Elizabeth Rossi // PSU Grad – 2007

Posted on Sep 28th, 2008 by Command Save

What is your position/title, group and place of work? How long have you been working there?
I work at Blackfish Creative. My position is Production Designer. I have been at Blackfish Creative for 1 year and 3 months. Blackfish Creative has been in business for 13 years.

How did you find your current design position?
Prior to graduating, I participated in two internships. Blackfish Creative was the second of the two. The initial internship was the introduction to the company, the people, the Blackfish Creative culture and the scope of work that they do.

What projects are you working on currently?
I am currently working on The Oregon Zoo quarterly publication, "ZooTracks." It is published 4 times a year and is anywhere from 12 to 16 pages long. It features upcoming news, events and public interest pieces that the Zoo wants to share with their members and the community.

What do you like best about your position or projects?
My position as a Production Designer allows me to participate a large variety of projects which involve a wide scope of focus. I have participated in the rebranding of companies, product catalogs, annual publications, logo development, tradeshow (booth) designs, and designing international events/conference pieces.

Working at Blackfish Creative has also given me the opportunity to both view and participate in how a small-to-medium size business continues to grow and thrive in Portland.
In what ways (faculty, program, projects, classes, etc) was PSU-GD successful in
preparing you for being a professional designer?
My time at Portland State University provided me with the foundation to carry myself into the design world. The skills that I gained from the program, faculty, projects and classes reflect directly upon where I am today.

For example, all those typography classes from Lis Charman, spark back into my memory everytime I am faced with a typography challenge. Also, specifically the internship classes, as they were the initial reason I began my internship search, which lead me to Blackfish Creative.

In many ways, I feel Portland State University's Graphic Design program is a strong program, however, I tried not to rely only on PSU as my foundation. Internships (both paid and upaid, volunteer work, programs, pro-bono work, personal projects, etc) all folded into my experiences which helped guide me to my current position as a professional.

What suggestions to have for PSU-GD to improve upon or information/content that you should have had in school but did not get?
I feel the PSU Graphic Design program needs a mentorship program. Perhaps students must apply, (maybe) for a limited number of positions. The mentors would be professional designers from the community. This would be more than an internship, it would be a year long participation, it would involve time spent invovled with that mentor, seeing project(s) from initiation to completion.

A realistic grasp of the real-time process was something that was completely unknown to me. One of the primary questions/concerns I had when I transitioned from a graduate to a work professional was "How long does my employer expect it to take me to be 'up to speed'. I was concerned that I might not be as adapt at the programs and the process as I should be.

Allowing me, as a student to see realistically what that design process looks and feels like, would certainly have been a big benefit.

What recommendations do you have for any current students and/or students graduating?
I recommend that they….
– focus on understanding and mastering whatever your choice of "tool" is (pencil, paintbrush, design programs….etc) so that you are not fighting the basics when trying to get across or show your beautiful and brilliant ideas.
– always be looking at high quality design work to immurse yourself in it.
– read lots of books, not only can the design work in the books be great, but the books themselves are beautiful peices of design.
– participate in things outside of work and school, spend time and energy at internships, find a design mentor, stay connected to your teachers and fellow students – create and maintain various avenues/sources of learning and experiences.
– dont worry about what you dont know about design, put yourself into positions where you actively learn and participate.

Any other thoughts about being a designer that you would like to share (things you wish you had known or just any thing of interest to you?

1. As a student, it felt like the professional design community in Portland was something I had to know the secret handshake to get into. This is not true. The design community is everywhere. Portland is a great place to start to learn that, First and Last Thrusday are great, visit art shows, the theater, look at things people post on light poles, visit stores, talk to people. I found myself involved and participating in what I thought was hard to break into.

Be aware however, for as big as the design community feels at first, its also a small, somewhat close knit world. Almost everyone knows someone or has a connection to something.

2. Be gracious with your creativity. I have learned far more in times when I have shared my 'best' ideas and collaborated with others. The process of collaboration with the right people is second to none.

3. People are usually very willing to help students, as they are viewed as the demographic that is still learning, the 'future of ………". Be aware of this, and be smart about it. Use this as your introduction to some awesome things. I am always willing to help students who are willing to participate fully with their time and energy, as Im sure many others are too.

Would you share a link to a site or a book or ? that you frequent for inspiration?
Inspiration comes in many forms. The top five sites that I look at, not neccessarily for design ideas, but for inspiration…

New York Times
AIGA Design Archives
Extraverage Productions
Flickr – (both for inspiration of photography and design)
UnderConsideration – anything and everything on this site
Do you have a website? work examples?

Lots of work samples can be found at www.kfish.com.