Design Graduates Ready to Join the Workforce

I was asked to be a panelist for a portfolio review at Lake Washington School of Technology. The portfolios presented were from graduating students in the design program. Half were game design and half were other graphic design.

Lake Washington is my alma mater and where I got my associates degree in multimedia design & production (I later got my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in visual communications at a different school).

Most of the students blew me away during their portfolio presentations. Sure, most displayed a little nervousness, but I totally understood…I still get a bit nervous and tongue-tied when I have to speak in front of a group. It’s gotten easier over the years, but back when I was in my early 20s, I could feel my face getting hotter/redder and shook like a leaf!

Back to the presentations…the part that I didn’t expect was the little take-aways they handed out at the end of their presentation. These little mementos made them memorable…if they do the same thing at future job interviews, they will ensure that they stand out to potential employers and give them a better chance at landing the job!

Here are my impressions of my favorite graduating students.

Elizabeth Hart
Graphic Design

Elizabeth felt like a kindred spirit to me. She displayed some of the same nervous patterns that I have exhibited. She handed me a spiral-bound portfolio booklet that she made herself. It included an identity package, a catalog, a poster illustration, a logo design, and a website redesign. She explained her process for each of the projects, which were also displayed on a big screen.

My favorite piece was her Elinov Aeronautics! It really captured that it was an aeronautics company and the “o” in the name made you really think of a propeller spinning. Her font choice was spot on for this particular design, too.

I also loved the great blending she did in her poster piece…it showed great Illustrator skills!

Note: This is a photo taken with a cellphone, so color is not accurate.

Xury Greer
Game Design – Character Modeler

I don’t know that much about game design and have never played with any of the software tools that designers use in their chosen field.

Xury’s passion is character modeling. He showed us several great characters he modeled in 3-D, showing their sculpting, texturing, mesh, rigging and animation. It was so fascinating and he presented his pieces in a way that allowed me to understand his process.

My favorite piece was his dinosaur-like monster that he designed for a game called “Dont Get Et.” Since it was geared towards kids, he needed to make a monster that looked scary, yet not too scary to smaller kids. He did this by giving him a jiggly, fat belly and exaggerated mouth.

Another piece that was really great was Hugo, a sort of mix between a manatee and a lobster. This piece had more moving parts than the dinosaur monster.

At the end of the presentation, Xury gave us a 3-D printer rendering of the dinosaur monster to take home. I can’t wait to paint him!

Since Xury did such an excellent job of talking through his process, I really think he’ll succeed in his chosen career!

Michele Sweeney
Graphic Design

Michele is the owner of Epicuran Delights, a private vocational studio offering education in baking, cooking, cake decorating, cookie design, chocolate and sugar art classes for adults and children. She took the design course at Lake Washington in order to do her own marketing materials and website.

Michele’s design style is very clean and balanced. She makes good font choices and understands color theory. She also displayed great self-confidence during her presentation.

Her take-away piece was a gift box with her sugar cookie dough recipe, sprinkles, decorating tip, cookie cutter and a real cookie that had her name on it (which was really yummy and eaten as soon as I got home). The recipe card had her contact info on the back. This piece and the way it was presented really made her memorable!

Andrea Conant-Machl
UX/UI design

Andrea had some really strong pieces in her design portfolio and it was hard to pick a favorite. I absolutely loved her panagram, her farmers market poster and her typography book (I could tell that typography was her favorite thing).

Prior to moving to the US and attending Lake Washington, Andrea was already working as a graphic designer in Munich, Germany. Having a degree in the US will only add to her chances of landing a great job in the Seattle area!

Andrea gave me a tealight lantern that she made herself. The lantern was part plastic and part heavy card stock, both of which were laser cut (I have no idea how she really did this since I have no experience trying it myself). The gift was great on its own, but she turned an ordinary cellophane bag into something creative by adding a place for her business card and enabling the bag to close easily.

Kara Pfaff
Game Design – Concept Character Artist

Kara seems right at home sketching and illustrating characters. I got the sense that she was probably a doodler as a child and probably drews fantasy characters from her imagination. She loves coming up with character concepts for games. This is another area that I have never explored, so it was fascinating to learn about the process.

Kara’s take-away piece was a set of playing cards that she designed. The back of the cards depicted her family crest. The face of the cards had characters that represented earth, air, fire and water for each suit. She successfully created characters that had mirrored images for the facecards.

Jorge Camacho
Multimedia Design

Jorge’s portfolio presentation wasn’t the typical PowerPoint one. He used After Effects to create a truly multimedia portfolio that showcased what he could do.

Using his own photos that he took with his camera, Jorge shows his mastery of composites and lighting. Two of my favorites were his composite of himself (making him look like he had longer hair, wearing a loin cloth and really buff) and a pyramid, making the image look like it was advertising a game or a movie poster. The other was a composite of his relatives dressed up like Super Mario Brothers and changing the photo into more of an illustration, with fireballs and Bowser chasing them.

Jorge gave me a cellphone stand that he made himself out of wood and burning a design into it (and I think maybe some laser cutting).

Be sure to go to each student’s website to view more work!

Spread the love

Leave a Comment