I’ve been talking with my 17-year-old niece about graphic design. I’ve agreed to mentor her through the Senior Project program at Cedar Cliff High School. Each afternoon of the 2014–2015 school year, Amelia will come to Odessa Design to be a part of our team. The purpose is to help her determine if graphic design is the career path she wants to follow.
Thinking about all of this has taken me back 24 years to when I was studying art in high school. I lived and breathed art, or so I remember it that way. In fact, I did my Senior Project in the art room at the same high school. I got to spend 2–3 hours every afternoon creating art, learning different techniques, and experimenting with materials and tools. It. Was. Awesome. But, how would I earn a living making art? It was a scary thought.
I discovered graphic design my sophomore year at Penn State. I had some vague knowledge of “commercial art,” but didn’t really know much about it. The introductory courses were right up my alley, and I soon learned that graphic design exactly matched my interests. Where creating fine art encompassed unique talents and emotional expression, design was—and is—problem solving. It’s also innovative, collaborative, detail-oriented, and influential.
So, come September when Amelia begins her Design Odyssey, I’ll be excited to share my knowledge and experience to help her find her way. Our goals—which we developed together—are for her to:
• Gain exposure to the fundamentals of traditional graphic design including typography, color, spatial relationships, and message building.
• Discover the depth and breadth of graphic design opportunities available in today’s workplace.
• Understand the principal differences between art and design.
• Grasp a process for solving communication problems and learn how it relates to different design projects.
• Learn the value of collaboration and how it impacts design.
• Learn basic layout skills in key design applications.
I know it will be hard work—for both of us. And even if the experience ultimately steers her down a different career path, I will be proud for having the opportunity to guide her.
Wish us luck!