DPS student Annete Sreibere asks ‘how to..?’ in her reflection on love, passion, interviews and working for free.
“How to use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry, and (every once in a while) change the world” is a book by Michael Bierut and my latest reading material. “How to” showcases thirty-five of Bierut’s projects and describes the story, process and thoughts behind them.
Any of the chapters for me as a design students are extremely interesting. To see how these projects have come together and especially what are Bierut’s thoughts on different problems that designers face every day. One of the chapters/sections tells about Bierut’s work for Parallax Theatre - How to work for free. Beirut tells story about his school friend Victor D’Altorio. Victor wanted to follow a career as an actor and Michael started out as a designer. Michael did posters for all the plays that Victor was in or later would direct. He did all the posters for free. Beirut writes:
“First, the work was fun. Victor would explain what the play was about in two sentences, and would send me the text that had to go on the poster. The explanation was always vivid and inspiring, and the text was always complete and free of typographical errors.
Second, after receiving my design, Victor would permit himself a single question: ‘How can I thank you?”
Finally, he never promised me exposure to movie stars on opening night or high-paying jobs down the road. I think as an actor, he understood what so many clients don’t: that for a creative person the real award is to simply do the work. Getting a “Hey, Mike?” call from Victor meant I’d have one more chance to do my best.”
Reading this paragraph was like a little reminder of why I am here and why I study and that this is what I love to do. Just to point out, of course not everything you do should be for free. But I think free work gives you complete freedom to do whatever you can possibly think of. The financial responsibility that you are getting paid doesn’t exist there. And if it works out and your work ends up on the wall, even better.
If I were to write one of the chapters now, it would most likely be called “How to smash an interview”. It would be a story about me being so stressed out that I think I will stop breathing but then finding out that everyone is very nice and I didn’t have to worry so much. Interviews will always be difficult - what they want to see in my portfolio? Should I start with typography or should I start with photography? Should I talk a lot? Should I shut up? Am I dressed appropriately? Do I have enough in my portfolio or maybe is it too much? Am I happy and enthusiastic enough or am I too annoying already?! The thing is, it is difficult, but what I have been reminding myself is that I am a student and they know it. For now, I’m sticking with a decent amount of enthusiasm and well-presented and organized portfolio.