Below are excerpts from a conversation between Queens College Design graduate Jimmy Mercado (Class of Fall 2015), and Deputy Chair Ryan Hartley Smith about entering the job market after graduation, and lessons learned along the way.
RHS: Hi Jimmy, How was your summer?
JM: Hey! What’s up Ryan?! My summer has been pretty good but mostly busy. Just keeping myself relaxed, the usual lol.
How would you describe the work you’re making now, and what’s the work you’re most proud of?
Well, I’ve been keeping myself busy- most of my work is animation (either in After Effects or Cinema 4D), however my favorite animation work has been in Cinema. In addition to that, I’ll say the work I’m most proud of has to be my Coca Cola Advertisement Poster (below). I say this because I felt like it matched the design choices I’ve thought of at the time before I started it. Plus it’s cool to me! Many people gave that poster so many compliments which made me happy.
Where can we see your portfolio (website, behance, anything else..)?
Anyone can check out my work on my website (www.jimdesigns.net), my Instagram dedicated to my designs is slim_design, and any other social media platform I i didn’t say here is on the footer of my website. I’m starting to do alot of animations now so I’m excited about that! Please follow if you guys like the stuff you see!
I met you before you were a student at Queens College, when you were in high school and we both worked for a community mural organization called Groundswell. The project you worked on was the entrance to the 191st 1 stop in Washington Heights. Did that experience influence your decision to pursue a career in art and design?
Oh that’s rightttt!! haha I was sooooo young! I believe I was like 14. I was a teenager, you know, so I didn’t know what I was doing. I started painting and it was relaxing and fun. Never did anything like that! I loved the environment, but believe it me it wasn’t that experience which made me like the arts and design. What made me pursue a career in art and design was actually being curious about the processes of making a poster, animated movie, and Photoshop skills I’d seen online during my senior year of high school.
Does the process of making a mural influence your current design work in any way?
That’s a great question!! Believe it or not it kind of does! It’s just like you could learn painting or drawing in college. I take note of what I learn each time. Like painting the mural with Groundswell actually helped me know more about complimentary colors, primary colors, etc. I learned what colors pop and can engage an audience. With that in mind, I encourage new comers trying to get into design not to limit themselves to just the computer. Log off and use paper and [handmade] materials when you can, trust me it helps!
Entering into the professional field of design is super competitive and it can be difficult for recent graduates to balance supporting themselves, making new work for their portfolio, and networking / applying for jobs. How has this process been going for you?
Well, that experience being a recent graduate that I am is honestly putting in work, work and more work. I graduated Fall of 2015 and for me I spent 4 months making animations. I thought to myself “I want to be an animator so bad. I want work, but I’m not getting anywhere right now.” I saw Professor Hyesu Lee one day while I was passing by to say “hi.” She told me don’t give up and keep applying. Another month passed by and the work and animations I put in worked out! I’m glad to say I found my first internship in May and this turned into a part-time designer/animator position with the NY Mets in the fall!
That is awesome that you’re working for the Mets! What is your job title? What are your responsibilities?
Yeah I know right! I was surprised when I had the interview a few months back. To answer your question I did intern with them as a “Productions Animation Intern.” I started with the Mets in May and the paid internship continued on until last week. There were 6 other interns including myself that worked with Productions. Some interns were designers and others were interning to gain experience in being part of a production team. I got hired to work part-time with them for the rest of this baseball season since they saw my interest in helping the team. My responsibilities include designing and animating a “vs match-up” between the Mets and the visiting team. I also am using player images and placing them in the templates given to me by the Graphic Specialist. In addition, I work closely with the Director, the Graphic Specialist and others to come up with transition animations. For example, I generate ideas for replay wipes, logos, icons, and more to build in Cinema 4D and/or After Effects. I’ve already made some cool stuff for them that are up on the scoreboards!
That is so exciting! Well deserved! What are your other professional goals for this year? How do you plan on achieving them?
This year is all about making new things to put in my portfolio. I will focus more on animation to expand my horizons as an animator and designer. I plan to reach out to other animation-focused graphic design studios. I also plan on trying freelancing for a couple of my friend’s bosses. The way I’m approaching these things is just by applying, contacting people, and improving my work to show potential employers what I can do as a designer.
What was your favorite Design course at Queens College and why?
I don’t even have to think twice about this answer! If you asked anyone from my graduating class, they will tell you in a heartbeat “3D Animation & Modeling with Ben Voldman!” It was sooooo different from regular design. It included the 3D knowledge I’ve wanted to learn since the first time I got into art and design. I knew I would catch on fast and make it my “new thing”. Combining 3D with design and animating in Cinema 4D is the best!! However, Ben Voldman hands down gave me the basic tools to learn the rules and engaged his class in new ways to do things and it dragged my full attention. I would be the one asking questions and approaching him when I needed it. It was great to say I’ve taken alot from his class. When I started working for the Mets at Citifield, some of the creative artists thought I did really cool stuff thanks to the things I’ve learned at QC.
If you were able to go back and go through the Design program again (knowing what you’ve learned from entering the job market), what would you do differently?
If I had to go through the Design program again, I would’ve definitely liked to work more on my typography! I would’ve liked to change most of my designs to make them better than they were. Lastly, just approached my professors more and get the help to become better.
What advice do you have for students who are considering being a Design major?
I would say to you new folks “give it a shot!” Approach your professors when you want more knowledge and advice on your designs. Listen to the critiques you get in class and use them! When you learn from the critiques, it’ll make your designs 1000x better. Don’t be shy to speak your mind while critiquing because you help each other out! Aside from that, never give up post-graduation if you haven’t had work because SOMEONE WILL NOTICE YOU! Try finding an internship during your school years and if you still haven’t found anything don’t put your head down yet. Keep working and that hard work will push you to a point you’ll get a job.