Jumping into the world of graphic design can be a rich and fulfilling experience. Just ask Amy Center Stevens who graduated from Marywood in 1998 with her BFA in Graphic Design. She’s worked as the Creative Director at SUNY Adirondack for the last 5.5 years and here she shares her advice to current students.
Amy Center Stevens
Graduation Year/Major: BFA Graphic Design, 1998
Marywood Clubs/Activities: St. Luke’s Honor Society
Current Occupation: Creative Director at SUNY Adirondack for the past 5.5 years
We’ve got some questions for you!
- What was your favorite part about studying art at Marywood?
Jim Downer was a huge influence for me in my junior year. He showed us the importance of making a statement and that a smart conceptual idea executed using a xerox machine, ripped paper, white out, and sharpie markers can make a stronger statement than using the computer. His biggest influence was James Victore https://www.instagram.com/jamesvictore/ who also has inspired me greatly. I was actually able to meet James Victore in his Brooklyn studio a few years ago for a workshop retreat which was amazing. The biggest take away is always start on paper with a concept, make a word list, doodle, have an opinion about whatever it is. The computer doesn’t and won’t make you a designer.
- How did your art education at Marywood help your career?
I really loved that we were able to explore all areas of the art field while focusing in on our specific degree as well. So much of graphic design is done outside of the computer that having the ability to draw, paint, use a camera, work in the dark room and photography studio, use color and texture, as well as learning about type and art history were wonderful foundations to build upon. So many of the professors were interesting and really cared about their students, they were all great mentors. Sister Cor, Jim Downer, Dennis Corrigan, Pamela Parsons, I really felt like every one of them was excited for us to graduate and work in the field.
- Did your career path match your vision of a career path? What’s different?
It did actually! My goal was to work for a magazine publisher in New York City and eventually move back home to upstate NY to raise a family and hopefully find a job in the field. I graduated in May 1998 and was working as a Junior Designer for Nature magazine on Park Ave South in NYC in July that same summer. It was the perfect first job, I actually couldn’t believe I was getting paid to do what I was doing. I stayed there until the summer of 2002 and decided to move back to Glens Falls. I eventually found myself working at The Hyde Collection (an historic house museum) as their designer which was another dream job and then moved to working for a design agency where I really grew my skillset. I have been at SUNY Adirondack for almost 6 years and love working for a growing community college. In fact, our Viewbook and Report to the Community won Best of Categories in all of SUNY at the SUNY CUAD awards this spring. I’m also married and have two kids, 11 and 9.
- What is your favorite thing about your job?
When I get to interact with our students to tell their stories to our community it makes me very proud that what we do every day directly impacts their lives for the better. I also have a great team to work with and am really proud of the work that we do in print, social media and through videos.
- What is your favorite software program for design and why?
Brainstorming ideas is my favorite thing. Software is specific to the outcome…if you are laying out a brochure then you need to do that in InDesign, if you are designing a logo then you need Illustrator, if you are editing photos it would be Photoshop.
- Anything else you’d like to share?
Take risks, don’t get too comfortable, don’t do it for the money, have an opinion, don’t move text boxes around on a page for two hours, go see Aaron Draplin give a talk and if you can’t watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Toi2NRfGa1U and also this by James Victore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px4FCQcTgv0
- Any advice for current art students at Marywood?
Talk to your professors, get off the computer and use a big giant sharpie to write something across a xeroxed blown up old photo. Experiment, fail at something, travel, make this time selfishly about you becoming YOU.
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN STUDYING GRAPHIC DESIGN?
UNDERGRADUATE: Marywood’s graphic design program incorporates the study of design and type, conceptual development, design history, research, studio technique, and strategies for problem-solving. Class critiques and discussions are emphasized. Students will explore web design, interactive design, publication design, package design, corporate identity, typography and self promotion. During the junior and senior years, students will apply their knowledge and skills through internships and real design projects. The goal is to provide each student with the environment and support in which to develop a professional visual portfolio. LEARN MORE
GRADUATE: Our “Get Your Master’s with the Masters” MFA Program in Design and Illustration offers a rare opportunity to receive personal, hands-on training from leaders in the design and illustration fields. Working with designers, illustrators, and other art professionals is the easiest and most effective way to learn how to produce career-advancing work and obtain your MFA degree. LEARN MORE