October 04, 2016
Q + A with Graphic Design major Robert Brown
Why did you choose the Cleveland Institute of Art?
The Cleveland Institute of Art was the only art school I applied to. I also applied to state schools, but I realized this school has a lot of connections and there’s a lot going on in the city right now.
Why was an art-school education important to you?
I don’t have to take a bunch of random classes. Yes, I have to take liberal arts classes, but they all enhance my studio art. The professors understand that this is an art school, so you’re allowed to base classroom projects off your studio work.
How did you go about choosing your major?
I always wanted to do graphic design. In third grade, I wrote a paper about my uncle, a graphic designer at the time. Right out of high school, he got a job at Ernst & Young, and gradually he worked his way up. He gave me these answers and I thought, oh, this is kind of cool, I didn’t know this was a thing. In eighth grade, I went to New York City with my family and just to see all of the advertisements going on there — I’ve never had any second guesses about what I wanted to do with my life.
What do you want to focus on after school?
I’m applying to some graduate schools, and there’s a new (field) called data visualization and data design. I’m really passionate about designing maps with a bunch of data. It’s not your typical graphic design, like branding or marketing. My sophomore year, I created a project about Massimo Vignelli, he’s the guy who designed the New York subway map, so it was like an homage to him. It was like, “Oh, this is what I enjoy doing.“
What have you found the CIA faculty to be like?
I’ve had some strong faculty influences, both inside and outside my major. They’re really open with you about what you’re creating, but they still enforce a strong work ethic. You have to push yourself, but they’re open about your own ideas.
What do you think about your studio space?
From my studio I can see all the way down Euclid Avenue. There’s a bunch of little shops, a Dunkin Donuts, the bookstore. Even farther down there’s MOCA – the location is just perfect. On nice days when it’s really sunny, there’s natural light and it pumps up everyone’s mood.
Have you had any internships?
I’ve worked at Spectrum Diversified Designs, a product company out in Streetsboro. I did a lot of photography and Photoshop things for them. That really helped me with my Photoshop skills and my photography skills, and then I took a couple of photo classes outside of that. So the internship pushed me toward not just being a graphic designer. It helped me improve on documenting my work.
I’ve interned at Richardson Design, and they’re an interior architecture and interior design firm here in Cleveland. The founder, Scott Richardson, was a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art. I did a lot of logo work. I did branding for his second company, which is Modern Smart Homes.
Have there been any surprises in your college career?
Honestly, I feel that here, my work has grown tremendously. I wasn’t expecting to be this well versed in what makes good and what makes bad design. And then also just the classmates, the people in my major. We hang out outside class, but at the same time we push each other to be designers. Everybody wants each other to be the best they can be.
What would you say to prospective students?
Really think about what you want to do, and also what you think you can get out of the school. All schools have different advantages. Look for something that’s going to push you overall, not only what you want to do but also work outside your field.
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