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Ariana Villegas studied at Shillington New York
Prior to working as a designer, you worked in fashion sales. Tell us about your path to what you’re doing now.
My background was in a completely different field. I was working in wholesale sales for fashion brands creating business reports and working with vendors and buyers from the largest department stores in the US (Saks, Bergdorf Goodman and such) for 5 years. I decided to leave that career path because I’ve loved design all my life and wanted to pursue this true passion. I took a huge risk and left that comfortable path to go through this intensive graphic design program. Less than 2 months after that program, I got a job with a tech start-up as a designer both for product & branding which was surreal. I also received recognitions from GDUSA and AGDA for graphic design during that timeline. It was unbelievable how my life completely changed in less than 6 months all thanks to Shillington!
What advice can you offer to someone who wants to transition careers?
Go for it! I know it can be scary and unnerving to risk it all, especially if all you’ve known your whole life is this current career that you have. It took me years before I acknowledged that I wanted to do design and mustered up the courage to actually do something about it. My advice is if you’re constantly thinking about transitioning to this creative career and if you absolutely love design, just go for it! Prepare for the months to come, budget and all. Make a plan. Do everything you can to make it happen. If this is really what you want to do and you’re willing to work hard for it, I think it will work out. I never looked back.
Did you have any previous design experience? How did the course build your skillset?
My degree was in Business Management. After that, I did a quick fashion design summer program at Parsons when I first moved to New York but it wasn’t really that related to what I learned for graphic design. I do a lot of photography as a hobby which I think is the thing prior to Shillington that I recognize as a previous “design” experience. There are some things in photography like composition that are related to graphic design. The course built on this skillset further by training my eye to recognize good composition and good design.
What made you choose the full-time vs the part-time course?
I did the full-time course because I wanted the full immersion with the program and the teachers. I wanted to get that similar grind when you’re actually working as a designer with an agency or in-house and that was how the full-time program kind of went. It was super fast-paced and an intense daily practice which I thought were perfect training for the real world. I also knew that this is what I wanted so I just went for it all the way.
What was your biggest challenge during the course?
Portfolio week was my biggest challenge during the course. It was the most exciting and the hardest part of the course. I learned so much about myself during portfolio week. I was surprised that I could function with 3-4 hours of sleep for 3 weeks.