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Designer to Director: An Interview with Stacy Kimmel

I can remember meeting Stacy Kimmel about a year ago when she was considering joining the Advanced Print and Graphic Communication Certificate. And join she did!

Since then, with her new and improved portfolio, she has landed a new job: Director of Creative Services at City of Hope. Read on to learn about what her new position involves, how she got it and what she’ll look for in your portfolio if you meet her in an interview.

See her portfolio here.
Learn more about City of Hope here.

What brought you to UCLA Extension’s DCA Advanced Print and Graphic Communication certificate?
I am an advocate of continuing education. If you believe you have all the answers and have learned everything there is to learn you might as well retire and call it a day. Our industry is constantly evolving through technological advancements including the introduction of new platforms such as social media. Taking classes, attending trade shows and learning from your peers are a just a few of the steps we can take to stay relevant in our field.

What was your design/work history before starting the certificate?
I have been very fortunate in my professional career which has spanned over 20 years. I have worked in a variety of industries both as an employee and as a founding partner of Kismet Design Group, an award winning design firm. Past clients include: Disney, Warner Bros., Mattel, Paramount Pictures, Kid Space Children’s Museum, Pier 1 Imports, Ross, Ryman Auditorium, Southern California Edison, Travel & Leisure, The Grand Ole Opry, The Motion Picture & Television Fund, The Topps Company, Universal Studios and USA Today.

You recently got a new position! Please tell us more about it.
I recently accepted the Director of Creative Services position at City of Hope. It’s a remarkable facility which I am very proud to be part of. For nearly 100 years, City of Hope’s pioneering research has brought the world closer to cures for many life-threatening diseases, from cancer to diabetes. Compassion drives the ongoing innovation. Every discovery made and new treatment developed gives patients the chance to live longer, better and more full lives. My department, which consists of 10 members, is responsible for all the print materials which support the development and clinical sides of the institution. That includes cause and celebrity marketing, event and fundraising as well as clinical materials that the patients, doctors and researcher use at the hospital.

You’re in a position to hire new and more senior graphic designers. What do you look for in those roles?
An invaluable skill for any designer is the ability to be a team player and have an understanding of what that really means. As a senior member of any team you are expected to take part of the collaborative process, respond well to art direction and have a positive attitude. When I review a portfolio I look for a well rounded book both stylistically and in the variety of work represented. I look for a good use of typography, color theory and most importantly creative conceptualization.

You have a continuing education benefit at work. What do you look forward to learning in the future?
I will be finished with my certificate in Advance Print & Graphic Communication next quarter after which I would like to take a few additional classes. I am considering your new class Social Media for Designers. City of Hope has a dedicated team in the Communication Department that works solely on social media platforms. Our 2 teams partner up frequently and it would be beneficial if I had a better understanding of that world. I am also interested in taking some business classes to further develop my leadership and management skill set.

Thank you, Stacy! There you have it – direct from a designer who could hire you one day. Core skills like type and color are critical, as are staying open to the new technologies in design. I really appreciate Stacy’s openness to learning new things and accepting that just because you’ve got a great portfolio and client list doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything left to learn.

Francesca Fuges Knows Where to Find Support

Design by DCA grad Francesca Fuges

Francesca earned her DCA Certificate this summer and has an incredible web portfolio to show for it. I emailed her a few questions about getting the most out of her time as a student and preparing for the portfolio review, and here is what she had to say:

Why did you choose DCA?
When I started looking for programs, I had no experience in graphic design. I was nervous that when I started classes I would feel intimidated and out of place. After doing some research, I found out that students enrolled in the DCA program were from all different walks of life and had varying levels of experience. This was perfect for me. It also allowed me to work part time and attend as many classes as I wanted. I also loved that I could tailor the DCA program to fit my specific interests.

How did what you get out of the DCA Program reflect what you put into it?
The DCA program has many resources to offer, including awesome teachers and UCLAX AIGA events. I tried to take advantage of these resources. I asked questions, met homework deadlines, and yes, I was a total “kiss ass” (ask anyone who took a class with me). The whole experience helped me leave the program with a portfolio I am proud of, and most importantly, a sense of preparedness for my future in graphic design.

What are your best memories of being a student with us?
My best memory was my very first class at UCLAX. It was Design Fundamentals with Henry Mateo, and my preliminary introduction to graphic design. I left that first class certain that this was the right path for me. After going through a period of not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, it was an amazing feeling. That and when they opened up the Chipotle in Westwood Village . . . mmmmm.

How did you prepare for the final portfolio review?
Before I started putting together my portfolio I needed to figure out which projects to use, and how to revise them. I made friends through Extension who were also working on their portfolios, so we decided to form a group and meet once a week to discuss and critique each other’s work. It was a huge help to have that support system. It kept us all motivated and on track.

When I completed a first draft, I took it to a portfolio review at Chapman University and received a ton of helpful feedback. I made changes and took my revised draft to a second portfolio review at Cal State LA. I then worked on and completed the final draft. I tried to get as much feedback as possible before I could say I was “finished”. Going to a couple of reviews allowed me to practice discussing my work with people in the industry.

What are your next career moves?
I am currently doing some freelance design work. I plan on attending as many AIGA events as possible and signing up for different networking sites (which means taking the plunge and finally joining Facebook) in order to get exposure. My goal is to end up at a design studio that specializes in identity, print and packaging where I can gain experience and grow as a designer.

Do you have additional questions for Francesca? Leave them in the comments.

If you would like to share your story, please email dca@uclaextension.edu.

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