WIP It Into Shape

In February AIGA WM hosted WIP It Into Shape at Atomic Object. This annual event joins local design professionals with area college students to review their in-process portfolios. Now that the students’ semesters are done, we thought we would connect with a student and a reviewer to see how the event went.

Courteney Schulke | Senior Graphic Design Student at Grand Valley State University

Have you attended this event before? How did you hear about it?
I heard about this event from my professor, Vinicius Lima. I had an idea what the event would be like, but I did not know the type of feedback that I would be getting. I was not sure about how much time we would get individually with the reviewers.

What was the meeting with the reviewer like? Who did you meet with?
I met with four different reviewers: Carlos Estrada, Sarah Brockett, Lauren Pinner, and Emily Bode. They all were very helpful with feedback. Carlos Estrada told me the most insightful piece of advice which was to be confident in your work. I was weak on explaining my work and telling him why I chose the things I did with my design, and I think that this advice has helped me with some of my interviews for internships that I have had recently.

What would you tell someone who hasn’t been to this event before?
Be prepared with work, your resume and a business card. Even though it was semi laid back, act like it is an interview because the reviewers are professionals, and so are you.

Lauren Pinner | WIP It Into Shape Reviewer, In-House Designer at Steelcase

Have you attended this event before (either as a student or a reviewer)? Was it similar to other portfolio reviews? How was it different?
Yes! I attended this as a student during my senior year at Ferris (2013). The thing I appreciated about this event as a student was the fact that since my portfolio was still a work in progress I was able to take the reviewers’ feedback and make improvements to my work based on that. Which was very different from, say, my senior portfolio review, which was basically just a showcase of my finished work. Both are important, but I found the “work in progress” approach to be really helpful.

What advice/insight/feedback did you provide?
One of the things I like to see in students’ work is a clear demonstration of their design process. So I would ask a lot of them, “How did you get to this final solution? What was the assignment for this project? What concept did you build this idea from?” and tried to encourage them to show more of that thought process, if they weren’t already.

I also know that, for many seniors especially, the Spring semester is a discouraging, stressful season: trying to race to finish your portfolio, graduate, and find a job all at the same time. And sometimes you get so deep into your own work that you don’t know if the stuff you’re making is even good anymore… so I also just tried to encourage students and say, “Hey, this thing you made is really, really cool! You are a really talented designer! Your concepts are powerful and effective! You have a good eye for design! And there is a light at the end of the tunnel! You will sleep again! Keep it up!”

What would you tell someone who hasn’t been to this event before?
As a student, showing your work to other people (especially professionals) can be really intimidating. It’s a really vulnerable thing. But I would encourage students to put themselves out there and take that risk. Not only do you get the chance to receive really helpful feedback to improve your work, but, chances are, the event will be really encouraging to you as well. You might just find out that people in the real world actually like your work!

By AIGA West Michigan
Published June 1, 2017