in typography, information design and editorial design). I looked for jobs and internships and worked on my portfolio. I’m definitely someone who likes to have a soundboard and a test audience during my process and with limited access to guidance and lacking the community environment of school, building a portfolio for the path I was seeking proved to be a slow process, rife with self-doubt. It was this moment that first compelled me towards a graduate program because I realized how valuable a period of concentrated, insulated study would be in terms of growing as a designer.
Currently I am Art Director at a small public relations firm. Much of what I’ve done in this position has revolved around creating a more sophisticated and professional look for all the materials that come out of the office, branding it, making it clearer. Press release, press kits, annual publicity reports have all been revamped in terms of style, look, and even how they are produced and I’ve pushed to create new materials like case studies and reports on campaigns for our clients.
I approach my position and design in general in two, not necessarily conflicting but different, ways. On one hand I see it as optimization, looking at something and saying there is a better, clearer, more efficient, more beautiful way to do this. As if design were a tool used to approximate a platonic form. But on the other hand, I find the idea of “best” or “perfect” problematic because they imply that there is only one answer to a problem. I feel that design is also about saying “what if…” Taking something, looking at it from different directions, and doing something that’s more interesting or communicates on a different level. I imagine that good design is more like a pool than a point, and in that pool are many different viable answers to a problem.
What I enjoy most about design work is the intellectual satisfaction that its challenges offer. I like to problem solve, and I like to be imaginative and design is at the intersection of both. And so, graduate school. Simply put, I am endeavoring towards an MFA because I want to be better. I want to be more knowledgeable, more skilled and more practiced. I’m looking to enhance and refine my abilities and sensibilities, to expose me to new approaches, and to learn and be challenged.
As someone who did not study design formally in undergraduate school, I am the first to say that I do not know everything about design, but I enjoy it. And want to enjoy it on more levels, in ways I have yet to discover, and while I don’t believe getting a graduate degree will leave me knowing everything there is to know, I do believe it will put me farther than where I am now.