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Interview with Recent DCA graduate Rafael van Winkel

“Getting the job of my dreams was definitely a mix of hard work and good education. I did my part by being the best student I could be, and the DCA program provided me the good education through the brilliant instructors they have.” — Rafael van Winkel

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Recent graduate Rafael van Winkel sat down with us to tell us about his experience:

What are your thoughts on the DCA program?
I’m very glad I did it. I really wanted to learn more about design theory and the DCA program definitely gave me that. Not only that, but everything I learned made my skills improve a significant amount. I liked how personal most of the classes are. The instructors take the time to critique your work and point out your strongest points but also and most importantly what you need to improve. We also had the opportunity to comment on other students’ work and that allowed me to interact with different creative points of view and try different things in my own work.

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How did the program help you land a job that you’re excited about?
I’ve been at Trailer Park / Art Machine for almost a year now and it’s been great. As part of the Home Entertainment division I get to work on different kinds of projects for some of the biggest movie studios in the world, which is pretty exciting. I worked hard to get to where I’m at now and I’m very thankful for having the job I have.
Definitely everything I learned through the course helped me improve my skills and build a strong portfolio specific to the area I wanted to work in. The instructors saw how much I wanted it and they were always happy to look at my work-in-progress portfolio during the break or after a class and give me some tips. Getting the job of my dreams was definitely a mix of hard work and good education. I did my part by being the best student I could be, and the DCA program provided me the good education through the brilliant instructors they have. It was an honor to learn from professionals that are actually in the graphic design business and pursuing brilliant careers.

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What was your favorite class and why?
I had a few favorites but if I had to pick one I would say Entertainment Design. Jag (Jeff Aguila) did an amazing job introducing us to the different aspects of the field including posters, collateral materials, packaging, title treatments, etc. My favorite part was developing my creative ideas into comps. The whole process of researching, thinking, sketching and rendering different concepts in Photoshop really opens your mind. I think it was really important for me to learn that from the beginning. In a real work environment you usually don’t have the time to do all this process at such a deep level. That’s when all this learning experience you had at school makes the difference.

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As a designer, what does a potential project need to have for you to feel passionate about it?
I think every designer has their favorite categories they feel more comfortable working on. The perfect project to me is when it requires some of your strongest skills but also has that twist with something you haven’t really tried before. It’s important to be constantly challenged. It allows you to try different things, expand your knowledge and grow as a designer. Funny enough, the projects that I’m most satisfied with the results and most passionate about, always start with some struggle. That’s when you have to research, get critiques from your colleagues, explore more ideas, etc, and get the job done. It’s definitely harder than doing something you’re completely comfortable with, but when it’s finally successfully completed, you get that sense of accomplishment.

Congratulations, Rafael!

You can check out his website here. 

3 Responses to “Interview with Recent DCA graduate Rafael van Winkel”

  1. Ethan Di Cavalcanti April 12, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    Hey Rafael!!!
    Really loved reading about your experience as a student from the DCA certificate program at UCLA. I am trying to do the same just now! While reading your interview I noticed that you mentioned a few times that the course “helped you”” to improve your skills…So, you had prior experience or studied or worked in graphic design before attending the UCLA DCA certfication? So, what if the person applying for this certification, has no experience whatsoever in this field but want to complete this program at UCLA? Would this person graduate with the appropriate tools and skills to become a “”real graphic designer?” in this competitive field of work? It would be great to hear from anybody about my question. I just wnt to make sure I can pick the best program I can find. Thank you….Ethan.

    • Kate April 12, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

      Hi Ethan,
      Thanks for your interest in the DCA program. I’m the program advisor, Kate Reeves. The DCA program is designed for students with no previous art or design training. Most of our students are postgraduates who have studied an entirely different field. You don’t need any art or design education before beginning our program. Feel free to email me at dca@uclaextension.edu if you’d like more information.
      All best,

    • Rafael van Winkel May 29, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

      Hi Ethan. Thanks for the complements. I had some prior experience with graphic design but more focused on web design. You don’t need prior experience since you’ll start from the fundamentals of design and build up to more advanced practice classes. The program helped me to think more like a designer and develop my creative process. The assignments allow you to put them in practice and improve your skills. This program definitely offers what you need to start developing these skills and I highly recommend it if you want to get into this field. Wether you’re gonna be ready for the competitive work field or not depends on your efforts and dedication to your studies. The DCA definitely offers what you need to make it happen. Their incredible team of professors allow you to take an extra step whenever you’re up for the challenge. Take this course seriously and you’ll have a great career ahead of you.

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