The Synergy Spreads!

The Synergy Spreads! We had a great night last Tuesday night at our Creative Synergy event thanks to our wonderful host and sponsor Wix.com and of course thanks to an incredible group of panelists! Read on to find out some of the advice they shared and see photos of the event. Thank you to everyone who came out for it!
  • The audience got to see examples of the panelists' work while they talked about their inspiration sources. From left: Kevin Brainard, Cybele Grandjean, Tim Leong, Kikuo Johnson, Frances Bailey, Ann de Saussure Davidson.
    The audience got to see examples of the panelists' work while they talked about their inspiration sources. From left: Kevin Brainard, Cybele Grandjean, Tim Leong, Kikuo Johnson, Frances Bailey, Ann de Saussure Davidson.
  • Our event sponsor and hostess Ariele Krantzow (far left) from Wix.com talked about the FREE website-building tools Wix offers (great for online portfolios!! super-easy to update!) and also talks about the Wix Lounge ... by night, they host events like ours, but by day, it's a FREE co-working space for anyone to come with their laptop or tablet, setup at a table and access their free WiFi.
    Our event sponsor and hostess Ariele Krantzow (far left) from Wix.com talked about the FREE website-building tools Wix offers (great for online portfolios!! super-easy to update!) and also talks about the Wix Lounge ... by night, they host events like ours, but by day, it's a FREE co-working space for anyone to come with their laptop or tablet, setup at a table and access their free WiFi.
  • Event moderator and organizer Travis Bonilla (far left) leads the panelists through a series of questions before opening it up to the audience for questions.
    Event moderator and organizer Travis Bonilla (far left) leads the panelists through a series of questions before opening it up to the audience for questions.



Our panelists talked about everything from where they find inspiration to the importance of collaboration to the never-ending job hunt. Check out some of their tidbits of advice:

Producer/Editor Frances Bailey: As an editor, Frances' go-to source of inspiration is pure research on the topic ... whether it's finding ideas in old, vintage things or just being thoroughly educated on the subject, many ideas come from the details and strengthen the final product's story-telling ability. She urged students to be happy and show your excitement about being there in your job, that being part of the team and being pleasant to work with goes a long way with superiors and peers to ensure they'll want to work with you again. 

Creative Director Kevin Brainard: Kevin's first job was at a smaller design firm (a firm that became SpotCo), so he was able to learn all the various aspects of the business from design to client meetings to the financials which was helpful to all his later roles. His advice for finding inspiration is take a break and experience life. The things that make you "you" are what will separate you from the pack and are the unique perspective you can bring to the project. 

Creative Director Cybele Grandjean: For Cybele, inspiration comes very everywhere, so be open to ideas at anytime. As a consulting designer who now is working on magazine redesigns, the importance of collaboration is more important to her than ever and she appreciates teams/clients who are open to new thinking. Based on that, her advice is to learn to work and play well with others ... school teaches you to work very independently for the most part, but once you get to the real world, it's almost always a team environment, so how you work with other people is extremely important.

Illustrator R. Kikuo Johnson: As an illustrator, Kikuo doesn't work in the office environment, but he still feels professionalism goes a long way ... be kind and polite, respond to emails/calls promptly, communicate with respect and meet deadlines. Like many of the others, Kikuo spoke to the importance of side projects since his own personal comic book projects have landed him numerous editorial illustration gigs (though he also worked as a waiter for years to supplement his illustration income as he pursued this dream career). As for finding inspiration, he often goes to Google Image Search and looks at hundreds of photos of the things he needs to illustrate, and as a result, he often finds it'll be something unrelated in the images (such as the lighting) that'll spark an idea.

Design Director Tim Leong: For Tim, he finds constraints and restrictions are super-helpful in his creative process as they help him narrow down his goals and ideas. He also suggests trying the test of "10" where he forces himself to come up with 10 variations on the project ... sometimes the best idea does end up being the first or second one you come up with, but often something will come up in the 9th or 10th attempt that you never imagined you could do. Tim also encouraged side projects and while in school, he strongly urged students to work on their school newspaper, magazine or publication since it most closely resembles the real world. 

Ann de Saussure Davidson: As a photo director, Ann's job is almost one of matchmaker where she tries to match up a photographer's natural skill and style with the assignment she has to photograph. Occasionally there's a mismatch, but you learn from every project, and oftentimes things that don't seem an obvious match can work well since they bring a new perspective. Ann spoke about the importance of parameters and restrictions on projects, that they often help hone her ideas, and when she mentioned a deadline as the best of all motivators, the entire panel agreed.


Our audience had many questions for the panelists from experience on certain projects to job-hunting advice. Here's what a few of them had to say in the end:

Great insights and demonstration of synergistic partnerships at work!
- Grace, Pratt recent graduate

It was validating to hear these pros talk about their nervousness in their first jobs ... that we all are scared to send our first emails and that everyone in the business has stories of struggling at some point. I very much appreciated Kikuo, Ann and Frances's perspectives, them not being the art directors, but the circle of people art directors work with. It was an amazing insight into the land of the creative workforce, a healthy balance of art/edit/illustration to give a 360 viewpoint of our industry. 
- Linda, working professional


That's the last of our fall semester events as things ramp up for the holidays and final exams. But stay tuned for details on our Student Design Competition and look for Portfolio Reviews in the spring.
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