Catch up with some of our past interns--where they are, what they're doing, where they work, what they're looking at and listening to, etc... Check back often to see new profiles.
KIRSTEN ELIZABETH KEISTER
Graphic Designer at Gordon College
As the guinea pig of Return Design, I learned a lot about what works and what doesn't when it comes to design internships--and I know that Return Design works. By the time I graduated from Gordon I was not only a better designer, but I had years of real design experience: real jobs, real clients, real time.
Click the image to the left to view Kirsten's work and workplace
I have my own freelance design company called Lamppost, which essentially sucks all of my available time and probably has something to do with my complete lack of social life. I do both print and web design, including a website and marketing materials for a barn-building company here in MA, as well as websites for a several artists. I've also recently created several logos and a multitude of business cards.
When I do manage to snag some time away from my computer, I typically pick up a paintbrush and watercolor or gouache. I'm currently fascinated by transparency and layers and am in the process of doing a series of self-portrait explorations using those concepts.
All of my freelance work typically starts curled up on the couch or bed, sketchbook in hand, and quickly graduates to my being parked in front of my computer at home--a PC (since I prefer them to Macs) that I built myself. Work occurs in a very unscheduled fashion, usually in the evenings, whenever I can grab an hour or two. In the interest of getting paid, every job has an excel spreadsheet that keeps track of my hours. If only my note-taking and sketching could be that organized! At home, file folders are my best friends.
Although some of my personal art is done on the computer, I tend to try and stay away from it when I'm 'doing art.' I sit on a floor pillow in my living room, legs tucked under the coffee table, paper, water and paints at my fingertips. And, of course, I cannot create without the always-present cup of tea!
This is always a hard question to answer, because the most random things so often inspire me. I'm also inspired by things that I don't even realize at the time are inspiring me. I like bright colors and clean simple lines--I love industrial design and am impressed by designers and artists that create something that does or says something in as concise a way as possible.
My inspiration for graphic design related projects comes primarily from the internet (to see what's new, what I'm 'competing against') but also The Big Book of Design Ideas and any of the other design books that I've managed to find $$ to buy.
The latest book that's inspired my personal artwork is Book Designed To Help--which is a fascinating mix of artists that integrate very different mediums in their art--and somehow make it work!
For me, music is essential to getting through any art-related project successfully. I get in the design groove with ATB, Sigur Ros, Sasha, Autechre, Afro Celt Soundsystem and BT (to name just a few). My art is more often complimented by artists who have a combination of amazing lyrics and good music, or simply put me in the right mood: Vertical Horizon, LIVE, Sting, Jimmy Eat World, Mat Kearney, Duncan Sheik--again, just to name a few.
GRANT RUSSEL HANNA
I spent 5 semesters working for Return Design, months which gave me a solid background in design principles and in working with clients. Return Design was an excellent opportunity to get hands-on experience and design mentorship. From the first semester, interns meet with clients, go through multiple rounds of design revisions as part of the creative process, and have the opportunity to work one-on-one with the director.
Click the image to the left to view Grant's work
I'm the Web Editor for the College Communications department at Gordon. I edit the text for the College website, produce banners and graphics for the web, and occasionally do illustrations for STILLPOINT magazine. I've done freelance design and illustration, including a catalog for the Appalachian Mountain Club and posters, packaging and promotional materials for bands such as After The Sirens, Radka and Hello Mahalo, and designs for an up-and-coming apparel company. Since graduating, I've mainly been doing acrylic paintings, often of rabbits, with forays into digital illustration.
I work in the Return Design office in the Physical Plant building, along with Tim Ferguson-Sauder, and all the Re-interns. My double-wide monitor array aids multitasking. I do most of my freelance work at the last minute, at my drawing desk or crouched on the floor by the coffee table, making use of any labor-saving devices at my disposal, like Photoshop and a little light-box. It often happens late at night. I listen to techno or Joanna Newsom through my noise-cancelling headphones and go to an extremely focused place.
I have a studio at the Redbrick Arts Association in Beverly, where I get my painting done. Its a pretty big space that I share with Michelle Arnold, another Gordon alum. I put on some music and my German McDonald's apron and get down to business. The secret to making art while keeping a full-time job and a full-time social life is to remember that everything can be done in discrete steps, which don't take long and can (actually, have to) be shoehorned in between other tasks, like making dinner, cleaning, visiting out-of-state- friends and sleeping.
Currently my biggest inspirations artistically are the works of contemporary Japanese artists like Takashi Murakami and Hisashi Tenmyouya, and works from my own sketchbooks, stretching back over the last seven years or so. Often frustrated with my desire to paint but my lack of ideas of what to paint, I began going back through old sketchbooks, and revisiting ideas that I still found interesting, but until now had been chained into the old books. I began scanning them (possibly with subconscious Murakamian undertones) and have assembled a digital library of sketches, which I can print out at whatever scale I like and work back over using a lightbox, in order to consolidate the sketched lines into the crispness that I seek for working drawings.
The music of Joanna Newsom has brought me though many hours of painting, as have the stream of numbers that Philip Glass produces in Einstein On The Beach. Other favorites are CocoRosie, Devendra Banhart, the Killers, Joni Mitchell, and Björk.
Books I keep coming back to are Little Boy and © Murakami--exhibition catalogs of shows by Murakami, a collection of prints and paintings by Katsushika Hokusai. Non-art books that I love include Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut, Crampton Hodnet by Barbara Pym, and The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen, a lengthy but fascinating study of island biogeography.
DOROTHEA (D*RO) CHANG
I am wherever I need to be (currently this is between Yardley, PA, East Brunswick, NJ, New York, NY, Providence, RI, and Boston, MA)
Two amazing semesters in Return Design not only gave me my first taste of graphic design, but acted as the catalyst in me pursuing the study full on as a major and eventual career goal.
Having just graduated from Rhode Island School of Design, I am currently...free. While being in limbo isn't a great place to stay for a
prolonged period of time, it's been the perfect place for me to regroup, assess and absorb all that I've learned, and work on personal projects, past projects, and a future projection for myself.
In more concrete terms, this has recently comprised of remaking some portfolio pieces, redesigning my portfolio presentation, revamping my website, making a few gifts as thank you's for friends, starting a website for a friend's start-up company, working on a cd cover and design for another's, and finishing up a cd package for a teacher. Beginning an art/letter correspondence with a third friend is in the works.
Reflecting on all my past desks and studio spaces, I have noticed that I always need a fairly large desk space (facing away from my all-too-comfy bed). This is so that I can have all my tools close at hand and still have space to work--my laptop in one corner as reference while playing music; my glue, scissors, Olfa knife, cutting board in another; a few books and magazines on typography, grids, design, and book-making in a third, and my sketchbook pretty much in the center. The trash can is always close by and,
I'm going to be very 90's hippie now, so is the recycling. As always, ample light is definitely a must.
Whether I was a student, employed, or interning, the trick became finding time and energy to continue developing one's own interests and staying fresh. Because finding a space devoted entirely to me and my work is at times impossible, I found myself keeping sanity through little projects in quiet corners. This becomes more of a matter of perspective than anything else--tired of making art that meets external demands? Painting one's nails becomes an absorbing and quick little art project that meets YOUR desires. A six hour bus ride transforms into a small cubicle of space to spy on others and sketch out some characters. One's bed 10 minutes before shut-eye is the perfect place to turn the day's events and tomorrow's goals into a visual information experiment.
Inspiration, to me, has always come from the most random places. Sometimes I draw them from life lessons, conversations from friends, the process or workplace of my fellow designers or artists...other times I may be inspired by a short film, an illustration, or random moments that happen such as coffee stains, pencil shavings, and graffiti. The most important thing is to keep the well from which you draw information always filled. Never be too busy to sketch, reflect, or stop to ask questions about other people's work
While I admit not many music pieces have directly inspired my work (yet), I like to listen to it constantly to keep up the pace and energy in my work. The artists I find myself listening to most frequently are along the lines of Air, Zero 7, and Alicia Keys.
I have just recently been reintroduced to the wonderful world of books when I regained some of that elusive "free time." Books that have created a particularly beautiful world for me to mull over are Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clark and Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. I have also discovered artist books, which have opened up new ways of viewing narration and book structure as well as construction techniques.