“A successful graphic design student needs to be a creative thinker in order to brainstorm different design ideas. In addition, students must be open-minded in order to take criticism well and be able to implement feedback from professors in their design projects.”

Nicholas Brosas is studying to earn his Associate of Arts in Graphic Design. He is a student at Shoreline Community College in Shoreline, Washington.

Nicholas chose to pursue his graphic design degree because he enjoys working with design programs. After graduating, Nicholas hopes to secure a job as an in-house designer for a magazine or a newspaper.

In your own words, what is graphic design?

Graphic design is the creation of images that help communicate a specific message to the consumer. Graphic designers focus on producing creative and artistic designs. Many graphic designers work at design firms as in-house designers or at print shops and magazine companies as layout artists.

Why did you choose to study graphic design?

I chose to study graphic design after my high school teacher encouraged me to explore different design programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator. As a result, I became interested in the graphic design field and subsequently enrolled in Shoreline Community College because of the cost and reputation of the design program.

When you first considered studying graphic design what were your expectations?

When I first considered studying graphic design, I was concerned about feeling intimidated or inadequate. However, after being in the program, I realized that if I apply myself and pay attention, I can create an exceptional design. One time I submitted a sloppy brochure to a professor who encouraged me to redo the design. I revamped the entire design and the brochure turned out really well. That is when I realized that I could be successful if I commit myself to the program.

What do you find most and least enjoyable about studying graphic design?

I enjoy studying graphic design because I love the sense of community that my field provides. It is fun to talk with other students who are working toward similar educational goals. I have formed a close knit group of friends and we always exchange ideas with one another.

However, the least enjoyable aspect is meeting the deadlines and trying not to feel intimidated by other students’ work. I have to accept that some students are going to produce stronger work than I do and that is okay.

What kinds of classes have you taken in your graphic design program?

My typography, grid, web design and capstone classes covered some of the most fundamental principles of graphic design. The typography course addressed types, fonts and layouts, while the grid class discussed spatial relationships and how to place design elements within a grid. My web design class, which covered the design, creation and maintenance of web pages and websites, was important too. My final capstone class is focused on making a solid portfolio that I can use when I apply for jobs.

What resources do you use to help you succeed in your studies?

The students associated with my program are the best resource available in my education. I attend my classes with the same group of students, so we network and exchange ideas about graphic design. Since my classes are small, I have also developed a close relationship with a teacher who helps me whenever I have a problem.

Have you done an internship in your field?

Although my program does not require an internship, my school does offer a class for students interested in finding an internship. The class provides a list of internships to students so they can gain hands-on experience.

What personality traits do you think would help a student to succeed in a graphic design program and what traits would hinder success?

A successful graphic design student needs to be a creative thinker in order to brainstorm different design ideas. In addition, students must be open-minded in order to take criticism well and be able to implement feedback from professors in their design projects.

On the other hand, if students are easily intimidated by other people’s work, they may struggle in a graphic design program. Students need to be able to find their own strengths within the field and feel confident about their work.

What is your weekly schedule?

Each week, I am usually in class 2 or 3 days for about 3 hours at a time. In addition, I have lab hours and assigned projects, which can sometimes take 20 hours to complete. As a result, I often stay up late working on website design or other class projects.

Because I work full time at a print shop, I am only able to take evening classes, which is why it will take me longer than average to graduate. Sometimes I have had to wait an entire quarter to take a class that fits into my work schedule.

How do you manage your course load? What study tips would you give to a prospective student?

I manage my course load by practicing good time management skills. I try to set aside at least 3 hours every day to work on assignments instead of waiting until the last minute to complete them. This way, I can avoid feeling rushed or stressed and the quality of my work is usually much stronger.

What are your plans for after graduation?

After I graduate with my associates degree in graphic design, I plan to continue working at my current job as a digital printing operator. In the future, I might consider earning my bachelors degree.

My personal dream is to become an in-house designer for the Seattle Times or a beer brewing company. Because I love the beer culture, I am interested in applying my graphic design skills to the beer industry.

Now that you have completed 2 years of your graphic design program, if you could go back to high school, what would you do differently?

In retrospect, I wish my high school would have taught me time management skills, so I could have felt better prepared for college and the huge time commitment that it entails.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in studying graphic design?

I would advise students interested in studying graphic design to keep an open mind and not be egotistical. Because a graphic design program emphasizes teamwork and communication, they need to be willing to hear other people’s ideas about design concepts.

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