Today we are holding a meeting, dreamt up and run by Shannon Moore, Angie Andrews, and John Olsen. The items on the dockett being: How can we either change directions for the better or build a separate illustration function? What helpful critiques can be made to build the illustration department in terms of curriculum and faculty and facility? What can the seniors do to make the experience of the under classmen meet all the expectations that we found lacking?
I am very excited that Directions happened this way, because it lit the metaphorical fire under the illustration seniors' asses. Now that we're hoppin' mad, hopefully we can channel this into a positive and lasting change for the school and for our community.
Here is, by the by, what I experienced at Directions:
I hate being sick. I hear swine flu is really terrible to have. I try to avoid getting sick, don’t you? But sometimes, social events get people together, and some of those people may have swine flu. It is very difficult to avoid getting sick when greeting a lot of people. I am the perfect picture of health today, thank you for asking. Where were we? Ah, yes. Directions:
Where to begin? I did not have the highest hopes for Directions. I tempered my excitement with soft, cooing words of acceptance: there will be no jobs, they aren’t there for you David, or even, at least you will be able to shake professional hands.
And that is where I was wrong. Not only did I shake a grand total of four hands (one of which I forced upon my viewer—he didn’t seem to want to look in my eyes), but I hardly spoke. I wasn’t sheepish, and I have excellent public relation skills. The fact of the matter is that no one wanted to give us a chance, and many of their reactions to our area where verging on rude.
Quick glances, avoiding our eyes, looking straight ahead and ignoring the fact that there were living, breathing people with four years of work sitting on the tables in front of them was the order of the day. At least I was not in danger of getting swine flu.
Like I said, I wasn’t looking for a job. I didn’t plan on walking out of there with a pay stub and employee benefits. But I wanted a chance to show my work, or at the very least some experience presenting myself as an artist. There was no chance given to any of the illustrators there to do anything but stand in one place for four hours (which we did with aplomb). There were many reasons for this.
One, they put the students all the employers wanted to see in the front of the gallery, allowing the flow of professionals into the illustration area to be all but staunched. Two, they labeled us. We as illustrators can design every bit as well as the ad-graph people. Illustrators know the programs, know the mediums, and know how to connect to audiences. But because we were labeled illustration no employers expected us to have experience in design. Directions should be a free for all. All majors, every table, no labels. It makes the experience longer for the employers to find a suitable fit, but by labeling certain students as something that they don't want, it limits the potential of other majors to fit into their needs. I know quite a few of my friends in illustration who have a separate and excellent advertising portfolio who were never once glanced at. This was an offense.
Personally, I can say this: I was happy to have all my artwork out. My website is done, I am branded, and I am feeling more professional than ever now that my portfolio is finished. I loved setting up my booth and being able to see the work of my peers. I loved that I could grab business cards from all of my friends. But Directions was a colossal waste of my time. It was four hours of standing in place watching people pass us awkwardly. Four hours I could have spent on the last of my homework. Four hours I could have spent online doing tons more for myself than Directions ever did. Either this has to change, or illustrators should not be forced to do it. Maybe they should be told to avoid it. Avoid it like the swine flu.