Erin Kishoni was recently named Emerging Designer of the Year in the International Design Awards competition. Erin is a Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) graduate, BFA, graphic design, 2019, and she shares some thoughts on her education and the future of the profession with GDUSA.
Tell us a little more about your SCAD Story – how did you get there, what did you study, etc.
I ended up at SCAD in a little bit of a round-about way. I grew up playing ice hockey in Duluth GA, and knew that if I wanted to continue to play through college, that meant moving North. I ended up at a boarding school called Northwood in Lake Placid NY. At Northwood, I continued to play hockey, and also fell in love with the beautiful Adirondack landscape, gaining a whole new appreciation for nature. In Lake Placid, I was drawn to environmental science because of my desire to preserve this beautiful place.
After graduating from Northwood, I continued my education and hockey career at Elmira College, where I majored in Environmental Science. Half-way through freshman year, Elmira announced that Environmental Science was no longer a major that they would be offering. I, along with the other Environmental Science majors were put onto the Bio-Chem track, which was not my calling to say the least.
The one thing I truly excelled at in my Biology and Chemistry labs was observational drawing in my lab notebook. I realized I was putting more time and effort into these drawings than anything else, because I really enjoyed it. I thought back to how much I had always loved art throughout my life, but I never considered it a stable career path. I started to do more research and was pleasantly surprised to find that I was wrong in my assumptions regarding a career in art.
On winter break from Elmira, I visited SCAD Atlanta, which was just 30 minutes from my home in Duluth. I followed my heart and ended up transferring to SCAD during my junior year. I chose to apply for the Graphic Design program because I felt it fit my skills and interests best of all the majors offered at the school.
How did SCAD prepare you to be a graphic designer in the professional world?
The professors truly care and push you to be a better designer every day they have you in class. The curriculum was never easy, and I’m glad it wasn’t, because it really sets students up for success out in the real world. I have to point out one professor in particular, Peter Wong. Peter makes his mark on every student that comes through the SCAD Atlanta GRDS program. He cares about the future of each and every student, and doesn’t accept mediocre work because he sees the true potential that each student has. I graduated from SCAD with a shiny, new portfolio that I was ready to show the world, and that is a huge accomplishment in and of itself. I also loved how we were always being pushed to talk about our work, and the process of creating it, which is a vital skill that is often overlooked and is one that is expected when you’re a designer out in the real world.
What was the project you submitted for the International Design Awards?
I submitted my project “Mother Shrub”. It was a rebranding project that I did for one of my major curriculum classes. We did two rebranding projects in this class: one for a major company, and one for a smaller business. Mother Shrub is a small company that makes drinking vinegars or “shrubs,” that can be mixed into cocktails or sodas, or even used to cook with. I actually saw their packaging in a coffee shop near my house and thought about how I could make their product stand out on the shelves. The brand had a hand-drawn style to it that I knew I could elevate, while still keeping in line with the overall feel of the brand.
What are your thoughts on being a young designer in 2020?
This is a great time to be entering the design industry. Almost everything we come in contact with these days is curated and designed. This means there is more opportunity than ever to work in the design industry, and there are endless avenues of how and what you can design.
Where do you see the graphic design industry going? Where would you like it to go?
The design industry is ever-changing and it is impossible to truly predict what the future will hold, but I definitely see a rise in designers working for themselves. With powerful platforms like Instagram, Behance, and Dribbble to share design work, individual designers are able to create a name for themselves in the design world. This also applies to smaller, boutique design and ad agencies being able to build from the ground-up faster than ever. I love to see people being able to make a living from their own, unique passion, and we largely have social platforms to thank.
What do student designers need to consider as they look to their future?
The most important thing is to never be satisfied. There will be new technology, platforms, and programs emerging all the time and it’s important to not get complacent with what you already know – always be a student of design, even after you graduate. Outside of your classes, it helps to look at current events and trends in design, as well as looking back into the past at the roots of design for inspiration.