Competition for eyeballs exists at every turn. Might be a clever billboard or a colorful bus wrap. Could be a catchy logo or the symmetry of a beloved sports team’s apparel. Whatever the visual element, inspiration is spawned at the crossroads of a graphic designer’s creativity and a consumer’s captivity.
Andrew Davis prepares emerging designers for careers. Davis, 41, of Chickasha, began teaching graphic design five years ago at Canadian Valley Technology Center. He left behind a job as a marketing director in Oklahoma City and dispatched with a 40-mintue daily commute each way.
His focus now is squarely on investing locally in human resources, one student at a time. The program is one of more than a dozen full-time career prep options for high school juniors, seniors and adults.
“Each student’s story is unique, and each comes in with a set of skills and previous exposure to design,” Davis said. “It’s really exciting to see when the light bulb comes on, and suddenly a student can see all the details that separate a professional from an amateur.”
At the point in which students realize their work contributes to something worthwhile, buy-in occurs, Davis said.
Students who enroll in CV Tech’s graphic design program usually work independently to complete design assignments. They become skilled in the use of industry-recognized software, such as Adobe Creative Suite applications Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign.
Ultimately, each student produces a portfolio for college and employment that exhibits each person’s unique designs.
Davis challenges students early with a significant design project. Each must determine how best to market a start-up business from the ground-up by designing a logo and marketing items, such as business cards, letterhead and envelopes. Students must also design advertising, using social media ads, billboards and printed flyers. They must also write about their creative process.
The results of challenging students has paid off with awards, particularly statewide student design contests. Lane Meeks won a poster design contest presented by Oklahoma Energy Resources Board. Breanna Gray and Savannah Threadgill both won statewide T-shirt design contests for the benefit of the National Technical Honor Society.
“It’s nice to see the standards you hold your students being valued by others,” Davis said.
Students who get jobs as full-time graphic designers have an average starting salary of about $33,000, and median pay tops out above $50,000, according to information supplied by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A modest 3 percent growth is expected in the industry over the next eight years.
About a third of CV Tech graduates opt for furthering their design education in college, typically choosing to study graphic design, business or marketing. Many others go from the classroom directly into the workforce as designers. Some specialize as print shop designers, production designers or user interface (app) designers, Davis said.
Recent graduate Riley Hennigh started working for Traction Marketing in Oklahoma City as an illustrator. He now works as a senior user interface designer at Adctera, an award-winning strategic advertising and marketing firm in Houston.
For more information about graphic design, please call (405) 224-7220 and ask to speak to a counselor.