I have a number of students ask to job shadow, which I always take as an hour or two to chat about design, and sometimes they have a few questions. Sometimes I get questions via email, and sometimes I remember that this site can be a bit more than the podcast we host on it. Anyway, I got a great email asking for help:

I’m working on a project for a college & career readiness class where my task is to interview someone corresponding to the field of work we plan to go into. I hope to become a graphic designer someday so I’m looking for someone of that profession to interview. The interview consists of 16 questions and can be answered as short or as long as you like.

I responded that I would be happy to, and thus, here are 16 questions and my short and/or long answers to them.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I am a designer working in Omaha, Nebraska. Since 2002, I have been running Eleven19. I also host a graphic design podcast – The Reflex Blue Show – at 36 Point.

Why did you choose graphic design?

I wanted to do something creative since I can remember, but what that was always changed. Once I was at college, I saw the work from the design department, and switched my major a couple years in.

What do you like about working in this field?

On a good day, we get to be creative. Sometimes we get to solve a problem or two. Sometimes we get to make things that look cool. I have also found the profession has grown so much that you can change what you do if it no longer serves a need for yourself or the clients you work with.

What kind of graphic design do you currently do?

Since I have been in this profession, the majority of my work has been website design, and website development. I also do logos, brochures, and other printed items. This week I am working on three projects – finalizing a brochure, and working on two websites.

What sub genres of graphic design have you worked in the past?

I like this question, it sounds so cool. I am not sure I have worked on anything that cool or niche, but I have done a variety of projects. I guess I have done websites, logos, podcasting, blogging, and such…

What was your greatest achievement in this field?

Was?! I usually have to think a while, as I only focus on few things I am currently working on, thinking back is much harder to keep focused on. The most recent thing I was proud of was being in a Benson First Friday show with a piece I designed alongside my daughter – that was special.

What are some adversities you faced in your career?

Wow, these questions seemed to get real very fast. I just stared watching Game of Thrones this month (I know I am way behind, I am planning to catch up just before the final season), so I assume adversities are relative. Realizing that everything you do in this profession changes. Almost every aspect of website design is done differently that it was when I started, it’s about keeping somewhat current, taking chances, and continuing to learn. You lose clients and jobs, you have times where there is less work, you have times where you don’t want to work on certain things, but you get through them or you don’t design anymore I guess…

I’ve read that graphic design is very competitive. Did you ever have trouble finding work?

This is the struggle that never ends. It’s not just finding work though (although you do need any work at times), it’s finding the right work. Certain projects are better fits for what you do, and it takes a while to figure out what those are, and to be honest with yourself about if projects and/or clients are going to be ones that are fulfilling or draining to you. I have found the projects I get the most out of usually involve the person I am working with, as if the working relationship is good, the work is better.

Do you prefer freelance or working with an agency or business more?

I have found I enjoy working in a 1-2 person agency, but have also had a lot of great projects that involved working with a slightly larger agency.

Are you satisfied working in this field? Why or why not?

Yes. It allows constant learning and growth. If you ever end at a place where you quit learning, and you are not doing work you can be proud of, it’s time to start looking.

What are some skills you think are crucial for a graphic designer to have?

A desire to continue to be better. The ability to communicate your ideas to others. Being able to work with others.

What is the most important thing that should go in a graphic design portfolio?

The type of work you want to do. If you don’t show people the things you would like to work on, they will rarely think to ask you to help with them.

What sort of programs or materials do you use when doing your job?

The software changes all the time, but right now I’m using Adobe products for design (mostly Photoshop and InDesign), and a code editor for HTML/CSS coding.

What do you think is a crucial characteristic every graphic designer should have?

The willingness to experiment and try something new. The ability to fail and try again.

Have you ever hit a creative block? If so, how did you deal with it?

Always, but you still have to do the work. Sketching and research are the two things that always help. Also, leaving your chair and taking a 10 minute stroll does wonders. WONDERS.

What advice can you give for someone going into this field of work?

Do work outside of class. You can tell almost immediately upon looking at a students portfolio on if they only do the work assigned to them, or if they are doing projects on their own. Even when the self-initiated work isn’t shown, the other work starts to appear much stronger from just doing work.

Thanks again!

Oh, thank you, this was fun.