We’re thrilled to welcome Grace Magnus to our instructor flock, though Grace has been a member of the DCA community for years, first as a student, then as a teaching assistant, and now as an instructor. Her own design work is exciting and innovative, and we urge you to check out her portfolio at https://www.gracemagnus.com. Grace will be teaching Photoshop I in our new Woodland Hills center this spring.
What brought you to this field?
I like to joke that I’m a recovering English major, but in reality, I’ve had a wide assortment of jobs that have led me to where I am today. I managed an art gallery, edited copy, sold fine wine, applied makeup, and helped create brands. Along the way I’ve slung drinks, served coffee, worked graveyard shifts, installed roofing…it’s been a long hustle, and I’m proud of it. I succeeded in all these jobs by taking an ecumenical approach to learning–I relish the opportunity to receive new information, digest it, and clearly and concisely help others understand it regardless of the subject matter. It’s no wonder I fell in love with teaching soon after I fell in love with design.
In 2012, I took a Design Fundamentals class at Extension on a whim. I was new to Los Angeles, itching for change, and the public health class I wanted to take was suddenly canceled. Four years later I have an exciting freelance business I love. So many graphic designers fall into the field by accident or, like me, come into it later in life as a second, third, even fourth career. I love that. It means we have this pool of creative people who’ve worked hard and have a huge range of experiences to apply to finding design solutions.
Tell us about an especially rewarding project you’ve worked on and why you enjoyed it so much.
I’m a big proponent of Design for Good, and I always try to be working on at least one project that has personal meaning. For example, here’s a current project that hits close to home: I used to work very late hours while having two dogs that needed long walks at all hours of the day and night. I learned some time ago that the world can be a terrifying place for women after dark.
So I’ve been challenging my 2D design skills by pushing them into the 3D world, and I’m creating prototypes for personal safety devices, holsters, walking aids, etc. that will make it easier, safer, and more comfortable for women who need to be outside at night. The line is being printed on my 3D printer with the goal to distribute them for free. The entire line is designed with women’s tastes and bodies in mind, which makes it a real design challenge because women’s tastes and bodies are so varied.
Why is your course, Photoshop I, important for my design education?
Today’s emerging designers need to know how to use Photoshop effectively, efficiently, and creatively in order to stand out in an over-saturated market. Although Photoshop is considered by many to be Adobe’s most difficult and counter-intuitive program, it is also the most powerful and incredibly fun. My goal isn’t to drill into your brains every hot key (I wish, we only have 12 weeks!), rather it’s to guide you through the essential tools so that you the designer can find the exact right solutions for your own work. Your interviewer isn’t going to care that you know every single way to pull up the color picker, they care that your work has vision and originality, and that you can efficiently and effectively put to paper what’s in your head. I will guide you into harnessing Photoshop’s power so you can do just that.
Do you have a sample assignment?
Sure! I like to make sure that my assignments are challenging, but also fun and personal. So I’ll give you a little peek into one option for your final. Students will create a series of posters that utilize Photoshop techniques and best practices to morph different living creatures into one, then you’ll will use those images to make a poster series of PSA’s for a social or environmental cause. If you’re not into monsters, don’t worry, I’ve created project variations to suit every taste.
Thank you, Grace!