Professional SpotlightSpotlight

When Carpe Juvenis set out to redesign, we knew exactly who to turn to. Spencer Shores, an incredibly talented recent graduate from Cornish College of the Arts, was the person we needed. We were referred to him by Kate Harmer (who you might recognize from her own Professional Spotlight!) who brought him onto her team as an intern and quickly realized he stood out as worth recommending. It’s hard to believe that Spencer is just in his early twenties – he has the professionalism of an ultra experienced pro, and the skill of someone who is able to combine both learned and natural talent to everything he touches. We knew from the get go that we had to share his story and advice with the Carpe community! So without further ado…

Name: Spencer Shores
Education: BFA in Visual Communications from Cornish College of the Arts
Follow: www.spencershor.es

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth?”

Spencer Shores: Seizing your youth to me is about finding your path. It is taking on an active role of defining yourself. Fail often and what have you.

CJ: You are studying Design and Visual Communications at Cornish College of the Arts. What sparked your love for design and illustration?

SS:
I entered school as print-maker and a painter. My love for design and illustration was something that grew the more I was immersed in the community. I loved that designers ask questions, whether they have the answers at the time. However, they always planned on finding an answer. Design for me is the perfect cohesion of critical and creative thinking.

CJ: What does your creative process look like?

SS: It really depends on the project.  I like to have a variety of projects at any one time. Some are just visual experiments or technique explorations, while others are highly conceptual projects that tend to be very near and dear to my heart. The visual and technique driven projects usually start with a lot of visual references and lots of sketching, it’s a lot less formal of a process. Some of these projects are just weekend posters or things of that nature. The more conceptual projects starts with a lot of reading, writing, and reflecting. The conceptual projects can last from weeks to even years. There are still visuals and sketching phases, however this occurs much later. The visuals don’t become important until you’re about 80% done with the project.

SS

CJ: You interned at Hum Creative. What was that experience like and how has it influenced your work (in design and/or business)?

SS:
Working with the Hum crew was a great experience. It was really demystifying of the design world. You hear horror stories while in school of what design firms are like. I suppose I’m lucky, because that was not my experience. Interning and later working with Hum was the first job I’d ever had where I wasn’t counting the hours until I could go home. I vividly remember thinking that this was what people talked about when they said work is never work if you love what you do. Since then, I never approached design as a task, or something I need to do. Design is always an opportunity, an opportunity to make something that matters. That’s a really exciting realization.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from being a designer and illustrator?

SS: It is an important and valuable skill to be able to see things that don’t work. I consider myself an optimist, but there are a lot of things in the world that do not work, or at the very least could work better. The greatest lesson I’ve learned as a designer is that the first step of solving a problem is asking the question.

CJ: What is the most challenging part about being a designer and illustrator? The best part?

SS: I think the most challenging part is in fact the best part. Something that doesn’t generally come naturally to people is the idea of collaboration. The best part of being a designer is the opportunity to work with people, but more importantly people that think differently than yourself. Whether it be other designers or working with clients. My best work has come from collaboration and melding of ideas in order to solve a problem. This isn’t always easy, but it is always rewarding.

Spencer shores

CJ: What advice would you give to a young person who is interested in being a designer and illustrator?

SS: Work hard and ask people questions. You’ll be amazed at how positively people react when you are genuinely interested in what they do. Design/Illustration is a fairly small community, so it goes a long way just to reach out to people. That results in an infinite supply of knowledge and mentorship.

CJ: Every day in your life must be different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

SS: I try to make a point to ease my way into the week, by ritualizing it in a sense. I make the active choice to get up and get out as soon as possible. I go straight to a coffee shop and get a coffee, being in a new surroundings kick starts my mind. Then I make lists. I love to make lists of things I want to achieve during that day and throughout that week. It’s an important part of my workflow.

CJ: What are your time management tips? How do you stay organized and efficient?

SS: The lists! I make multiple versions of my lists, I keep digital and handwritten copies. Actually physically writing things helps me remember them more accurately. It is also important to have an idea of how much time you can spend on something. It’s a good exercise to time yourself with parts of your day or workflow so you can accurately assess and distribute your time.

CJ: What is a cause or issue that you care about and why?

SS: A point of discussion recently has been the education system. I believe that we systematically approach educating people in the wrong way. This results in the population believing that they are not capable of many things. I believe that people can do anything they want to do. We live in a world where almost all knowledge is accessible and you can learn all about it with the half a second it takes to Google it.

SS2

CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

SS: I’m really pushing myself to be better about being honest with myself and others. Not in the sense that I am a compulsive liar or any such thing. I am more accurately a relentless optimist. I believe that many things are possible and I’m often right, however, I tend to spread myself fairly thin at times by overcommitting to people. At a certain point it is more beneficial to others if I am not quite so drained.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

SS: I go outside. First thing I need to do is step away from what is frustrating me, which typically is work related and often involves a screen. I constantly need to remind myself to go outside, feel a breeze, and take a breath. It keeps my grounded and engaging my other senses takes the focus off of the one point of frustration. I also write my thoughts. It allows me to stop thinking about so many things at once if I can just get them on paper.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

SS: It is okay to question your teachers. They’ll encourage you to do so. It is totally possible to make money in a creative field. Forget about business school. It is also possible to make things that are important and impactful, not just for you, but for others as well.

Spencer Shores Qs

Images by Spencer Shores

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Mike Curato, author of the popular children’s book series, Little Elliot, is incredibly talented and creative. Mike was generous enough to let us into his workspace to see where the magic happens of making a children’s book and adored character come to life. His shelves are lined with children’s books that serve as inspiration, artwork illustrated by many of his talented friends, and plush Little Elliots. 

Having studied Illustration at Syracuse University, Mike’s passion has taken him all around the country. He worked as a graphic designer in Seattle while simultaneously doing small freelance gigs. Now Mike’s time is dedicated to creating the world of Little Elliot, as well as other creative endeavors. Mike is no stranger to hard work and dedication, acknowledging the fact that sometimes we have to take jobs we don’t want or eat Ramen noodles for months. We are so inspired by Mike’s hustle and for never giving up.

Read on to learn more about the steps Mike took to achieve his lifelong goal of becoming a published author and illustrator of children’s books, where his love of storytelling comes from, and the fantastic list of resources he recommends both personally and professionally. Don’t forget to pick up your copy of the second book in the Little Elliot series, Little Elliot, Big Family.

Name: Mike Curato
Education: BFA in Illustration from Syracuse University
Follow: www.mikecurato.com / @MikeCurato

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Mike Curato: I’m presently in my mid-thirties, which sounds ancient to a 20-year-old (at least I thought it did at that age). I still consider myself “young,” now that I have a broader perspective, and while I’m not “really old,” I’ve been around long enough to experience a chunk of life. Looking back, I’m amazed at how much work it took to get to where I am, not just professionally, but mentally and spiritually. I think “seizing your youth” means not to waste any time living your life. You’ve got stuff you wanna do, right? Find out what you need to learn in order to make whatever that is possible. Live for quality moments. Find genuine people to hang out with. Don’t be content with the status quo. What can you do right now to make a difference in your life and others? Find out who you are and own it. I used to hear “old people” saying, “it will all go by so fast,” while I was growing up, to which I would roll my eyes and grunt, “uhuh.” Now that I am one of those “old people,” I am telling you, IT’S TRUE!

CJ: You received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from Syracuse University. Where does your love of illustration come from and why did you choose to study them in a formal setting?

MC: I’ve always wanted to be an artist. Many of my childhood memories involve drawing. It made me feel special as a child, and still does. I went to art school because I was ready for challenges. I knew I had the potential to grow as an artist. I also wanted to be around other artists, both teachers and students, people who I hoped would understand me.

MC D

CJ: Where does your love of storytelling come from? What stories have greatly influenced you?

MC: I am the oldest of three, and there’s a considerable age gap. For seven years, I was an only child, and I really had to maintain an active imagination to entertain myself alone at home, making up stories and acting them out. Then, when my sister and brother came along, I liked telling them stories.

Probably the stories that influenced me the most as a child were from a compilation of Golden Books – Tibor Gergely’s Great Big Book of Bedtime Stories. My mother says that when I was little, I made her read me The Little Red Caboose ad nauseam.

CJ: You spent time in Seattle working as a graphic designer. What did you do as a graphic designer and what did you learn from that experience?

MC: I started working in graphic design because it is so hard trying to be an illustrator right out of college. It was a way to pay the bills and still be creative. I started out at the very bottom as an unpaid intern, as I had no design experience even from school. Then, I started doing small freelance gigs for little or nothing while I worked as an office admin at a creative staffing agency. I really got to know the industry working behind the scenes, and eventually, I became one of their hired hands. I contracted at companies like Cranium and Microsoft for several years. Eventually, I became a full-time designer for Geocaching.com, where I eventually became the design manager. From there, I went back to freelance, working for companies like Amazon and Capital Group.

I learned so much being a designer that has influenced the way I make books. I have a strong sense of typography and layout now, which has strengthened my compositional skills. Meanwhile, working in corporate America taught me a lot about how businesses work and how to interact with a team to create a product.

CJ: You were the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Queer Getting Married, a wedding stationery company that provided invitations, save the dates, and more. What were your biggest takeaways from this experience?

MC: The funny thing about our little start-up is that my business partner and I opened QGM as a means to make a living working for ourselves while we tried to get published. However, I got my book deal before we even launched! We just closed our cyber doors several months ago, as both of our lives have changed dramatically since opening. My biggest takeaways are:

  1. If you’re going to start a business, it really has to be your one and only focus.
  2. Advertising and marketing are key. We had a great product, and no advertising money. It can be a hard pill to swallow, but without investors, it’s really hard to compete with the big dogs.
  3. It’s hard to predict what the consumers will want when you’re trying something that hasn’t been done before. We were trying to cater to a niche market, and it turns out that most just wanted the same old invites as everyone else. You can do all the market research you want, but sometimes, you just won’t know how sales will be until it’s out there.

Mike Curato Cover

CJ: Your lifelong goal of becoming a published author and illustrator of children’s books was achieved when Henry Holt Books for Young Readers (Macmillan) offered you a 3-book deal featuring the adorable Little Elliot. How incredible! What steps did you take in order to achieve this lifelong goal?

MC: Well, the biggest and hardest step was creating work for myself that I loved. It’s difficult to come home from a full-time job and commit to doing even more work. But, we have this one life, and so you just have to push through it. I booked a show at a local cafe to give myself a deadline, and then set about creating images for an exhibit, which ultimately became my new portfolio. The show was a success. A month later, I attended a conference by the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators. Attendees can submit their work into a portfolio showcase there, which is seen by many art directors and editors in the children’s publishing industry. I ended up winning first place, which got me a lot of attention. Elliot appeared multiple times in my portfolio, and everyone wanted to know what his story was. The next day I had emails and voicemails from editors, art directors, and agents. From there, everything eventually fell into place!

CJ: When writing and illustrating books for kids, what things do you take into consideration? How do you approach word usage, language, and visuals?

MC: Well, making a picture book is much like a dance. I usually start with some rough sketches, then write some words, and I go back and forth for months until a story emerges. Though I think picture books are for everyone, they have to be inclusive of early readers, so much of the story is conveyed via the illustrations. The words are there to support wherever the images need help conveying the plot, which is why my texts are usually very sparse. A lot of redundancies are edited out.

Mike Curato Cover 2

CJ: What is your book writing and illustration process? Do you have a routine or a strict schedule?

MC: I do not have a strict schedule per se. Every book is different. Some days I work a lot, some days the magic is just not coming. Meanwhile, deadlines are great motivational tools for me. I try to break a project down into milestones to keep me on track (and also to feel some form of accomplishment on the long road to the finished product).

CJ: Every day in your life must look different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

MC: Ha! The days of the week are quite abstract to me. I work when I need to work, and I take off when I need to take off. I actually enjoy working weekends and taking off on a weekday. I guess “Monday” is the day I need to get back to work, which can be challenging. I need to trick myself into getting to work. I set little goals to coax myself back into the groove.

MC B

CJ: What should a young adult who wants to be a children’s book author and/or illustrator do now to set him or herself up for success?

MC: Well, most importantly, an aspiring writer/illustrator needs to read as many children’s books as possible. You need to know what’s out there. What are the classics? What is current? What speaks to you?

Then, you have to do your industry homework. One needs to remember, though making books is usually born out of a passion, it is still a business. You wouldn’t show up for an interview at Apple and not know what an iPod is. Look up your regional Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators chapter and try to get to some meetings or a conference. Find out how a book is constructed. Keep tabs on what publishing house the books you like are with, then try to find out who edited them. If you’re an illustrator, start sending out promotional materials to art directors. If you’re a writer, find a writing critique group. If you’re an artist, try to get feedback from an art director (I actually was able to get a lot of feedback as a student from real art directors because I wasn’t looking for work, so take advantage of that generosity while you can).

I would also stress the importance of having an agent in today’s publishing world. It is very hard to get published without an agent, as many houses do not want unsolicited manuscripts. If you don’t know how much you’re worth and how to demand that worth, you need an advocate who will fight for the best deal. Most literary agents take 10-15% commission, but will most likely be able to get you more money than you would on your own. Finding an agent also requires researching an agent to make sure they’re legitimate and a good fit. What authors/illustrators do they represent? What books have they gotten deals for? What houses do they have connections with? How long have they been doing this? Also, do you feel comfortable working with this person? If all goes well, you’ll be together for a very long time.

CJ: What are some books, resources, and websites that have influenced you – either personally or professionally (or both)?

MC: The Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators really is the go-to resource for “pre-published” authors, as they like to say.

Get acquainted with the major publications about children’s publishing:

School Library Journal

The Horn Book

Kirkus

Publisher’s Weekly

Booklist

There are some really great “kidlit” podcasts out there, where you can learn about the industry and hear from working authors and illustrators:

Let’s Get Busy

Brain Burps for Books

PW KidsCast

The Yarn

There are tons of blogs dedicated to talking about children’s literature, mostly book reviews and author/illustrator interviews. These are written by librarians, who are perhaps authors & illustrators’ greatest advocates. This list is the tip of the iceberg, but these are some of the best:

Watch. Connect. Read.

Sharpread

7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Librarian in Cute Shoes

Kidlit Frenzy

Read, Write, Reflect

Teach Mentor Texts

Nerdy Book Club

MC E

CJ: When you’re not working on your next book or other design projects, how do you like to spend your time?

MC: Eating, sleeping, karaokeing, and watching movies – not necessarily in that order, preferably with friends.

CJ: What are you working to improve upon – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?

MC: As someone who works at a desk all day, I have been trying to really take care of my body lately. I’ve been going to yoga and pilates several times a week (luckily there’s a studio around the corner from me), and I’m trying to eat healthier. I also work from home, so it’s important to get out of the house at least once a day for a walk.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

MC: It may sound corny, but “don’t give up!” When you’re fresh out of school, survival is usually at the top of one’s list. Sometimes we have to take jobs we don’t want to do. Sometimes we have to eat Ramen noodles for a few months. But I think it’s important to have a dream to motivate you to better yourself. Working towards the dream makes all the crappy jobs and Ramen noodles worth it in the long run.

Mike Curato Qs

Cover Image by Mike Curato; Images by Carpe Juvenis

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We met Ariana Austin after work one warm Washington, D.C. evening last spring. The conversation was meant to last just half an hour, but we ended up talking for over two. So when we say that Ariana is generous with her time, spirit, and energy, we have the proof to back it up. We talked about everything from why she decided to study English Lit in college, to how she manages her time as an entrepreneur and team leader. As the Founder of Art All Night, she knows how to tackle projects from start to finish and bring entire communities together. By carrying over her skills and talents from all parts of life, we are inspired by Ariana’s courage to dive right into her passions and turn them into a fruitful career.

Name: Ariana Austin
Education: B.A. English Literature, Fisk University and M.Ed, Arts in Education, Harvard University
Location: New York City
Follow: Twitter / French Thomas

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Ariana Austin: Being curious; for experiences, for people, traveling to different places, studying what you want. Honoring that openness while relatively free of responsibility.

CJ: You majored in English Literature at Fisk University. How did you determine what to study?

AA: I have loved to read and write since childhood – I just followed my passion.

CJ: You spent some time at the University of Oxford. What were you studying and how was that experience?

AA: I studied “postcolonial” literature — a contentious term for literature from formerly colonized nations. It was very intense — the most rigorous academic experience I’ve had but a first-read of some of my now favorite novels, and a nuanced look at the most difficult of topics: who has power and who does not.

CJ: What was your first job out of college?

AA: When I graduated from college, I had a press internship on the hill, worked part-time for the Oxford Study Abroad Program (that I went to as a student), and in a boutique.

CJ: You founded Art All Night. Please tell us more about the organization and what your roles as Founder and Creative Director entail.

AA: Art All Night is a nighttime arts and culture festival. I founded the festival in 2010 after having lived in Paris and experiencing the original “nuit blanche.” My work involves sketching out the big picture for the night, then securing venues (many are vacant or non-traditional art spaces), cultural partners to curate them, managing the overall artist call, and working with galleries and more established spaces to open their doors late.

ArianaAustin_4

CJ: What does a day in your life look like?

AA: Depending on what two or three projects I’m working on every few months is different. These days my schedule is to work from my apartment in Brooklyn. I’m working on two projects – Draw NYC – a wonderful initiative designed to get New Yorkers drawing in public space and Art All Night. Typically: I try to keep to a regular schedule and work from 10am-6pm. In the morning, I get to action items, conceptual work, and priority meetings and calls, and in the afternoon emails. Around 4pm I stop for a tea break, it’s relaxing and a nice way to break up the day; I know I still have another 2 hours to get things done.

CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to run their own company do to set him or herself up for success? What’s the first step he or she should take?

AA: Start before you’re ready. Start a precursor to a business when you have that initial passion, even if you’re not sure of the exact structure. Organize around that spark and be flexible with changing course. Create something that is yours that you can grow and build and learn through. Have fun with it.

CJ: Was there ever a moment that greatly influenced or encouraged you to jump into entrepreneurship?

AA: During graduate school, I went on a trip sponsored by the Harvard Innovation Lab to NYC to meet with cultural entrepreneurs. We met with really great people: Arianna Huffington, Diane von Furstenberg, the founders of Rent the Runway, and more. I spent that week really critically thinking about starting a culture business. I hadn’t expected to do it this soon, but I knew it would happen someday. It feels good to have invested in it fully from the very beginning.

ArianaAustin_2

CJ: How do you deal with and overcome tough days?

AA: With big projects, this is hard because often a lot rides on one day or one event. I try to isolate the source of the stress (is it related to getting something done, asking for something specific, variables beyond your control etc). If it can be handled, I just do it. If I need extra support, I talk to family and friends to help figure out a solution. But there is something to big projects where 48 hours or so before you have to be kind of Zen-like and let it go and be in execution mode. You work as much and as hard as humanly possible, but then there are situations where you have to let go – learning that will make a happier producer. Also, at the end of the day when I’m done, I’m done. I need those hours to go out or be home, have a glass of wine and recharge for the next day. I’m almost always refreshed and ready to go after a good nights sleep. 

CJ: What is something in your life – professional or personal – that you’re working to improve on and how are you doing that?

AA: Personally: keeping up with friends and family more consistently. 

CJ: How do you measure success?

AA: I am a very focused person so I have a couple of key goals and everything I do should feed into those goals ultimately. Success for me is getting things done at a steady pace and producing at a high quality both professional and more personal projects, that I’m happy with my work and so are my clients. Beyond that, being content and finding joy throughout the day. 

CJ: You’ve traveled quite a bit and moved for work – what is the best travel and moving advice you can share?

Take your spirit, leave your baggage. I wrote it in an article once and have since tried to follow my own advice.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

AA: Wise words from Kanye West: Steer clear of “opportunities” and focus on dreams.

Ariana Austin Qs

Image: Morgan West / A Creative D.C.

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

It is always pure joy seeing a Broadway show. The actors are insanely talented, the music is catchy, the costumes are gorgeous, and the set designs are stunning. When it comes to set design, one show in particular stands out in our minds: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, a musical about Monty Navarro, an heir to a family fortune who sets out to jump the line of succession by eliminating the eight pesky relatives who stand in his way. We saw the show last year on Broadway, and not only did the show blow us away with its dark humor, wit, and enjoyable show tunes, but the set was so grand that it was essentially its own character.

We were over the moon when we had the opportunity to interview the award winning theater, opera, and dance stage designer Alexander Dodge. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is just one of the many incredible sets he has designed (also for which he received his second Tony Award Nomination!). Alexander has also designed for productions such as Julius Caesar, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Tempest, and Twelfth Night.

In addition to two Tony Award Nominations, a Lortel Award, a Drama Desk Nomination, and an Outer Critics Circle Nomination, he has also been the recipient of two Elliot Norton Awards, three Independent Reviewers of New England Awards, two Connecticut Critics Circle Awards, two San Diego Critics Circle Awards, and a Bay Area Critics Award. Alexander continues to impress with his attention to detail and incredible designs.

Born in Switzerland, Alexander grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona. He attended Bennington College in Vermont, spent a semester abroad in London, and later trained with the talented Ming Cho Lee at the Yale School of Drama. Alexander’s credentials and experiences with stage design makes him stand out above his peers, and even with his continued success, he is a pleasure to talk to and is generous with his time. Also, this September, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder goes on tour! If the tour is coming to your city, you’ll be able to see the amazing set design Alexander has created.

Name: Alexander Dodge
Education: BA in Drama from Bennington College; MFA in Design from Yale School of Drama
Follow: alexanderdodgedesign.com

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Alexander Dodge: Do things you want to do when you can and when you’re young. I have a one-year-old son and I’m focused on getting him to understand the idea of doing all the things he can when he can. You never know what’s going to come ahead in life that will stop you from doing something you could have done when you were young.

CJ: You majored in Drama from Bennington College. How did you decide what to major in?

AD: What’s great about Bennington is that they’re all about learning by doing and want you to dabble in a lot of things before deciding what to major in. Every year you have a work semester so my first year I worked in a gallery in Soho, my second year I worked in San Diego at the Old Globe Theater, my third year I worked at the Young Vic in London, and my fourth year I worked at Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. I had these great experiences of learning what was good or what wasn’t for me. After a couple of years of that I figured out what I really liked doing. And we had a great performing arts center there – it was the same size as one you’d find at a major university but for 500 students. That was incredible. You could get lost in some of the backstage stuff, it was really cool.

CJ: You also received your master’s of fine arts degree in Design from Yale School of Drama where you trained with Ming Cho Lee. What inspired you to go back to school to receive this degree?

AD: Going to Yale was great because it was completely structured – in the three years there was only one elective class you could take. Which is great in a way and I loved being at a large university for a while. The campus was awesome, and Ming Cho Lee is amazing. I absorbed so much and it was so important being there and being around the other students who you learn so much from. So many places teach you different skills, and Ming Cho Lee was really about teaching you to become an artist. To really see, and really look, and figure out how to interpret the world around you.

CJ: How do you work with the rest of the crew to create the physical stage that the audience sees?

AD: Unlike architects we don’t have engineering backgrounds, so we’re not required to know exactly how to construct and put things together, but we make suggestions and we’re really only responsible for the look. So there’s a technical director for each project – either based at a theater or based at a commercial shop. If you’re doing a Broadway show there aren’t any scene shops here so everything gets built elsewhere. So I’ll give them a pretty good sense of the technical drawings, and then they’ll really figure out how to construct it. I’ll also give them a color model, renderings, paint elevations and all that, and they’ll then take those drawings and do technical drawings of what’s inside and what’s actually keeping the walls up. You also work very closely with the director to figure out how you can put everything together in the space you have to work with.

AD 2 - 1

CJ: You are a set and costume designer for theater, opera, and dance. What does it mean to be a designer, and what do your daily tasks look like?

AD: Today is all about finishing up a model and coming up with new designs I’m doing for a new show this summer, as well as reading a play I just got offered. So it really depends. It tends to be office time when I’m in the city, but I fly all the time and it’s a lot of travel.

CJ: When starting a new project, what does your process look like?

AD: Collaboration is the name of the game. I find that the shows I’ve worked on that have been the most successful are the ones that we all work together. I’ve also done shows where I basically hand them the set design and they go with it. Other times it’s a lot of back and forth and figuring it out together, which can feel much more satisfying. Also the director might have a take on the piece that’s important. The text is read first and foremost, then I go to the director and talk about what he or she thinks, then there’s interaction with the costume designer an the lighting designer. Usually costumes and set are what we start with because of the nature of how long those things take to create and build. We have to start right away. Nothing is by chance – everything has to be decided, down to the buttons and the trim on the jackets, the height of the door frame, and so on.

CJ: What is an important skill you need as a set designer?

AD: Trying to carve out time for myself is really good. If I don’t go to the gym in the morning and have my time, I’ll have a million excuses to not go in the afternoon. But it’s time for myself and it’s important for my own sanity. Even though I’m on the road a lot, trying to keep a business routine is really good too. This past year I’ve made a big push to carve out vacation time, because before that it was all about trying to grab a weekend here or a weekend there, and that was kind of it. But the theater is very different where we plow through national holidays and don’t really have a typical summer season because there are always shows going on. I remember once I did a show in Boston and we started technical rehearsal on December 26th and we went right through the New Year – it was a whirlwind of work at a time when you’d really love to be with your family.

CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care about? If so, why?

AD: Something I care a lot about is LGBT youth and youth programs like the Hetrick-Martin Institute. There’s also a program called Live Out Loud which provides scholarships for LGBT youth. I also love smaller theater groups like The Civilians – they do a whole variety of investigative theater, which is so interesting.

CJ: What should a young adult who wants to be a set and costume designer do now to set him or herself up for success?

AD: I think try to get out and see as many things as possible is important, especially if you’re close to any major theater area. Even if you’re in a smaller town, take advantage of what’s there. Familiarize yourself with what you’re interested in. Try to travel to places that offer different shows. Seizing those things, especially if you want to do this business, is important. And see a variety of things – see operas, concerts, modern dance, and museums.

CJ: What are you working to improve upon – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?

AD: Being more present and taking more time for my family and me is something that I’m really working on. It’s difficult with work, but I don’t want to be that person where my job is everything. Time with your family is not to be undervalued.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

AD: I would say don’t major in drama – branch out more than you did. I think that I zoomed in on what I knew I wanted to do, but in hindsight I’m thinking it would have been good to take an anthropology class or more science courses. In grad school I decided I wanted to be in a show for the first time, and it was great. I was on the stage at Yale University and it was such a great experience.

Alexander Dodge Qs

Images by Carpe Juvenis

Book PostsTravel

There’s no shortage of activities and sites to see in Washington, D.C. Our nation’s capital is an energetic hub of history and progress. Whether you’re attending school, interning on The Hill, or landmark hopping, D.C. is an exciting place to be. The last time we were in D.C., we were earning our Congressional Award Gold Medals. Before and after the ceremony, however, we took advantage of being in close proximity to iconic memorials and landmarks.

You likely won’t be able to fit in all that the city has to offer in one trip, so we narrowed down our list into the top 10 must-see places, both popular and off the beaten path.

1.  The White House

2. The Lincoln Memorial

3. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial

4. National Gallery of Art

5. Smithsonian Museums

6. The Roof of the Kennedy Center

7. Arlington National Cemetery

8. Visit the Library of Congress

9. Hike or bike along the Potomac River

10. Explore Dumbarton Oaks

What are your favorite things to do in Washington, D.C.?

Image: Vadim Sherbakov

CultureLearn

read

These are the articles #TeamCarpe read and loved this week. What did you enjoy reading?

Travel

10 tricks that travel writers swear by. You, too, can learn their secrets.

Creative

Graphic designer Annie Atkins created an entire world with props in Wes Anderson’s Oscar-nominated film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. How cool does her job sound?

Be Amazed

Vietnam-based artist Adam Tran created stunning origami models of prehistoric creatures. Very impressive.

Watch

PBS created a documentary on Dr. Atul Gawande’s book, Being Mortal. Gawande explores how doctors talk to patients about death and dying and the struggle it entails.

Write

There are so many great health benefits to writing. Try writing daily!

Apply

Thinking about your summer internship already? Maybe one of these 25 highest rated companies for internships might be of interest.

Rethink

Get ready, because in spring 2016 there’s a new redesigned SAT in town.

Image: Carpe Juvenis

CultureTravel

With the perfect blend of Southern charm and eclectic flavor, the fine city of Savannah should absolutely be on your list of cities to visit. Since I was a child, my grandparents hauled my brother and I all across their historic city, exposing us to every neat nook and cranny it has to offer. Sprawling with hundreds of acres of lush, Spanish moss-draped parks and stunning 18th century architecture, Savannah is surely worth a trip — a day trip, at the very least! If you ever find you have a day in “The Hostess City of the South,” I have the perfect itinerary for you.

Morning

Rise and shine – it’s time to get the day started! In my opinion, there is no better way to start off a lovely Savannah day than with a visit to Forsythe Park. At 30 pristine acres, this park is the largest in the city. Feel free to wake up your mind and body with a jog or yoga under the cool, mossy trees. If it’s Saturday, take time perusing the massive farmers market hosted there. This is also a great time to practice your “southern charm,” as Savannah locals love to smile and chat.

After your morning exercise, get ready to chow down at one of the best breakfast spots in the city, J. Christopher’s. This is a regional chain that actually began in Atlanta, but lucky for us, they converted a garage right in the heart of Savannah’s Historic District into one of their laid-back establishments. Go for their Blueberry Crunchcakes (pancakes made with crunchy granola) or one of their many breakfast skillets, with a coffee served in their mismatched coffee mugs. They even have a pet menu for your trusty sidekick. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Afternoon

Now it is time for a history lesson. Old Savannah Tours has been providing tourists with fun, comprehensive trolley tours of the Historic District since 1979. I recommend the unlimited Historic On/Off Tour because you can pick and choose what Savannah sites to explore on your own time. Be sure to hop-off at The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist to see its exquisite murals, the Sorrel-Weed House to experience true antebellum architecture, and the City Market for a bit of shopping.

In case you haven’t already grabbed a quick bite during the tour, try to make it to Joe’s Homemade Café in midtown Savannah. I admit, I have not made it there yet, but I hear this place is all-around remarkable. Joe’s is not a sit-down restaurant; they specialize in “picnic” and “to-go” foods, such as their infamous Forsyth sandwich and lemon cheesecake. Sounds like a winner to me.

Evening

Properly reflect on your day over a delicious meal on the rooftop of Local 11 Ten, a restored 1950’s bank-turned-contemporary-restaurant. This trendy spot changes its menu with the seasons, featuring innovative winter dishes like confit pork belly with pan roasted quail, warm caselvetrano olives with bacon, smoked bone marrow, and Sapelo Island clams. Relish in the soft house music and enjoy this truly unique dining experience.

For those wanting something a bit more soulful, try Huey’s on the River, a restaurant that actually serves authentic New Orleans’s cuisine. Their menu has the works. I’m talking shrimp & grits, fried green tomatoes, filé gumbo, Po’boys, and beignets. In proper Louisiana fashion, the place is friendly and just the right amount of noisy.

Last and surely not least, take a night stroll along Savannah’s lively River Street. Along the wide Savannah River, this cobblestoned street is always bustling with crowds enjoying nightlife, street performers, antique shops, and quaint boutiques. Stop by River Street Sweets to pick up the necessary Southern candies – pralines and fudge, of course – and then continue down toward the river to sit and enjoy the cooling breeze.

Time-Permitting

If you have a bit more time during the day, check out some contemporary art at the SCAD Museum of Art or be brave and go on a walking ghost tour of the most haunted city in America.

There we have it – a day of fun in the ever-charming city of Savannah. Enjoy!

*Going to Philadelphia? Check out these places!

Image: Aysia Woods

CultureVolunteerism

What makes slam poetry so different? It’s an open diary. It’s no secret slam poetry leaves your skin goose bumped and your jaw dropped, at least a bit. Hearing passionate meaningful words leaves your mind with overwhelming memories, questions, and thoughts. Slam poetry originated forty years ago but has just risen in popularity. Poetry is honest – it’s what makes poetry. But slam poetry is more than honest- it is human. It is hedonistic: both liberating and torturous. Here are five other reasons to love and appreciate slam poetry:

1. Liberating

Genuine thoughts can become courageous words. Slam poets take the risk of being judged and questioned but the benefits outweigh the costs. Each recited poem is weight lifted from their shoulders and new ideas shared.

2. Remarkable

Listening to slam poetry does many things to us. But if we remember one main thing, it’s how it made us feel. Slam poetry touches the very depths of your feelings. I’ve had epiphanies because of the slam poetry I have witnessed. Poetry does not ask permission to express what needs to be said. Sometimes it makes you feel comfortable and other times it does just the opposite – that is part of what makes this form of art so remarkable.

3. Revolutionary

Slam poetry is perhaps the most excusable form of revolt since it is thoughts written on paper. Because it is thoughts that are soulful, wholesome, and permissible, the words get away with a lot. Freedom of speech does poets a lot of good when criticizing the pillars of our society, politics, and ideals.

4. Honest

The thing about writing is that it allows you to get things off of your chest. It essentially serves as the psychologist who doesn’t really exist. You tell this psychologist , aka journal, everything about your life: your feelings, emotions, opinions, angers, disappointments, excitements, happiness, sadness, achievements, criticisms, failures, regrets, and everything you experience in your day to day life. It becomes an art, an authentic art.

5. Impactful

When writing poetry, there is one goal: to write something meaningful. It doesn’t need to be prudent or polite. Slam poetry criticizes society, rethinks politics, and takes a stance on a controversy. It screams what may be deemed taboo and embraces what makes us feel upset. Writers want to leave you thinking and they want to leave thoughts lingering in the minds of their audience in order to plant the seed of change.

Slam poetry is practicing both writing poetry and performing on stage which, in unison, create a beautiful form of art. I encourage you to take the time to check out a local event – you won’t regret it!

Image: Flickr

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We fell in love with Katie Evans’ designs when we first laid eyes on them. It’s not hard to adore her bright and colorful designs. Having freelanced, worked at kate spade, West Elm, and Gap, Katie is no stranger to hard work and late nights. Now working as the Art Director at Ivanka Trump, Katie is involved with social media, editorial stories, and marketing. We were very excited to meet with Katie at the Ivanka Trump office in New York City, which is powdery pink and filled with inspirational images and quotes. We are motivated by Katie’s creativity and hard work, and we know you’ll be just as inspired.

Name: Katie Evans
Education: B.F.A. in Graphic Design from the Maryland Institute College of Art
Follow: @heykatieevans / katie-evans.com / ivankatrump.com

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Katie Evans: Taking chances and not being afraid to make mistakes. You’re young and now is the time to experiment with what makes you happy and what doesn’t.

CJ: You received your BFA in Graphic Design from the Maryland Institute College of Art. What sparked your love of design?

KE: I attended an arts magnet middle school and high school where I was a visual arts major concentrating in drawing, painting, and sculpture. In high school I continued those studies and did a crossover into the Communications department to take a graphic design class. CD album covers and booklets were what originally sparked my interest in design. I remember pinning them on my bedroom walls. I also designed a couple of covers for my friends’ bands.

When I was a junior in college, I still didn’t know exactly where I wanted to take my career. A professor gave me an assignment to spend a weekend collecting anything that I was attracted to. The next week I brought back a bunch of Martha Stewart’s Blueprint Magazines, editorial shoots from Lucky Magazine, and a bunch of fashion ad campaigns. My professor was like, “Duh, you should be in fashion.” I questioned her about how I could play a role in fashion as a graphic designer. She told me that fashion companies need graphic designers – they do the windows, the packaging, and the hangtags, etc.

Katie c

CJ: You are the Art Director at Ivanka Trump. What does your role entail? 

KE: Ivanka started her licensee businesses a while ago, and she recently hired a small team to revamp and bring new life to the brand. We recently launched our new site, ivankatrump.com, that includes articles on work, style, travel, home and play.

I concept all of our editorial content on the site and our social media channels. Everyone does a bit of everything here because we are so small, which is great because you can be involved with different aspects of the brand. Our team makes all of our ideas come to life. I still do graphic design which I think a lot of Art Directors don’t do anymore. It keeps me on my toes.

CJ: You freelanced as an Art Director, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Consultant for years while also maintaining jobs. How did you go about securing freelance work, and what advice do you have for those interested in freelancing?

KE: I originally started freelancing because I needed the extra money. I always had a steady job and paycheck to fall back on, and freelancing let me experiment and find out what worked and what didn’t. For my first freelance job, I was paid $500 to design 10 different stationery cards for a new company. Looking back on that now is crazy to me. I want to smack my 22-year-old self and ask what I was thinking! I spent so much time on those cards. It should’ve been $500/per design. When I figured out what I wanted my freelance projects to be, I was able to pick the ones I liked the most. Most of my jobs came from word of mouth with a mix of referrals from social media and LinkedIn. I did freelance as a career for a little bit, and then Ivanka Trump lured me back into the corporate world.

If you’re thinking about going strictly freelance, you have to be passionate about what you’re doing. You have to be a go getter or you will go nowhere. You also have to be organized because now you are a bookkeeper, assistant, answering emails all day, and you still have to pump out the creative. It took time, but I was able to figure out how long projects would take me and account for client feedback to get it all done in time to start my next project. It was tricky to find that right calculation, so being flexible was important.

When I first went full-time freelance, I had nine clients. It was a disaster on my side, but I put on a good face for my clients. I had no social life, I was overworked, and I will never make that mistake again. I think the happy medium was 3-4 clients, with 2 recurring clients and 2 rotating projects. I had to be very strict with my clients about deadlines so that it didn’t interfere with other jobs.

women who work

CJ: How did you stay organized and efficient while balancing freelancing with your corporate jobs as a Graphic Designer?

KE: Google. Google has helped me do everything. I used spreadsheets for my bookkeeping and the calendar for meetings and deadlines. I would have each client assigned a different color so I could visually see the different projects I had. It worked because I could access those files from wherever I was – whether it was on my computer or phone.

CJ: You’ve worked as a graphic and web designer at some amazing places such as kate spade, West Elm, and Gap. What are your biggest takeaways from these experiences?

KE: The biggest thing I learned was that if I’m not passionate about the brand and what I’m marketing, I can’t do my job 100%. At kate spade, I lived and breathed that brand. The projects were so much fun. The kate spade team was very small so I was able to get my hands on everything, from window installations to stationery collections to working on photo shoots. I loved that so, so much. Every day was different and I was building a great portfolio.

The other companies I’ve worked for were much larger and at those jobs I was hired to do one thing and that thing only. They had huge teams to do everything and I realized through those experiences that I thrive better in smaller environments where I can play a part in all aspects of a project. I like to see things from start to finish.

CJ: What is the best part about being a designer? The most challenging part?

KE: The best part is telling stories. Just being able to tell a story about what a girl is doing and what she’s wearing and what she’s thinking and feeling. Finding a way to bring that story to life is the best part.

The most challenging part is finding the balance between making something beautiful but also selling that product. It’s tough to be conscious of both.

Katie a

 

CJ: Every day in your life must be different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

KE: 7am: Rise and shine! Go for a run! #TeamIvanka is training for a half-marathon in April. Most of us are new runners and can’t imagine running 13 miles. So far 4.5 has been my most.

9am: Take the F train uptown. Read theSkimm on my ride up.

10am: Write out my to-do’s for the day. Respond to emails.

10:30am – 2pm: Plan our next editorial shoot, pull inspiration, select models, snap a photo of Ivanka for Instagram, and edit videos.

2:00pm: Lunch! If I eat too early the day goes by much slower.

2:30 – 5:30pm: Work with our Editorial Director to plan the next month of stories. Call people and brands that we want to collaborate with, design creative for our social media channels, a little bit of pinning to Pinterest.

5:30 – 6:00pm: Regroup with my creative team to make sure we’re meeting deadlines.

6:00pm: Out the door!

Trump Tower

CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to be an Art Director or Graphic Designer do now to set themselves up for success?

KE: Be multifaceted in your line of work. If you’re a graphic designer, take a variety of art classes and learn as much as you can. You’ll be more valuable to your employer. As a designer, explore print, packaging, publication, digital, and visual. It will set you up later in your career to think about a project holistically.

Also, be nice. It still blows my mind how small this world is.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

KE: I just finished reading You Before Me by JoJo Moyes. I laughed and cried.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

KE: I like to take deep breaths, go to the gym, and shop.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

KE: Your career path is going to be hard work, but it’s going to be worth it. And pay attention in your foundation art classes! Find a way to enjoy it and embrace your art style. You may think they’re boring, but they’re teaching you the basics of art that will come up in every aspect of your job.

Katie Evans Qs

Image: Carpe Juvenis

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Erik Fabian has always enjoyed performing. As an artist working in performance, installation, and conceptual art, Erik is interested in the interaction between people and how “space and circumstances around that interaction shape your experience.” Erik is a graduate of the Master of FIne Arts program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his experience at grad school greatly changed his work.

While working as an artist, Erik is also the Director of Brand & PR at Moleskine America. Erik tells stories about the Moleskine brand’s values while also inspiring people to create more. We’re definitely inspired – as huge fans of putting pen to paper, we are guilty of carrying our Moleskine notebooks around with us everywhere we go to note down ideas and to-dos.

Though busy, Erik has great tips for managing his time. How does he do it exactly? By identifying two or three big goals for the day, as well as smaller tasks to accomplish. Keep reading to learn more about Erik’s successful career, his creative process, and the simple yet effect things he does when he needs to unwind or reset.

Name: Erik Fabian
Age: 38
Education:
The Evergreen State College and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Follow: @ErikFabianInstagram / ErikAndTheAnimals.com

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth?”

Erik Fabian: Take responsibility for your own happiness, impact, growth, and future. The sooner you take responsibility for yourself the more you can enjoy your youth and make choices that will help you enjoy your adulthood. I would define “responsibility” as being able to explain your choices and being willing to stand behind your actions whatever the outcome.

CJ: You are an artist working in performance, installation, and conceptual art. What sparked your interest in art, and why specifically performance art and installation?

EF: I have always enjoyed performing. I think of it as this very big, philosophical playground and lab. It is a kind of play that gets lost as you get older. During a performance rules of interaction can be rewritten and questions about the world can be explored. I also like that performance can be so physical.

I became particularly interested in how people interact and how the space and circumstances around that interaction shape your experience. That led me to create more installations and events. I currently express this interest mostly through my role at Moleskine in creating events and partnerships with artists/cultural organizations.

Erik F

CJ: You are a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). What was that experience like and how did you determine where to study?

EF: At the time I wanted to explore performance in a broad sense…that included both the history of theater and the history of visual arts. That choice narrowed my options. You can do more tradition theater work in several places or be the conceptual/performance person in a more visual arts focused program but a mix is rare. When I met the faculty at SAIC I felt it was a pretty good fit and it was a well-regarded school and I was fortunate to get accepted.

I loved being a grad student and having the time and resources to think alongside very talented people. I enjoyed getting a stronger sense of visual art history and how visual artists work. It also gave me a vocabulary to talk about my work and other people’s work. The experience did change my work a great deal. For one thing, I wanting to experience how to make solo work after working collaboratively for a long time and had time to do that. The funny thing is that most visual artists I met had worked solo for so long and were looking for collaboration.

In the end your network is a key professional asset you take from any graduate school experience. I unfortunately didn’t want to live in Chicago permanently and left much of that network behind after the program. If you can, go to school where you want to live.

CJ: Your work explores notions of value and how we value art and the experience of performance. How do you come up with ideas and topics for your work, and what is your creative process?

EF: If I am working alone, I just follow my interests. My interests are usually are obvious based on the kind of reading and media I am consuming. I read a lot. I consume a lot of media. When working with others, it starts with conversations about interests and using formal idea development sessions. I am the kind of person who has way more ideas than time and resources to execute them.

To develop an idea into something for sharing, I set some kind of restraints around a project based on my interests, current resources and go from there. The process helps refine/reduce all my ideas and to fill in the blanks where needed. My process is a combo of doing structured, practical things and just noodling on ideas. For instance on the practical side, I start with making a calendar and working backwards, setting goals that lead to the result I want. On the looser side, I tend to draw lots of simple representation of ideas for aspects of the work.

Often I find I have clear ideas about the space and sequence of events first. I also tend to summarize the project as a kind of poster at some point. Getting on your feet and doing things rather than talking is a powerful way to move things forward when making a performance. When doing other kinds of projects, rapid-prototyping is the same kind of idea with a similar contribution to the process.

Erik F 3

CJ: What advice would you give to a young person who wants to be an artist and creatively branch out on their own?

EF: First on the creative side, don’t ever be shy about pursuing your creative life. Everyone has a creative spark – nurture it, practice daily if you can, find what thrills you, hang out with other creative people, consume art that excites you, and enjoy yourself. With that said, I think your question is asking more how to become an “artist” as in not someone who doesn’t just makes stuff but has an audience and ultimately might be a professional.

I say don’t become an “artist.” There are too many vague “artists” in the world and the opportunities to express yourself isn’t limited to just traditional mediums like painting or poetry. You need to become something much more specific and powerful than an “artist.” “Artists” rarely have a sufficient audience to sustain a professional career. I know a ton of talented people who are doing odd jobs so they can paint or whatever and maybe get a lucky break. I have heard that most MFA graduates stop making work in six or seven years after graduation which I find sad and it should scare you. Find a niche where your interests, talents, refined craft, and the story you tell about yourself makes you very different than everyone else.

Andy Warhol isn’t an artist – he is a clever guy who took the notion of the commodification of visual goods and made his life into a metaphor for the industrial system. In doing so he created a ton of work that was easy to sell and still sells while also hanging out with kooky folks and living a life where he got to express ideas to an audience who cares.

You can write a similar blurb about any successful “artist” as well as people who express via entrepreneurship, social work, politics, or whatever. What is the blurb you want people to write about you? Write it without using the word “artist.”

On your way to living your blurb here are a couple other things I have noticed. Take your creative impulses and refine them into a craft – people with good technical skills in any traditional medium always have it easier. Identify a creative process that helps you consistently produce work – people who create a lot of work have it easier. Learn to talk about your work with non-“artists” – people will constantly ask you what you do and need a concrete response and these folks are your potential audience. Think about your work as a business and learn how the business of your relevant art market works – the people who are good at business and marketing have longer and bigger careers. Get really good, be really interesting, get good advice, handle your personal finances responsibly, and don’t let the pursuit of this professional stuff squash your creative self.

CJ: You are also the Director of Brand & PR at Moleskine America. What drew you to Moleskine and what does your job entail?

EF: I basically tell stories about the values that underlie the Moleskine brand. These values are the bedrock that supports the kinds of objects and experiences Moleskine designs and shares in the world. I also have a mandate to expand and protect the brand both as it is understood both among Moleskine America staff and in the public. If you take the time to look at Moleskine.com for instance you will see that the company has a ton of stuff going on. I help spread the word about these activities to our fans and try to inspire folks to create more.

I was attracted to the values of Moleskine and liked the design of the notebooks. The role they offered fit my experience as someone who has a background in the arts and expertise in creating events.

CJ: What has been one of the most unexpectedly interesting parts of your career to date?

EF: I have sat in a privileged seat as the head of the brand at Moleskine America. Moleskine is one of the most passionately loved brands in the world and I am constantly impressed by the creative outpouring Moleskine fans put into their notebooks. I have certainly learned a great deal about building a successful brand and how the power of arts/culture contributes to building a brand like Moleskine.

CJ: Every day in your life must be different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

EF: There are different periods that focus on planning, budgeting, and execution of projects over the year. Most days I start by setting my to-dos and reviewing my calendar. I then jump into emails unless I have a pressing document to write. My days are dotted with meetings both with staff and external folks. Most of the work at an organization of any size is focused on alignment and focusing of everyone’s effort.

CJ: What are your time management tips? How do you stay organized and efficient?

EF: I identify two or three big goals for the day and maybe two to four small tasks I want to get done. This helps me focus. I try to keep my unread email basically at zero. I keep a digital calendar up to date for meetings and create dedicated project calendars for anything important. I take notes in a Moleskine notebook of course and find being able to write/draw ideas and notes helps me be efficient because it roots the information in my brain more powerfully than typing.

CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

EF: Finding time to be as physically active is always a challenge. I am always experimenting with how to be efficient at getting some movement into my week.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

EF: Walking when the weather is warm is great. I like to get out of the city and camp when I have time. I like to cook and go to restaurants. I also read a lot and consume a lot of media. I have been a long time meditator and have found a rigorous seated practice hard to maintain in NYC, but I takes aspects of that practice that I apply throughout my day.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

EF: Don’t wait for anyone else to take action. Go forward and people who are interested in your path will show up alongside you.

Erik Fabian Qs

Image: Erik Fabian, Emilie Baltz, Rachel Scroggins

CultureSkills

This past summer, I had the great pleasure of working on my fourth music video for Dizzy Bats. The project was the second collaboration with LA-based director, Michael Chiu, who also directed and co-produced our music video for “Girls.”

For this particular project, the planning and production was done by Michael and the Director of Photography, Jeanna Kim. The two would have meetings on site at the restaurant we shot at to discuss direction, shot selection, and lighting. From there they picked out a crew to help bring this song and video to life.

On a hot Sunday afternoon in mid-July outside of LA, we all met up at Michael’s Burger around 3 PM, shortly after they had closed for the day. We utilized the entire restaurant and nearly everything at our disposal, which included burger patties and french fries to name a couple. The shoot lasted almost 14 hours and took an unfortunate turn when one of the crew members accidentally left with Michael’s car keys.  It was an absolutely exhausting but exciting day.

Over the last three years and four video shoots, I’ve learned that you really don’t need a lot of money to make a great video, and often times one simple concept can carry a project and make it great. The most important part of any collaboration is finding the right people to team up with; those who are equally driven and devoted to bringing your song to life. So to any bands out there looking to make a video for the first time, shop around for the right director and start brainstorming.

Bringing one of your songs to life through the art of film can be challenging, stressful, and intimidating. From production to shooting to editing to color correction, there is so much that needs to go right in order for a concept to be successfully carried out, and for a video to ultimately look great. In collaborating with so many film people, I continue to be blown away by the artistic drive of these talented individuals, as well as their amazing professionalism. It’s been fascinating to see the commonalities between the two art forms of film and music, while comparing our various stories. Art should never be limited to just one form, and through my work on these music videos, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience the awesome marriage of music and film.

Check out Connor Frost’s Professional Spotlight here.

Image: Connor Frost

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Meet Emily Armstrong. She’s sweet, thoughtful, and insanely talented. At just 23 years old, she is a graphic designer at Barneys New York and is tasked with projects such as creating woodland creature masks for children, designing posters for brand invitations, and collaborating on exclusive cosmetic bags that are incredibly chic.

Passionate about art and illustrating, Emily raves about modern art, her love of design, and how she one day hopes to live in Paris. She is a big-time reader and loves to spend her free time at The Strand. We’re big fans of Emily and her work, and we love the best advice she’s ever received: ‘Make yourself proud every day’ and ‘Focus on your cool.’ It’s pretty obvious that she’s got the cool part down pat.

Name: Emily Armstrong
Age: 23
Education: B.F.A. in Graphic Design and Drawing from the University of Missouri-Columbia
Follow: Blog / Portfolio / Instagram

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Emily Armstrong: I realized that when I was in school, I had such an advantage. People were more likely to reach out to me because I was a student and young. They were willing to share advice because they didn’t see me as competition yet. Seizing my youth meant realizing that I was at such an advantageous place and not letting that hinder me but taking advantage of it.

CJ: You received your BFA in Graphic Design and Drawing from the University of Missouri-Columbia. What sparked your love of design?

EA: My love of art came before my love of design. Art started for me when I was very young. In second grade I was drawing caricatures of my classmates. I realized that I liked to draw clothes and people, but design came later. In college I decided to study art, and my parents were a little hesitant. They introduced graphic design to me as a more marketable skill. I ended up loving it after I took a few classes. Those classes sparked my love for design.

Design is everywhere. The visual language is more personal when you’re so close to design.

Emily A 1

CJ: What was your favorite class in college?

EA: I loved multicultural literature. We read a book about a different culture every few weeks and discussed it and gave presentations. I love reading, and I think it’s a romantic skill and related to art from a storytelling aspect.

I liked my beginning physics class a lot.

My favorite class was my portfolio class. Our first assignment was to create 20 images in any medium, and we only had a couple of weeks. The professor just wanted us to start hashing out our ideas that we had built up and to not overthink the images we were making. I ended up with a lot of cool images that I’m still proud of even though it was my junior year in college. I’m inspired to continue adding on to that body of work.

CJ: You are a Graphic Designer at Barneys New York. What does your role entail?

EA: I’m a print graphic designer, so I make our print collateral – things from signage in the stores to books and catalogs in the mail and invitations for events. I can be really creative with these projects. For example, if a designer uses a print in their collection a lot, we might pull that image and make it a liner in the envelope. I love seeing the finished product and having it in your hands.

Right now I’m working on a special project that is in collaboration with Baz Luhrmann, and I get to do some fun drawings. I drew masks of woodland animals for children who come visit the stores. Barneys gives me the freedom to use my skills and have freedom with my work. I’m so excited to be a part of the Baz campaign – he’s a hero of mine.

Emily A 5

Emily A 4

CJ: You’ve interned at some amazing places such as Donna Karan and Barneys New York. What are your biggest takeaways from these experiences?

EA: A lot of my experience with Donna Karan was really about New York. It was about getting acclimated to New York as well as the internship. No one thought it was lame that I was from Missouri – I thought I was going to stick out like a sore thumb.

I felt really empowered by the city and having this internship. I had never learned about fabric before, and my internship was in the fabric department. They would give me a swatch of fabric and I had to source it in the city. I had to find a similar weight and content of that fabric swatch with a specific price point. I was set free to do the project, and while that might seem overwhelming, to be able to complete a task like that and do it well was the most empowering thing. Donna Karan was about me feeling confident with myself and in the city.

My Barneys internship was instrumental in getting my job now. Because I had the New York experience before, I learned a lot of skills and how to be detail-oriented. I was learning from the best, and this internship was helpful with my aesthetic sensibility.

Emily A 2

CJ: You were a Student Ambassador for Stylitics, the largest digital closet platform on the web. What were your duties as a Student Ambassador?

EA: That was such a crazy chapter in my life because during my first summer here there was a Parsons program put on that I attended. At the networking brunch, I met the founders of Stylitics and they asked me to be a part of this program. My duties were to spread the word about Stylitics, so I did street style photography on-campus, I talked to student reporters, and generated buzz for this company.

The founders wanted to start a high school program, and my sister was in high school at the time, and I offered to help make a promotional poster. A reporter from the Wall Street Journal saw my poster and she reached out. The conversation was about Stylitics and the ambassador program, but I formed that bond with her and ended up being in that huge newspaper.

CJ: What is the best part about being a designer? The most challenging part?

EA: I love arranging elements, making beautiful compositions, and making textures with text.

The most challenging part is my tendency to always want to illustrate everything. I can’t help it. Restraining myself from illustrating, creating something graphic, and working with type.

CJ: Every day in your life must be different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

EA: I like to wake up a little early at 8am so I can make my French press coffee and bagel, and then take some time to read. I get ready, take the train to Rockefeller Center. Recently I’ve been working on a brand’s invitation and poster. After work I love going to yoga. I encourage everyone to do yoga – you get strong, healthy, and energized. Then I go home and eat leftovers.

Emily A 6

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

EA: I try not to let it show in the office ever. After work it’s nice to do some cardio so your brain can be free. Taking that energy from the stress and replacing it in a better way is so important.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

EA: Just Kids by Patti Smith or 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

EA: If you don’t like volleyball, that’s okay. Focus your attention somewhere else. You don’t have to be the best at everything. You should not feel lame about wanting to do art, embrace the music you like, and don’t be overwhelmed with social situations. There’s a huge reset button when you graduate high school. Do the best you can and not be wrapped up. I’m so happy for all the reset buttons in my life!

Emily Armstrong Qs

Images: Emily Armstrong; Lauren Jessen

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

As a Madewell graphic designer and blogger, Alexandra Yeske is as put together as you’d expect – not only with her outfits, but with her thoughtful responses and the ways she conducts herself. Alexandra became interested in arts and design from a young age, and she went to Syracuse University to further her design education. Post-college, Alexandra worked at Madewell in various capacities, and worked her way up in the company by taking advantage of the opportunities that came her way and accepting new challenges. You know those Madewell emails you receive in your inbox? Yeah, that’s designed by Alexandra. Pretty cool, right?

Alexandra also runs the blog Dreams + Jeans, where she discusses fashion, design, interiors, and other things that inspire her. She emphasizes reaching out to those you are inspired by and learning from them. Whether she’s designing, blogging, or exploring New York City, Alexandra is busy pursuing her dreams and working hard. By following the best piece advice she’s ever received – work hard and be nice to people – Alexandra is going to go far.

Name: Alexandra (Alex) Yeske
Age: 25
Education: B.F.A. in Communications Design from Syracuse University
Follow: Dreams + Jeans / Twitter / Instagram

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Alexandra Yeske: To me, seizing your youth is about taking advantage of all the opportunities that are presented to you. When you don’t have serious responsibilities like a house or a family, you can focus on what you want to do. I encourage young people to go after every opportunity given to them and reach out and network with people that you admire.

Alex Yeske 4

CJ: You received your BFA in Communications Design from Syracuse University. How did you determine what to study and what sparked your love of design?

AY: From a very young age I was interested in arts and design. I learned early on that fine art was not my forte, and it wasn’t until I was a bit older that I became interested in interior design. During high school, I did an architecture summer program at Carnegie Mellon thinking that maybe I would go into architecture. When that didn’t seem to fit, I remember going on the College Board website and looking up different careers and the majors you should study if you were interested in them. That’s when I came across graphic design. When I read about what graphic designers did, I recalled my scrapbooking interest from growing up and the fact that I obsessively knew all of the fonts on my computer. I never realized that could be a profession and from that moment it just sort of clicked.

I had applied to Syracuse University and when I went to visit, I sat in on a Communications Design class and fell in love with it immediately. I knew it was where I needed to go and that graphic design was what I wanted to study – I never wavered with that. The program at Syracuse is very different than most design schools. All of the projects are self-initiated. You take a problem or something that interests you and you solve it visually. In that, you’re able to tailor the major to you and you’re able to do projects that you are truly interested in and passionate about.

It’s a very rigorous program, but also incredibly rewarding. Our class time was to present your work and review/critique it, so all of the work is done on your own time and you really had to manage yourself. These reviews often went on for over five hours, but they were crucial to shaping not only our projects, but our presentation skills and ability to provide feedback. The professors valued our opinions and there were great discussions going on. Sometimes the reviews were incredibly difficult to get through, but in the end it made me a much stronger designer. And I think we all came out with really diverse portfolios, which was great during interviews because you really connected with your projects and it showed when we spoke about them.

One of my projects was an alcohol-infused sorbet and I distinctly remember my interview with Jenna Lyons for my job at Madewell. It was the first project she saw in my portfolio and I had just told her that my projects represented my interests and passions. She said, “Alcohol and ice cream? These are your interests?” Nervously, I replied “Well, sort of…” and trailed off and she immediately smiled and said “Mine too.”

CJ: You are a Graphic Designer at Madewell. What does your role entail?  

AY: When I first started at Madewell, I worked on the web team. I was designing features for our site and all of our emails. After about a year, our team took on all of the print marketing and store graphics responsibilities. I was interested in a new challenge, and I was able to transition onto the print team. Now, I do most of the design for our stores (window decals, signage, postcards, etc.), and I also still design all of the emails that go out to customers. It’s cool that I get to do both print and digital and have my eyes on a little bit of everything. I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve been able to work on both channels.

When you work in-house for a brand, there’s an inherent style guide to follow so that everything feels and looks like Madewell. Within that we’re definitely encouraged to explore and look for new typefaces and design ideas. We’re always looking for new ways to visually tell the Madewell story and identity to our customers.

Alex Yeske 2

CJ: You’ve worked at Madewell in many different capacities over the years as a Freelance Web Designer, Junior Web Designer and now Graphic Designer. What advice do you have for advancing in your career within a company?

AY: As I mentioned earlier, I believe that it’s important to take any opportunity that’s given to you and to be excited about it. I’m very passionate about Madewell, and when I came to the position, I was very excited to work on anything. My bosses know how much I love the brand, so even though I may not necessarily be working on certain projects, they still respect any ideas I may have to do something good for the brand.

I think it’s really important to have open communication with your bosses so they know what you’re interested in and can help you plan your path. I’ve been in my current role for about two and a half years now, but I’m constantly gaining more responsibilities and feeling like I am being challenged.

Alex Yeske 1

CJ: You are also a blogger and run the site Dreams + Jeans. What’s your favorite part about being a blogger? The hardest part?

AY: My favorite part about being a blogger is all of the people I’ve gotten to meet through it. I started my blog the summer before my senior year in college as a creative outlet, but also with the intention of it maybe helping me get a job. I saw this awesome online community that I wanted to be a part of, so I just went for it. It really opened my eyes to many new career paths that I had no idea even existed and helped me get to where I am today. I’ve met some fantastic friends through blogging – people that I would never have met otherwise. The first time you meet, it’s a bit like blind dating, but you know that you already have something in common and like similar things. That’s been the best part. You’re sitting at home doing it by yourself and it’s great to get comments, but it’s really rewarding when you meet real people and make real connections out of it.

The hardest part for me is to keep going with it! I balance a lot between my job, freelance work, my boyfriend and friends, and living in New York where there’s so much to do. It’s hard to juggle it all. There’s always something I want to write or post about, and it’s challenging to find the time to do it. Even though I had a rigorous school schedule in college, it was easy for me to blog because it was an outlet. Now I’m at a point where it’s not as high of a priority as it once was. It’s like having another job essentially, but I’ve learned over the years not to force it. If I’m not feeling it, then I give myself a break.

CJ: On average, how long does it take you to produce a blog post? What goes into the creation of a blog post?

AY: It depends. Some posts are harder than others. If I’m doing, for example, an Interior Envy post, it can be a lot faster than other types of posts. Once I’ve found the home I want to feature, it’s about a 15-20 minute process of putting it together and writing the content. My more complex posts, like outfits or my Currently Coveting posts, take a lot more time for creation. I am taking photos, editing photos, finding items, putting them into the layout, and writing the content.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from being a designer?

AY: Within working and blogging (and really, life in general), building your network is so important. Maintain good relationships and don’t burn bridges with people. I feel like that sounds so simple, but it can be so hard. It’s crucial to learn that early on. I’ve also found that it’s really important to keep your head down and focus on yourself. It’s easy to get wrapped up in looking at what others are doing and get down on yourself, but you’ve got to keep pushing through and just do you. I’ve also found that I’m so much happier to do work when I’m passionate about it.

CJ: What is the best part about being a designer? The most challenging part?

AY: I like that I’m solving problems visually. I’m a problem solver by nature. Even though I’m not necessarily solving huge problems, I’m finding better ways to communicate to the customer or to promote our brand. I also have to say that as a perfectionist, being a designer lets me have control over a lot of stuff.

I also really love that design translates across mediums. My style and aesthetic has changed so much since moving to New York and it’s exciting to see it come out in other ways than just my design work. I’m currently really into what my apartment looks like and honing in on my personal style. For instance, I used to wear a lot more color, and now I wear mostly neutrals. I’ve started to really learn what I like and what I’m most comfortable in. It takes time to figure it all out, but I’ve enjoyed seeing my evolution on my blog.

Alex Yeske 3

CJ: What does a day in your life look like?

AY: During the week, I get up around 8 o’clock. I would love to be a morning person who gets up earlier, enjoys a cup of coffee, maybe read some blogs, but I am just not the best morning person. Luckily, I live close enough to walk to work, so I’m able to sleep in a bit later. I like to get coffee on my way to work (if I’m not running late) and then I try to be in around 9am. I typically work until 6 or 6:30pm, depending on how much needs to get done. My days are never predictable. Some days I’ll be designing emails all day, other days I’ll be at a store visit or in meetings. Occasionally, I get to art direct a photo shoot for emails, so as you can see, there isn’t really a true schedule! I like that though, it keeps it interesting! After work, I try to meet up with friends a couple nights a week.

On weekends I like to have one or two major plans, but for the most part I keep them open. There are always new stores and restaurants opening that I want to check out. New York puts a lot of pressure on you to stay busy on the weekends – there’s always something to see and do.  You feel a bit guilty when you stay home watching TV or sleeping all day, but sometimes you need that! I also really love taking day trips out of the city – there are so many great places within a few hours drive.

CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to be a graphic designer do to set themselves up for success?

AY: I recommend trying graphic design out in whatever capacity that means for you. Once I decided that I wanted to learn more about design in high school, I took as many art classes as I could and did a summer program at Carnegie Mellon. If you can get an internship or if family members need something designed, go for it and figure out if you are truly interested in a career in graphic design.

I also can’t stress networking enough. These days with the Internet and social media, it’s so easy to look people up and reach out to them. I wanted to work in fashion but didn’t really know how to get started, so I reached out to a lot of people and asked them how they got their start and what advice they’d have for me as someone in the early part of their career. Everyone always says they’re terrified to email people randomly, but don’t be. You’re emailing someone because you like their work and you’re paying them a compliment. And when you’re a student, people are much more willing to talk to you – they usually remember when they were in that same position. A helpful hint: never ever push your resume onto anyone or ask for a job. If they want it, they’ll ask for it.

CJ: What book had the greatest impact on you and why?

AY: During college I read both: If You Have to Cry, Go Outside by Kelly Cutrone and The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd. Kelly’s perspective on the fashion industry is fascinating and I love her no-bullshit approach to everything. The Cheese Monkeys is about a graphic designer going through school and the experiences you go through. I remember connecting with it so much because I was going through similar things at the time.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

AY: My biggest piece of advice would be to persevere and to just keep going. That applies to any age. Put your head down and do your work and don’t worry about other people. You do you and keep going.

Alex Yeske Qs

Images: Angi Welsch; Lauren Jessen

Education

For those of you applying for college, declaring a major can be a little nerve wrecking. Photography majors have things to consider but they also have a lot of fun!

Creativity.

Want to do a fantasy photoshoot? Paint with developer chemistry? Photograph… without a camera? The photo world is vast and growing. It has become acceptable as an art, so you’re not only studying the technical aspect of photography, but also art and history and current events. You start applying your creativity to other places. If you write or paint, you start putting detail into the smaller things. In work, you might have out of the box ideas that would benefit you and who ever you’re working for. You learn to be a bit more open-minded. Have fun with it!

New friends, new perspectives.

When you go to university, you meet people from all over the world. That comes in handy when you have art galleries, thesis projects, ans collaboration assignments. Your new friends love photography just like you, but in different ways. You guys eventually will grow together and learn from each other. In some cases, you make lifelong friends. You’ll also see the world differently. You’ll notice the light coming through the windows, the shape of shadows, the way your reflection mimics the mannequin on the other side. Because of the types of classes you take, you’ll start noticing the various fonts, colors, and designs on advertisements. You’llstart seeing scenes in movies and think, wow, that landscape was amazing. I wish they cropped it more. It’s silly, but it’s fun, and when you meet people who think like you, it’s pretty amazing!

The meaning of life.

Ok, maybe you don’t learn the meaning of life. But you do learn about everything else. From news and events to self portraits, your experiments with the medium that is photography will take you places, let you see and think about things you never even thought to consider before.

Photography is a beautiful and deep subject to spend a few years on. Even if you learn that you’re not the best technically or conceptually, you still grow as a person, and what else is college for except to learn about yourself and the world?

Being a photography major is a lot of work, and sometimes it can drive you crazy. At the same
time, being a photography major is so amazing that it leaves you breathless and wanting
more. Whether that comes from learning, from meeting new people, from seeing in new
perspectives, or from realizing that you’re growing and being more than you were before, you
will come to find that being a photography major is more than simply photography. It is much,
much more.

Image: Rev Stan

Education

Ever wonder what is the average day of a photo student like? Let me tell you.

Monday morning. 9am. You and your classmates are hanging your work on the wall. The pins are magnetic Last week, you got a darkroom printing tutorial. This week is a crit, a critique.

You and your 15 classmates and a professor you call by the first name gather around one person’s work. Professor sets the timer and there is silence.

Someone starts talking. You have an opinion. You wait for the right time and you say it to the room without raising your hand. Suddenly the timer rings. Fifteen minutes has passed.

Time for the next student. This lasts for three hours. You hear everything. Feminism. Racial issues. Gay expression. Self portraiture. Inspiration from artist x, y, and z. Performance art. Cultural exploration. You learn to understand the issues and decide whether the work addresses it, and whether or not you’re convinced the work works.

It is the afternoon before you get out of class. Do you want to work on your art history midterm paper or do you want to go buy film before the store closes? (It closes at 4pm).

You decide to eat lunch with your friends in the dorm cafeteria. They said they would treat you on their meal plan card.

You spend an hour or two decompressing. You gossip about today’s crit, potentially hot professors, an interesting exhibition at a nearby museum (MoMA) or art gallery.

You think about what you need to shoot for your assignment due on Thursday and you go back to school to rent equipment. A tripod and a film camera. You head home carrying your equipment. You start planning your next shoot. You’re very, very excited.

My first semester had five courses:

Freshman Seminar ­- the crits, tutorials, and work making.
Drawing ­- pencil and charcoal drawing.
Light ­- deals with how light interacts with objects, space, and movement
Design ­- graphic design, basically
A writing class that everyone had to take

I hope this gives you an idea of what a day in the life was for me as a Freshman (at Parsons and in NYC). College is a challenge but it’s a good place to grow. College isn’t always fun, but it’s always a time to learn about yourself. Good luck!

Image: Paul Reynolds

Education

High school students are beginning to fill out their college applications, and part of that process includes deciding what major to pick. While you can always change your major once you get to school, oftentimes colleges encourage you to choose one so they can get an idea of your interests.

For those thinking about majoring in photography, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Costs add up.

It is impossible to imagine how much things cost. Film, darkroom paper, photo paper, book printing, photo books, mounting, business cards…the list goes on. As the four college years go by, it adds up. Some schools have amazing facilities (Parsons) but others do not. For those that don’t, it would be frustrating for you to have to buy all your own gear and pay for studio and scanning and developing chemistry.

2. Think outside the box.

Photography is no longer the black and white documentary 35mm it once was. From fashion to fine art, photo students are now expected to grasp, come up with, and execute concepts. Why did you take that picture? Why is it next to that other picture? Is it a series, a diptych, a stand alone? Digital, prints, or book form? Why? Be prepared to think critically.

3. Critiques will happen.

“Crits” are days when your work is hung up and people talk about it. Sometimes you can defend your work, sometimes you can’t. People will disagree or dislike your work. They will tell you what they honestly think. You can’t do anything about it. The best thing to do is to learn to take everything with a grain of salt, and to give good crits. That is the most productive thing to do. Explain what is working and what isn’t and why.

Being a photography major has its good and bad points. But as long as you love it, then it will all be worth it!

Image: Mia Domenico