Below are excerpts from a conversation between Queens College Design graduate Freddy Japa (Class of 2017), and Assistant Professor Ryan Hartley Smith about entering the job market after graduation, and advise for students considering a major and career in Design.
RHS: Hi Freddy! What have you been up to since graduation?
FJ: I‘ve been keeping myself busy on personal projects for my portfolio. Professionally I have been doing freelance work for clients thanks to social media. I am also currently applying to internships to obtain more experience and hopping to soon be part of a well-known agency.
RHS: Entering into the professional field of design is extremely 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?
FJ: Entering into the professional field has been competitive. There are many talented individuals in the field. Using the social media platform like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Behance have helped me a lot in exposing my work and networking. Throughout the social media platform I have been able to obtain many clients since I am currently a freelancer. LinkedIn has also become a great resource for me right now, as I am applying for both jobs and internships. For me exposing my work on every social media has really helped me a lot, I believe the more you expose your work the more individuals get to see it and could be a potential client.
RHS: How would you describe the work you’re making now, (both professional and personal work)?
FJ: Lately I have been focusing more on logo design and character design for clothing brands that are both small and large businesses. A recent project I worked on was creating a logo for a new restaurant called the “Kings of Tacos”. It was a nice experience and pretty awesome to see a restaurant use a logo I created.
RHS: You’ve done an amazing job at developing a huge social media following for your work. How did you make this happen and how is it useful for your career?
FJ: At the beginning I was very scared to put my work on social media. My fear was that my work would not be good enough and that people would dislike it. I ignored my fears and gave it a try, posting all my work on social media. The outcome was amazing! I was surprised to see how many people loved my work. I was completely over my fear and posted kept posting more of my work. People did not only like my stuff but started to contact me for design work ( logos. T-shirt designs, business cards etc.). I would definitely recommend using social media, it’s free so take advantage of it to expose your work to the world.
RHS: What are your professional goals for the near future? How do you plan on achieving them?
FJ: My professional goals for the near future is to create more work and try to develop my style more, so agencies can see what I am capable of creating. I would also like to work on getting more people to know about my work and expose my work more. I recently started a YouTube channel with videos of how my work is done in time-lapse.
RHS: Did you participate in an internship while at Queens College? If so, what was it? How did you get it? And what was the experience like?
FJ: I did participate in an internship while I was at QC. It was at an advertising agency J. Walter Thompson. I did this internship with other fellow friends from QC. The [Winter Semester] One Club program guided us into getting the internship. The experience was really amazing because it gave me an glimpse of how a agency actually functions and we had the opportunity to work alongside with head of art/ design to develop concepts for advertising campaigns.
RHS: What was your favorite Design course at QC and why?
FJ: The course that I enjoyed in QC was poster design. The instructor was Natalya Balnovaa, and I enjoyed her way of teaching the course. I also loved how she would challenge us and push us to work harder. She helped me develop my style eve more. I learned a lot and enjoyed creating poster designs and other projects.
RHS: What advice do you have for students who are considering pursuing a major in design?
FJ: The advice that I have for QC design major who are considering into pursuing a major in design is to work super hard all the time and to never be shy in asking for advice or help. I use to be shy and that held me behind a lot. The second I stopped being shy I started to ask help into building my portfolio. Thanks to all the feedback from great instructors I was able to build a strong portfolio. My last advice would be to get many internships because experience is very important.
RHS: What advice do you have for QC design majors who are beginning to search for internship and their first design industry jobs after graduation?
FJ: The advice that I have for QC design major who are beginning to search for internship and their first design industry jobs after graduation is to have a really solid portfolio. Have a lot of variation of projects from school and personal projects.
RHS: If you had to go through the QC design program again, what would you do differently?
FJ: If I had to go through the design program again, I would work even harder to create better projects for my portfolio, but most of all work on my typography.
RHS: Where can we see your portfolio?
FJ: You can all check out my work on my website www.japadesigns.com. I am also on various social media which are all listed on my website. I also have a YouTube channel- japadesigns, which you can subscribe to and watch some speed art videos of my work.