RGD HeadStart Conference: Part 2

The second half of the RGD HeadStart conference was just as jam-packed with useful information as the first half, plus with extra free goodies (seen above). The presentations exceeded my expectations and made me think about things I wouldn’t have otherwise considered such as how to be a successful freelancer. I also got much needed advice on how to approach interviews, and how to lessen the anxiety when it comes to networking. During the talks, we were encouraged to tweet pieces of information and quotes that we found valuable during the conference. To my utter surprise, I was selected as one of the winners of the contest. I received a book called Playing with Sketches: 50 Creative Exercises for Designers and Artists by Whitney Sherman. As a book lover and artist, I was over the moon. I now have a way to help combat art-block, and I can fill my sketchbooks with new ideas.

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RGD Headstart Conference: Part 1

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I was generously invited to attend the RGD HeadStart Conference by the kind folks over at Creative Niche. HeadStart is RGD‘s largest conference for emerging designers and students. There are various presentations and panels that discuss the latest trends in the design industry, how to land your dream job, how to start a successful freelancing career, and more! Their experienced speakers guided us through the process of creating a strong portfolio, and also gave invaluable interview tips. One-on-one portfolio review sessions allowed industry professionals to give us constructive criticism on our work. It also gave us the chance to practice our interview skills. It was a full, jam-packed day, and I learned so much that it couldn’t be contained in one blog post. Let’s begin!

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Information Visualizations: Changing the Way We Look at Data

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Isabel Meirelles gave a presentation at Sheridan College’s lecture hall about why we need information visualizations. She is an information designer, author and associate professor of graphic design at Northeastern University in Boston. Her presentation looked at information visualization from a research and historical perspective. She gave us an overview of how information visualization was used in earlier centuries by scribes, doctors and more to convey complex information in a simpler form. What I found most interesting was how web design and interaction design play a huge role in making information visualizations more compelling and easier to understand.

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The Highs and Lows of the Web Design Industry

ImageOur first guest speaker after winter break was Lily Varga, the Digital Art Director at TraffikGroup. The company is an integrated advertising agency located in downtown Toronto. They develop strong marketing strategies for clients like Diageo, Canada Dry, Xbox, and many others. Like the majority of our guest speakers, Lily is a former graduate of Sheridan’s Web Design program, and had a lot to say about what life is like after graduation. Before landing her current position, she dipped her feet into various jobs and had many horror stories to tell. Thankfully, her stories all have a happy ending.

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Behind the Scenes in the Digital Production Industry

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The Creative Director of Colorfield, Michael Gramlow, came to speak to us about the digital production industry and the importance of getting your work recognized in a rapidly changing environment. Colorfied’s clients are generally ad agencies in the U.S. (hence the reason why their name doesn’t have that oh-so-Canadian “u” in “colour”) even though they’re based in Toronto. Their creative work involves everything from web design, animation, development, production management, sound and design production, shooting, and tons more. Their clients include Chevy, Ford, Subaru, NBC, American Express, Google, Old Navy, amongst others. As designers, we don’t always have to work for agencies, there are other options out there, one of which is the fun (but highly work-intensive) world of digital production.

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Building an Engaging Brand Experience

John

John Alabaszowski stopped by our Professional Topics class to talk about his career as a creative director at MacLaren McCann. MacLaren is a multi-disciplined advertising agency that has over 450 employees spread across three offices in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary. They were ranked as one of the top three agencies in Canada since 1922, and their clients include General Motors, GoodWrench, WIND Mobile, RBC, MasterCard, Halo, and more. John stressed the importance of conveying a memorable brand experience through story telling in terms of design and content. It’s not just about building sites anymore!

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Not-So-Common-Sense 101: Copyright and Creative Commons

Gillian Chubb

Mind, prepare to be bombarded with new information that you should’ve learned years ago. Thanks to Gillian Chubb, the Coordinator of Sheridan’s Web Design program, I now know a thing or two about copyright and creative commons. I used to think that as a student in Canada I was free to use whatever was in the public domain for school design projects, but boy was I wrong! Only American students have that privilege, and even then there’s still a lot of red tape.

Let’s make one thing clear: Nothing on the web is legally free for you to use!

If you didn’t create it, purchase it or get permission to use it, chances are you shouldn’t use it. There are, however, a few exceptions such as research, private study, criticism, reporting, and blogging with proper credit–thank God–but anything outside of these exceptions is a huge no-no. Gillian gave us crucial information that I’ll carry with me throughout my web design career.

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Connecting the Dots Between Design and Sustainability

Todd Barsanti

Today’s guest speaker came from an unexpected source. Todd Barsanti is a Sheridan Grad and Professor who recently trained with Al Gore on the topic of climate change. He did his masters at York University in Environmental Studies, and spoke to us today about climate change and sustainability — I know, it kinda seems unrelated to web design, but it actually has a lot to do with the industry if you take a step back and examine the impacts of our energy consumption in the environment.

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Show ‘Em Your Chops! (Design Chops, Not Pork Chops)

Norma and Brad

Brad Huffman and Norma Penner from Sapient Nitro came to visit us to talk about their experience in the design industry. They got us pumped for the work life ahead! Sapient Nitro is a design agency that focuses on connecting consumers with brands by combining brand advertising, digital marketing, experience innovation and omni-channel commerce. Unlike other agencies, Sapient is purely digital. They have 35 offices worldwide, and their Toronto branch has over 300 employees. The company takes on the personalities of their clients instead of expecting their clients to be like them. It works out in the long run because that would pretty much guarantee a satisfied client — who doesn’t want that? Their presentation highlighted the importance of showcasing your design chops. If you can cook some mean pork chops,  too, that’s also a good asset.

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What a treat! First week ends on a sweet note

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We’re spoiled rotten in our Professional Topics class. This week we got a special box of cupcakes from our fellow classmate, Matt. While nibbling on these treats we stared at and admired each other’s portfolios. Gosh, the talent in the room was stifling–in a good way! In the coming weeks we’ll be treated to guest speakers from the industry who’ll share words of wisdom, advice, and maybe even their life story. The networking opportunities for this class are endless, we just need to reach out and grab it! I’m humbled and privileged to be a part of this program with such multitalented people. Here are just some of the portfolio pieces:

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