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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind Editorial Sessions
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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Facing the design of a graphic design career

During my freshman year at NMU, it was so easy to say that I’m an art major. I had an entire four years ahead of me until I had to face the pressures of the adult world. But now, trekking into my junior year, I realize that the looming deadline of the post-college career is so much closer. But what exactly does a graphic design student need to prepare for?re-savanna_headshot

No stranger to the art building, I have a  concentration in graphic communications, aiming for a bachelor of fine arts degree. In the last years I’ve met several instructors full of knowledge and experience, ready to help and prepare any students.

For those unfamiliar with NMU’s art program, students in their junior or senior year go through a class that is a review of their portfolio and what they have to offer as a student. It’s a pass/fail class that goes by the daunting title of AD 303 (insert art student cry of despair here). So this adds even more to the laundry list of difficult endeavors.

I’ve studied graphic design since my junior year of high school. For me, this meant traveling to a career center for half of my day to eagerly learn the craft of the Adobe programs. I then graduated high school with a decent knowledge of graphic design, including the printing process and what it takes to design real-world things. At the same time, I learned that this was not going to be an easy career to tackle.

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Why do students on NMU’s campus decide to take on a art major? Because we love it. It’s definitely not the huge paycheck or the reliable job market. Art is something that we have passion for. Personally, I love seeing a stranger on campus look at something that I created, even just for a moment. But there’s still the daunting mountain of getting a paycheck for doing what you love.

For all my graphic designers out there, congratulations on knowing the difference between a sans-serif and serif typeface, as well as being able to define the meaning behind CMYK and RGB. There’s a special bond between those particular people who feel at home when opening Adobe InDesign or Illustrator, or who trek alongside Dreamweaver. By all means, get together with me and chat about how cool Stefan Sagmeister is, or the posters by Alphonse Mucha and his overall effect on today’s contemporary layouts. We have a specific skill set that can be so valuable if we know how to utilize it.

We as graphic designers have a challenging field to face. It’s a constantly shifting ocean of staying up to date with programs, knowing what’s trending, competing with fellow designers, and knowing the right connections to move forward with the field. On top of that, you still need the actual graphic design talent to keep afloat. In your career, you need to make connections to get your work into the world; there is no “making the best work and hoping for the best.” There’s a process of making a body of work and selling it to the right audience, and then staying active enough to make enough money to pay rent.

There’s no doubt that adult life is a dark shadow that approaches just a little bit closer every year. With art majors, especially my comrades here at NMU, that shadow is even more mysterious and unknown. In your time at NMU, remember to get all the education you can get, build strong connections with your peers and instructors, and never lose your passion for your chosen field.

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