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The Graphic Design Student Survival Guide Advice from the real life experiences of the UMN GDes Class of 2014


THIS HANDBOOK contains tips and advice for graphic design students at the U of M’s College of Design. All advice here is based on the personal experiences of the 27 students from Steven McCarthy and Daniel Jasper’s 2013/2014 thesis class. Inside you will find pieces of advice that are directly related to the students in the class of 2014. Next to each tip is a little bit of info about that student. Now, on to the advice — and as your mothers or fathers would say, “Listen to us; we were your age once”.


Kelsie Klaustermeier Portfolio kelsieklaustermeier.com Twitter @kklaustermeier Email hello@kelsieklaustermeier.com What has been humanity’s greatest invention to date? Google Calendars What is your greatest irrational fear? Being locked in a closet in a huge, empty building.


2 Give 110% in everything you do, and you will reap the benefits.

...like win an award for best website, or be featured on the MPLS Egotist.


Katie Moraczewski Portfolio katiemoraczewski.com Twitter @ktmoraczewski Email morac004@umn.edu If you could learn one random skill, what would it be? Scuba Diving What has been humanity’s greatest invention to date? Netflix


3 Set your sights high when applying for internships.

You may end up working for ESPN.


Nick Khow Portfolio nickkhow.com Twitter @nickkhow Email nickkhow@gmail.com If you could learn one random skill, what would it be? To play the harp. What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done? Walked in a superhero-themed fashion show while dressed as a red-caped military samurai superhero, complete with eye patch and sword.


4 Own your obsession. Maybe even make it a part of some of your work.

...even if your obsession is internet cats.


Katie Schalow Portfolio katieschalowdesign.squarespace.com Twitter @kschalow23 Email schal122@umn.edu What’s a really weird thing about you? My right foot was reconstructed using cadaver bone when I was in 8th grade. What is your greatest irrational fear? Talking on the phone.


5 Don’t only rely on class projects to become a better designer. If you want to improve a skill, start a self-guided project.

Like a photograph-a-day challenge to become a better photographer.


Sean Quinn Portfolio seanquinncreative.com Twitter @seanteak Email quinn283@umn.edu What is your greatest irrational fear? Aliens. Like the evil kind –you would never see them coming. What has been humanity’s greatest invention to date? A three-way tie between horticulture, telescopes, and snowboards.


6 Start your own screenprint apparel company.

Get your friends together and watch the company take off!


Mai Yang Portfolio maisyang.com Email maisyang@outlook.com What’s a really weird thing about you? I am a huge British romance drama fan and since then can imitate/speak in a posh British accent. What is your greatest irrational fear? Large bodies of water.


7 Apply your design background to one of your passions or hobbies and create your perfect career path.

Love video games? Someone has to design those interfaces.


Ellen Hughes Portfolio cargocollective.com/ellenhughes Twitter @ellehugs Email hughe334@umn.edu What’s a really weird thing about you? I had a snowboarding concussion in 2011 and haven’t felt hunger since. Yes, I have seen doctors. And no, it’s not as good as it sounds in theory. What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done? Last summer I lived out of a car (by choice!) for a month so I could drive/bike around aimlessly and see the country.


8 Be inspired by your adventures.

Maybe you go salmon fishing in Alaska, Deadliest Catch style, and the typography on the boats inspire you to make your own typeface.


Whitney Thurman Portfolio whitneythurman.com Twitter @WhitThur Email thurm048@umn.edu If you could learn one random skill, what would it be? I’d love to be one of those people who can do the deafeningly loud whistles with their fingers. What is something most people can do that you can’t? I cannot (for the LIFE of me) estimate time accurately.


9 Be a leader, organizer, and event planner.

When the senior show rolls around it will be a piece of cake.


Matt McVeigh Portfolio mcveighcreative.com Twitter @Matt_McVeigh Email matt@mcveighcreative.com What is your funniest childhood story? When I was in the first grade Mom had my brothers and I write Christmas cards. She found them in the trash the following morning. I threw them all away because they “WEREN’T GOOD ENOUGH”. We made new ones out of construction paper and glitter glue. Thats when she knew I was going to be a graphic designer.


10 Convince freshmen to bring you lunch from the dorms so you don’t lose valuable design time.

Time is everything!


Stephen Nixon Portfolio thundernixon.com Twitter @thundernixon Email stephen@thundernixon.com What is your greatest irrational fear? Plastic bags. Spiders. Suffocating in a plastic bag full of spiders. If you could learn one random skill, what would it be? Human flight. Or perfect kerning.


11 Be so in love with typography that you design five custom typefaces.

Admiring the type at Wilson Library helps!


Dan Loehmann Portfolio danloehmann.com Twitter @DL0 Email danloehmann@gmail.com What is something that most people can do that you can’t? I suck at video games. I don’t know how to play Madden or any of the popular sports games that the average male claims to dominate. I’ve always been the one to get outside and explore, or devise a crafty project before I want to stare at a screen...which is ironic because I chose graphic design as my career path.


12 Be self-reliant and build a photography studio in your apartment.

It’s great to have in case your schedule conflicts with the imaging lab hours.


Lauren Koszuta Portfolio laurenkoszuta.com Twitter @laurenloko Email laurenkoszuta@gmail.com What’s a really weird thing about you? I cry, almost without fail, when I watch kids singing on talent competition shows –or more accurately, on YouTube at 1 in the morning. If you could learn one random skill, what would it be? Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance, in its entirety.


13 Keep a well-curated blog full of inspiration, beautiful photography, travel ideas, and good design.

Always have career goals and life dreams and chase them.


Sarah Windisch Portfolio sarahwindisch.com Twitter @sarahwindisch Email sarahannwindisch@gmail.com If you could learn one random skill, what would it be? Speed reading. What has been humanity’s greatest invention to date? Without glasses, I don’t know where I would be today.


14 Be curious and never be afraid to ask questions.

Your classmates might have the same questions and are just nervous to ask.


Ellen Dy Portfolio lndoriginal.com Twitter @lndoriginal Email ellen@lndoriginal.com What is your greatest irrational fear? Frogs and toads. There is something about their skin texture that will have me on the floor, rocking back and forth in a fetal position. What has been humanity’s greatest invention to date? The internet is a pretty great invention. After my first experience online, I completely forgot about sliced bread.


15 Utilize YouTube and linda.com when you want to learn a new skill or program. They are great resources.

You’d be surprised how much you can learn and how quickly you will pick it up!


Celeste Knudsen Portfolio celesteknudsen.com Twitter @ckrisply Email ideas@celesteknudsen.com What is your funniest childhood story? When I was in kindergarten, my teacher asked us to draw what we wanted to be when we grew up. Even though my teacher tried to convince me that maybe I wanted to be a doctor or an astronaut, something a little more realistic, I was steadfast in my decision. I said I wanted to be a monarch butterfly. If you could learn one random skill, what would it be? Joggling. Yes. Jogging while juggling.


16 Use your incredibly unique illustration style to create a daily comic about cute cats.

“Conundrum Cat� is already taken though.


Alyson Kayne Portfolio alysonkaynedesign.com Email alysonkayne@me.com What’s one really weird thing about you? I have one really long, black hair on my arm. It’s weird. What else? You would be surprised how many people think my last name is Kanye. No, I am not related to Kanye West. I do not rap.


17 Try your best to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Bring fruits and veggies to class and resist the temptation to get Subway.


Jaime Zyvoloski Portfolio cargocollective.com/jaimezyvoloski Email zyvol006@umn.edu What is something most people can do that you can’t? I can’t whistle. God knows I’ve tried. What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done? I had to play an extensive oboe solo in band because the original soloist got sick and I had no practice. I nailed it.


18 Are you extra crafty? Design, craft, and sell your products on Etsy!

Everyone could use some extra cash.


Sarah Nguyen Portfolio sarahnguyendesign.com Email sarahnguyendesign@gmail.com What’s a really weird thing about you? I like the smell of Fleet Farm. What is your funniest childhood story? One time in first grade, I asked my teacher if I could borrow a pencil and she thought I had said, “I lost my earring.” Within seconds after she announced it to the class, everyone was crawling on the ground. To stop the chaos, I thoughtlessly threw one of my earrings under the desks!


19 The best kind of designer is the one who is incredibly detailed and talented yet always remains humble about his or her work.

Seriously, stay humble and always listen to feedback.


Mike Savadkouhi Portfolio mikesavidesign.com Email mikesavidesign@gmail.com If you could learn one random skill, what would it be? To be psychic. What is your greatest irrational fear? That the power grid will collapse due to a solar flare.


20 Find the right school-life balance and always make time for your loved ones.

It’s important to maintain your relationships and take care of your family.


Danielle (Dee) Johannes Portfolio daniellejohannes.com Twitter @dee_johannes Email deejohannes@gmail.com What’s a unique thing about you? I go by Dee, instead of my real name Danielle, because there was another girl named Danielle in my first grade class and my teacher asked if I could go by a nickname. I told my teacher I can go by the nickname Dee, and it has stuck with me ever since! What is something that most people can do that you can’t? I can’t roll my R’s.


21 Do you enjoy making patterns?

You can decorate your apartment by getting your pattern printed on fabric and making seat covers, sheets, or whatever you can think of!


Sondra Vine Portfolio sondravinedesign.com Twitter @SondraVine Email sondravine.design@gmail.com What is your greatest irrational fear? Being upside down. If I am more than 180 degrees perpendicular to the ground I start panicking. Yes, this means no hanging from monkey bars, no somersaults in the pool, no cartwheels, and no roller coasters. If you lift me in the air and threaten to turn me upside down, I will cry. You’ve been warned. Unique skills: I can say the alphabet backwards really fast.


22 Push your packaging design to the next level by creating a game to go with it. Then play it with your classmates and build class bonding.

The beer package was inspired by True American, the drinking game played in ABC’s sitcom “New Girl”.

*Not encouraged if you’re under the age of 21. Please drink responsibly.


Jackie Ramacher Portfolio jacquelineviola.com Twitter @Jackie_Ramacher Email rama0231@umn.edu What’s a really weird thing about you? I accidentally wink at people I am talking to during a conversation. It most often happens when I’m explaining something to them and I say, “You know what I mean?” It’s kind of a creepy wink too. People don’t know if I’m trying to flirt with them or not. What is your greatest irrational fear? Getting my eyes cut by paper. Whenever it gets within two feet of my face my cat-like reflexes kick in to dodge it.


23 Be kind and generous by offering your classmates rides to and from class.

Especially on days that packaging projects are due!


Marcia Colby Portfolio cargocollective.com/marciacolby Email marccolb@gmail.com What’s a really weird thing about you? I am a little obsessed with rabbits; I owned 13 rabbits at once. What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done? Going to Europe with Steven McCarthy’s design course.


24 Take classes with other design majors.

You might be inspired in new ways or get a different perspective on design.


Ellie Schneider Portfolio ellencschneider.com Twitter @ellencschneider Email ellencschneider1@gmail.com

What’s a really weird thing about you? My life goal is to float in the Dead Sea before I die. What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done? I once followed a fire truck for over an hour to see where it went.


25 Have a dual degree in design and marketing.

It will allow you to understand the importance of design in business and business in design.


Sam Lindsay Portfolio samlindsay.com Twitter @samuelindsay Email linds341@umn.edu If you could learn one random skill, what would it be? To be able to do a backflip on flat ground. I would love that. What has been humanity’s greatest invention to date? It is the bicycle. Absolutely.


26 This major can get stressful. Find ways to stay sane.

Learning to be mindful of the present moment is one very effective method.


Heather Johnson Portfolio heatherjohnsondesign.com Twitter @hurrthurr Email heatherjohnsondesign@gmail.com What’s a really weird thing about you? When I get the hiccups it’s usually just one single hiccup and then it’s done. What is your funniest childhood story? My family used to draw faces on shelled peanuts and then hide them in trees. I would go around, collect them, and then keep them as ‘pets’. Sometimes my family would get really fancy and glue wings and googly eyes on them too.


27 Stay inspired by pursuing personal projects!

We fell in love with design because it was fun – keep it that way.


Taylor Wichrowski Portfolio taylorwichrowski.com Twitter @TayWichrowski Email wichrowski.t@gmail.com What is your funniest childhood story? When I was 5 I got my head stuck in a rocking chair and my dad had to cut me out with a saw. My mom took pictures. What is your greatest irrational fear? I hate when silverware get stuck together. It makes me cringe. The sight and sound of fork prongs interlocking send shivers up my arms.


28 Make a project that shows off how awesome your talented classmates are.

Don’t forget to annoy them by assigning them homework in the form of surveys and questionnaires.


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BONUS TIPS Work hard on your McNeal Hall drawing. You will be very frustrated when mixing paint in Color Theory to get the perfect color. Get over it. This is your initiation. Get an internship early. Buy a big cutting board. Don’t settle for an 8.5x11. You’ll thank yourself when you take packaging design. If you don’t drink coffee, START. If you already do, buy in bulk. Back up your computer every week. Get involved in the AIGA student group and attend AIGA events. Enjoy your time here!


Thank you! Thanks to all of the faculty and staff in the College of Design for helping us get to where we are today. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Drew Blom James Boyd Brent Elizabeth Bye Sauman Chu James Cosper Greg Daigle Dean Tom Fisher Monica Fogg Mary Franco Laurie Gardner Patricia Hemmis

Brad Hokanson Daniel Jasper Linda Krueger Katie Leonard Curt Lund Kate Maple Barbara Martinson Gordon McAlpin Steven McCarthy Lori Mollberg Bill Moran

Alex Newby Ron Ott John Owens Eugene Park Greg Pickman Lucy Reile Lori Swenson Frances Trice Carol Waldron Ange Wang Gayle Whitney


Content gathered from the Class of 2014 Written and designed by


The Graphic Design Student Survival Guide  

Advice from the real life experiences of the University of Minnesota Graphic Design Class of 2014.

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