Dawn and I met Thursday afternoon at Olson in downtown Minneapolis. She gave me a quick tour of the company’s workplace before we sat down and began the interview.
To start things off, Dawn talked about how she got into design in the first place. Originally she’d gotten an undergraduate in art education and taught classes at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Relatively quickly she realized that she wanted to be doing what she was teaching. Thus, she returned to school and earned a degree in graphic design from MCAD.
From there she got an internship at what is now Kick and it turned into a job. As of last May, Dawn moved to Olson where she is a senior designer.
While talking I learned that Dawn has helped review portfolios at AIGA’s Portfolio 1-on-1 in the past and she had a lot of good, general advice. Some of the thing she mentioned were:
- Be an interesting person. Be different. Be original. Be new.
- Let your portfolio speak for you.
- Have multiple formats of your portfolio.
- Consider the order of projects.
- Have a point of view and something to say.
- Have questions.
- Be excited! Be motivated!
Because she’s reviewed so many portfolios, Dawn says it’s easy to see the trends and who’s following them. Be the one making the trends. Be the person who finds the next big thing! But make sure you stick to your interests. Focus on what you’re excited about and pursue it. Make sure it shows up in your portfolio. You won’t always have the chance to talk along with your portfolio so let it stand on it’s own. With that mind, pay attention to how you order things. Tell a story that makes sense, don’t just drop stuff in there willy-nilly.
Also, never forget to be excited! This was something Dawn brought up repeatedly. Employers can always find someone who’s good and excited. Be that person. As a bit of side-note, if you can, show what other skills you have. Working at an ad agency, Dawn said she’s done photoshoots before and is currently working on something internal to do with letterpress. You like writing and are good at it? Try writing up your own copy instead of using filler text.
As a final note, Dawn talked about being involved. AIGA. AdFed. Volunteer and meet people. Connections are your greatest weapon.