It’s always exciting to see what area of design our DCA certificate students focus on once they’ve completed the foundational coursework, and what excellent portfolio pieces result when they follow their passion. Recent graduate Paola Itikawa shares her thoughts on the DCA program, as well as some of her outstanding work:
What brought you to the DCA program?
Design was always something I thought of doing. I remember considering applying to design school for my undergrad, but I went to architecture school instead, following in my father’s footsteps who was a civil engineer. He always had architecture blueprints all around the house that inspired me growing up. I remember in my second year of undergrad, one of my professors congratulated me on how I laid out and designed the presentation of my project. I think that was a sign of the future path I was gonna take.
After a few years working in the architecture field, I realized I wanted something new, something that would excite me again and let me be more creative. That’s when I heard from another fellow Brazilian about UCLAx and the DCA Program.
It’s good you ask what courses because it would be so hard to pick only one. I really enjoyed all the classes that John Beach taught: Surface Design for Consumer Products, Publication Design, and Package Design. I started by taking Surface Design in my third quarter and I had no idea what we would really be doing. I began with a very conservative feather sketch, but John was able to to teach us through and build our confidence as designers and enabled us to create amazing patterns. Publication and Packaging had great impact in what I work with today and they incorporated many aspects of the design.
Another great course for me was Advanced Typography with Allison Bloss, she really stretched us in our designs and taught me so much about typography. Typography is still a constant exercise for me, that I hope to be able to master one day.
As a designer, what does a potential project need to have for you to feel passionate about it?
Each project can be different. Of course there are certain fields of the design that I enjoy working more than others, but that doesn’t necessarily make me feel more passionate about a project. The design is a process of problem solving. Many times the projects that I feel stuck in the beginning are the ones that excites me the most in the end, and the have the best results. That’s why it’s important to understand the design brief, do your research, understand your ‘competition’ and know your target audience and stay in track with what do you want to accomplish with it. Each project is a new challenge and that always excites me.
What are you working on now?
I am a graphic designer at The Creative Pack, an exciting little studio in Manhattan Beach. We work with branding with a focus on packaging design. We develop a lot of private label work. In Southern California, there aren’t many companies that do this kind of work, most of them are in NorCal, the East Coast, or in the UK, so i feel very privileged to be part of it. This job has taught me a lot about packaging design, about retail and marketing. I’ve been able to see my design in stores already, which is great! My initial desire in becoming a graphic designer is that my work could reach a large number of people and with this job I’ve been able to accomplish that.
Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?
In 5 years… I hope to develop my skills and be able to look around and recognize a bunch of products that I have designed!