Giving children the chance to see different career opportunities in art is probably the most exciting thing an aspiring young artist can learn about. It gives creative children hope that their dreams are achievable and that their talents can grow into something that’s worth working towards.
It’s important to cover great artists like Frida, Picasso and Van Gogh – but times have changed in the art scene. So, it helps to shine a light on real life working artists, in order to steer children in the right direction and give them modern examples of what successful artists are doing today.
After the tech industry exploded, graphic design quickly became the most popular career choice for art students.
WHAT IS GRAPHIC DESIGN?
Graphic design is a way for companies to share their values and vision through typography, photography and illustration. Companies hire graphic designers to visually communicate their brand’s personality by building unique color stories and styling.
This art form mostly exists in the digital realm, but still uses core design elements like symmetry, balance, flow, repetition, pattern, color theory, typography and additionally, the emotional intelligence to craft something that will connect with people.
We have our own resident graphic design genius right here in the office.
Alexis provides Deep Space Sparkle with its own unique styling, graphics, drawing guide handouts, website designs (and hand drawn patterns!), digital marketing visuals and more…
She has been a powerhouse of creativity and we’re grateful to share her knowledge with you and your students!
Alexis hails from a small village in Ohio, but she moved to Columbus, Ohio to study art formally. She obtained her BFA in Illustration from the Columbus College of Art and Design, and she has over a decade of experience designing digitally. She leapt at an opportunity to move to California, and is now happy to find herself in the sparkly world of art education.
From designing lesson plan PDFs to curating the new branding for The Sparklers’ Club launch, if it reaches our readers, it probably crosses her desk at some point.
Q & A WITH ALEXIS
Q: How do you pick a career in art?
A: Picking an art career is combining art with your other interests.
For instance, when you mix art with computers, you can get graphic design! Art and sewing = fashion design, art and medicine = medical illustrator, art and psychology = art therapy, art and experimentation = fine arts, art and people = photography, art and environments = architecture.
So, being good at art alone isn’t enough, it’s when you make it personal to yourself that you really find success and something you love.
Q: How can kids start exploring graphic design at a young age?
A: I think now more than ever, kids have a huge opportunity to explore careers in graphic design, and an abundant amount of tools and resources to do so. They might be doing graphic design already and not even know it! Something as simple as putting stickers on their pictures in social media, or making all of their icons match a theme on your phone, can be a creative exploration into graphic design.
So, pointing out to kids everyday things like signs, posters, symbols and even worksheets at school, and then asking how it could be different, is a great exercise.
For example: If it’s confusing, how can it be clearer? If it’s boring, how can it be more fun? Let them come up with solutions that make their environment more exciting!
Q: What challenges have you faced as a graphic designer?
A: The thing that makes graphic design different from other art forms is that it’s all about finding creative ways to solve problems.
The problem I consistently run into as an artist now (and even as a kid growing up) is that I want to see certain images or have things done in new ways, but they don’t exist yet. And what continually motivates me as an artist is that if you want to see something in the world, sometimes you have to be the one to put it there.
The added challenge of graphic design is that it mainly focuses on other people’s problems, not just your own. It’s hard enough to get what is inside your head out onto the screen, but it’s extra hard to get what is inside other people’s head onto the screen as well. So it’s a lot of feelings, collaboration and reiteration that results in a great final product.
Q: What is your favorite thing about working in graphic design?
A: Having the ability to dream up anything I want, and then being able to bring it into the physical world! I’m always making my own phone wallpapers, shirts, patterns for fabrics, posters, birthday cards – you name it!
My family and friends definitely benefit from having an on-call artist to make them stuff too. And also seeing my work out in the wild! Whether it’s on the Deep Space Sparkle website, on a handout in the classroom or coming across your screen as you scroll through social media.
I love knowing that a part of my work is out there making someone’s life better, even in a small way.
Q: Can you tell us about your own elementary art teacher, Mrs. Farr?
A: Yes! I found out not too long ago that my elementary school art teacher is a Sparkler! (Hi Mrs. Farr!)
She saw me in a picture that we put up for Valentine’s Day and I was amazed that she recognized me! Being from a small rural community, her art class was the first place that I was introduced to classic artists and any kind of art elements.
It was also the place where I had access to paints and markers which always seemed very special in our small school. One of my favorite memories was the first time we made our very own “art portfolio” to keep all of our work that we had done throughout the year.
I was so proud to have all of my work in one spot with my name drawn in great big letters on the front. So, thank you to Mrs. Farr for being an early influence on my art journey!
HOW TO PURSUE A CAREER IN GRAPHIC DESIGN
While everyone’s artistic path is different, learning basic design principles is a must. Some designers are self taught, but most pursue an education that not only covers design, but also marketing and business aspects of the field.
Most employers look for a degree like a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts), but what is most important is a strong portfolio. If they’re not going to a traditional 9-5, a lot of designers will find work as freelance contractors.
Comment below and share what kind of careers in art you’d like to know more about!
Our goal is to make this into a mini-series that you (or, even your class) can vote in on. We want to celebrate living artists and all the incredible niche careers available to your young creators.
It’s important to remember the impact you’ll have on your students for years to come – the conversations you have with them will really help shape what kind of path they take in life.
Written by Hannah Barbaria – Community Manager & Creative Connector
I love, love, LOVE this!!! I spent 9 years as a graphic designer before becoming an art teacher. An excellent career choice and one that I cannot wait to introduce to my middle schoolers in January! This helps me so much as a new teacher, thank y’all for everything y’all do!!!
I love this! Art careers are very important
Please, please, please provide more art careers! My state has standards about it and would love more resources! Thank you!
The mini career design series with graphic designer Alexis was awesome! I love this! Great idea and I will add a career segment similar to this to my art class now. This also touched my heart because I’m a graphic design major as well. Thank you for the additional graphic design materials too. It is great to be able show your students that there many careers in the world of art. A new suggestion to add to your library of careers could be “art therapist.” Thank you Deep Sparkle!
This is a great resource idea!! Kudos!!!
So timely! I just had a grade 6 student ask me what good art was for their future. Now I have a real good answer for her!
custom paint jobs on motorcycles and cars (air brush)
Museum jobs like curator, education specialists, all the behind the scene jobs
party hosts (paint parties and event educators)
The list above was just a stream of consciousness list I created to just now to generate a list of Ideas that Middle Schoolers or upper elementary may want to learn more about. I think it’s great to create a mini unit or whatever on careers because in many of the state standards their is an area on careers that has to be covered. Wonderful lessons and visuals. Maintaining a certain finished look has always been important to me when distributing hand outs to my students so thank you for making these available to us for use in our classrooms (in person and Virtual). Thanks:)
I was a cake decorator before I changed careers. I always say it is the edible art.
Thank you so much for this!!! I am a Graphic Designer that recently left that job to become an Elementary Art Teacher. I tell my kids often that becoming a Graphic Designer is an awesome career! Especially if they want to showcase their creativity. Thank you again!! I will for sure have my kids do the project that went along with this!! 🖤
Good idea. Students are asking about how to be an animator, product designer (especially packaging for candy) and Disney Imagineer
hi, i have a question. can i go to college to learn about graphic design but never had any experience?
Oh My Gosh! How did I miss this last year!
Hi Alexis! I am so happy to hear you enjoyed our time together and that I provided a positive and relevant environment for you to explore artists, art materials, and your own creativity and artistic voice! I was not surprised you pursued a career in the arts as you are very talented and conscientious, which I could see even in elementary school! You had a quiet confidence that was shining through as you worked, which I imagine is still the case. Patty and the rest of the Deep Space Sparkle team are lucky to have you!
It was always a pleasure to have you in my classroom! Thank you for the kind shoutout, it really means a lot! Also, if you are ever back ‘home’ when school is in session stop in to see me – I would love to chat!
By the way, I am loving the work you are doing. The lessons and handouts are awesome! Not only do I like them as a teacher, but more importantly the students really seem to like them. The clear directions and great graphics are a win! Keep up the great work Alexis and the rest of team sparkle!