Review of Salem State University Portfolio Day 2016

It was a rainy raw Monday in Salem MA as I approached Salem FiveBank. Eagerly anticipating the Salem State Graphic Design Portfolio day, I forgot to look at the directions. Although I had passed the bank many times before, I didn’t actually know where to go. As I got closer to the bank I saw a young man with a Salem State hoodie on and a black bag walking confidently towards the double doors. Surely he was going to Portfolio Day. I soon realized he was in fact not going to Portfolio Day but rather delivering pizza. Nevertheless he knew where I was going and kindly directed me to the right set of doors. Thank you pizza guy.

As I entered the double doors to Portfolio Day, I saw thirty or so of the schools’ students presenting a compilation of their best works. Representatives from different companies walked around getting to know the students and hear their “pitch”. For any artist who has decided to go to school to pursue a career in visual art, Portfolio day is like the Olympics. All the education you have received and art you have made over the past four years have all been leading up to this day, and although the physical requirement to be in the shape of an Olympian is not necessary you still need to be mentally sharp as a tack. No matter how burnt out and overly-caffeinated you are from the last three weeks of all-nighters and dominos pizza, you have to be ready to sell your product. For some, they will be offered a job or at least get a lead. For others, it is a learning experience in advertising and interviews. Either way it is a fun, stressful, happy day.


The event started with a wonderful presentation by the keynote speaker James Kwon, the CEO, and head UI/UX Chef at Fig mints. Judging by his title he seems like a very talented dude. James was a very well spoken and funny guy. He gave us an in-depth look at how you can take an idea out of the pits of design hell and totally reform it into a fabulous masterpiece.

unnamed3unnamed4After a short intermission of treats from Panera, the students reported to their stations and the reviewing began. I met a lot of fantastic young artists. The portfolios were bursting with media; spanning from animations to business cards, websites and invitations. I spoke with the students about their experience at Salem State and their future goals as artists. Many of them wanted to find a job working with an agency. Others were ready to take on the world as a freelancer. Then the hard questions came out, like what do you know about printing? While a few knew a little, most answers were universally “nothing”. This was good because my goal was to educate. We talked about the different styles of printing and the different paper types and weights. I quizzed them on paper weight and explained to them that the relationship between a graphic designer and a printer is like peanut butter and jelly. We went over the importance of knowing how something is going to print and the different types of paper you might use. We talked about different methods of cutting and a great place to get their prints done wink, wink. When Professor Alves announced at 3:00 the event was over, a huge sigh of relief echoed through the building. The seniors had made it through unscathed, inspired, and knowing a little more about the profession that they are entering.

I had a great time visiting the students at Salem State University on this special day. I made a lot of new connections and feel glad to have taught the students some important basics about printing. It is always nice to collaborate with fellow artists, and see what the future brings for Graphic Design!



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