Year of Graduation: 1999
Current Position: President & Creative Director at Peter Hill Design
Please give a brief description of your current position and where you're working.
I am currently the President and Creative Director at Peter Hill Design. We are a branding, design and marketing firm in Minneapolis. We work with a variety of clients, large corporations and small start-ups. Our work includes various creative projects from identity and logo design, to website development, annual reports, TV and online advertising to trade show booths and package design.
What path did you follow to arrive at your current job?
After college, I worked at a small, family-owned design firm that had some in-house printing abilities. I learned a lot there about print production. My boss also pushed me to learn about the web and I was thrown into some web programming projects. This proved to be really beneficial in landing my next job at Axon Garside Hill (now Peter Hill Design), since they were looking for a designer that could help them with web projects but had a solid print design background.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?|
Work on your portfolio. Employers want to see solid design skills but also actual client work. Any internship experience that can provide you with something in your portfolio that shows you have real world work is key. Showing that you have a unique design style or niche - like illustration or photography - could really make you stand out too. Portfolios aren't just for designers and artists - if you are looking to be a copywriter or account rep or something else in the industry - portfolio and real world work examples are also important.
What skills are important in your field?
All the design programs in Adobe's Creative Suite are a must - InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop. Dreamweaver and Flash are not necessary depending upon the job, but are great to know. Almost all creative shops work on Macs too.
Writing! Being able to proofread your own work, develop a key message or headline or even create some basic copy is necessary. Being able to communicate about your work through clear emails to clients and team members is becoming more important too. Also, being up on trends is important, whether it is social media (Facebook, Blogs, Twitter) or search engine optimization.
What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
I loved being an art major but I knew I wasn't cut out to be a starving artist. At the time, Computer Art I & II were the only art classes offered that were somewhat close to graphic design. I was fortunate to land one of the coveted graphic design work-study jobs in the Public Affairs/Marketing Communications office. Here I was able to use the design programs on Macs and work on actual design projects. This experience was priceless because I had a portfolio of 'real' work when I left school.
I also helped design and produce the annual poetry book every year and worked on designing the announcement for our senior show. I was also lucky to take a class with master potter, Richard Bresnahan. This class was such a unique opportunity. Richard taught us a lot of about an artist's process and how to develop our own artistic process. I studied abroad for a semester in London too - not through CSB/SJU but through a school in London with other American study abroad students. I took some great history of art classes there and some interesting studio classes but I really learned about the design culture and advertising by just living there and having it surround me everyday.
What are the most satisfying/rewarding parts of your job?
Producing exciting work, collaborating as a team and working with clients to make their vision come to life are all rewarding parts of my job. Also, I enjoy having tons of variety in my day-to-day routine to keep things interesting.