IADT Success Story: Q&A with Graphic Design Alum Kris Gonzales
April 4, 2013
•IADT General, Graphic Design, IADT Sacramento
• 4 Comments
Kris Gonzales earned a BFA in Graphic Design from IADT-Sacramento in 2012 and currently works as a Web Design Assistant at Jessup University. We talked to him about how he landed his job, the appeal of digital design and his advice for students looking to enter the workplace. See examples of his professional work throughout the Q&A below.
You’re now working at Jessup University in their Development Department. What’s your role there?
I’m their Web design assistant right now. My position was created because the webmaster who was doing the Web page and the graphic work was getting so much work because the university is experiencing so much growth that they had to bring somebody in. When I interviewed, they saw I had some Web experience but not all that they were looking for, but I had a lot of graphic design experience, so they tailored the position to more of a graphic-related one because they liked me. I handle all the graphic styles, any mailers, any promotional materials.
So you’re handling the graphic design side while he handles the programming?
Exactly. Because there are a lot of tickets submitted, I’ve been clearing that queue. Once we have that cleared, I’m going to help on more of the Web design aspect.
What made you want to focus on the digital side of design?
My father, Chris Gonzales, was the one who’s always been my greatest motivator and my greatest supporter. He always told me I can do anything artistically. When I was a kid, I was self-taught. But one thing I didn’t know how to do was the digital side, and I’ve always had a desire to make Christian designed T-shirts - they are not that well designed right now. So my father said he saw this school, IADT-San Antonio, and he said I should go over there because I was living in California at the time. Come to school here, you can stay here, live rent free, and you can go to school. And I wasn’t sure but I saw this commercial over here in Sacramento, Calif., for the same school … so it was so coincidental that it led me to go there.
What lessons or ideas did you pick up at IADT that you still apply today?
What IADT taught me was design fundamentals – I think that’s the hub, and it all falls underneath that. I use that every day: what colors look good, what typeface to use, how is it laid out, is this showing hierarchy, is this showing the message, is this laid out correctly for the viewer’s eye, is there enough light space? Stuff like that is what I use all the time at work.
Now that you’re in the field, what do you find the most interesting or challenging about the work you’re doing now?
I think what happens is that when you’re working in the field, you have to be very flexible. Let’s say I’m working a project that has a deadline, but then since it’s such a big university, something [else] will come through the pipe and you have to stop what you’re doing and take care of that right now so it’s done by the end of the day. I think that can be challenging if you’re not flexible. You have to have a willingness to say, “Okay, no problem, I can take care of that” and a can-do attitude, because if you have a positive attitude at work, people are willing to work with you better.
How did you find this job, and what tips would you offer IADT students entering the workplace?
My wife has a master’s degree in higher education, and she was applying for jobs in the area, and she got hired on at Jessup. While she was meeting the people there, she came across the development department and met Rob, the webmaster, and she said, “My husband does graphic design” and they said I should apply, so that was it from there.
What I would tell students looking for work is that you have to be consistent, you have to be proactive. You cannot be procrastinating. You have to put yourself out there, have your online presence, have your portfolio ready, a link to your work, have your resume looked at several times. Try not to get discouraged. I got a lot of no’s before I got this job; a lot of people saying, “No, this isn’t what we’re looking for” or “You’re overqualified” or “This isn’t the direction we’re going in, we want someone with more experience.”
So don’t give up, don’t get discouraged, try to have a positive attitude, because eventually you’ll find a job. Just have your things ready, though – thank-you notes, portfolio, business cards; when it comes to the interview, you have to be ready to go.
For those interested in attending, or already attending, a design school like IADT, what kind of advice would you share?
When I was a student it was very hard for me to meet deadlines. For students interested in design, number one: follow your passion. Number two: Start off doing all your homework on time, take it seriously, take it for real. You’re investing so much money into the school, don’t take it for granted. This is to help you. If you don’t have the right attitude as a student, how are you going to have it in the real world? There’s no do-overs like that. Try to be professional.
Being in the workforce before I came to IADT gave me experience. I was in my late twenties when I started, and being in the real world told me what to expect. There’s no turning back. This was my livelihood; if I didn’t make it here, I wouldn’t make it in the real world, so it was really important to me to be successful.
I do want to mention also about certain people within IADT really helped me out. The Career Services Director, Vicky Parsons, really helped me with my resume, on how to be professional and apply for jobs. She helped me have the mindset to get a job. Jefferson Garcia, the director of IT, was my supervisor in work-study and is a mentor and friend. Sherwyn Flores, who is the director of admissions, gave me many opportunities to design for the IADT-Sacramento campus and was a strong advocate and encourager. Woodland taught me so much about design, and Vallene Hardman-Weeda inspired me to continue with my art.
I recommend everyone try work-study, get to know your professors and learn everything you can. They really helped prepare me for my job.
All work shown copyright Kris Gonzales.
Ian Forbes is a freelance writer from San Diego. He is the Founder/Senior Editor of the film review website www.soberingconclusion.com and Membership Chair of the San Diego Film Critics Society.
Reported March 2013