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Hear straight from our graduates.

The fact that I could walk away in 3 months with comprehensive skills and be competitive with other designers who had 4 year degrees was the icing on the cake.

Graphic Designer, Amazon Books

Kelly Hansen

Why Shillington?

I had just graduated high school the summer before I left for Australia so mainly odd jobs such as a classroom assistant at a local preschool and in-store associate for a pool company. Very, very, groundbreaking work that was difficult to walk away from.

Initially I wanted to be a counselor but I realized I’m far too emotional to be any sort of help. While deciding what to do moving forward I asked some friends if I should consider going to school to become a designer and in short their response was: “Duh.”  To them it was  “abnormal” to comment on type, layout and have general design commentary running through their mind every time they set foot outdoors or scrolled through the internet. I thought that was something everyone did but apparently it was just me! With that in mind, I took my time researching courses and trying to find one that suited me. I came across Shillington and was all in. The caliber of work that students were releasing in portfolio, the thought and effort that was apparent in both Shillington’s approach to design education as well as how that translated into teaching future designers was unlike anything I was seeing from other school’s. The fact that I could walk away in 3 months with comprehensive skills and be competitive with other designers who had 4 year degrees was the icing on the cake.

After Shillington you worked at the Seattle Symphony, Sotheby’s and now Amazon. How did you find the job hunt? Were you confident with your Shillington portfolio?

I think the beauty of design is the freedom you have to grow, in fact the nature of the work is that you’ll always be developing yourself and learning new skills and trends. With that freedom I never really felt anything but full confidence with my portfolio. I felt strongly that Shillington had done an incredible job of giving me the tactical, foundational skills to succeed and my portfolio reflected that. Knowing that, the challenge in the job hunt was finding the right fit for my work style. I loved my job at the Symphony and there I found that I really found my passion, which is print. Although I didn’t enjoy the nature of the work at Sotheby’s, I enjoyed developing processes and I learned about the importance of organization in design  and managing expectations. Amazon and the department I work in, Books, is allowing me to be apart of something really incredible as we take Amazon’s 20 plus years of E-Commerce excellency and translate that into the reinvention of the physical retail landscape. It’s challenging, but I’m learning from some of the smartest innovators in retail and it’s the perfect mix of everything I love: design, smart marketing, focused strategy and data. I feel like I’m coming home when I come to work, which isn’t something everyone can say about their job. 

What do you love about working as a graphic designer?

That you are ever changing and that your work is malleable. Every day looks different and sometimes messages across different mediums look different and I get to evolve alongside of my work. It also excites me that you’re likely the first touch point for the customer. You have this special opportunity to leverage the message and connect with someone. That moment is brief, but it’s important and you need to be smart about it. I think people see designers as people who create pretty things and have comfy jobs, but it’s so much bigger then that. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

This is getting long winded, but don’t be afraid to discover who you are as a designer. I remember feeling really passionately that I was bound to be a studio designer and would get really discouraged if I didn’t get a studio job or felt I didn’t have a “studio” portfolio. I discovered I wasn’t a studio designer but rather a more corporate one; I love customer journey, strategy, data, numbers, etc. That, for me, looked way different then the studio experience and it was okay. 

Kelly moved from America to Australia to study design abroad at Shillington. Visit Kelly’s website.

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