Christina Capetola has always been a creative person and discovered her love for colors, illustration and branding while studying at Shillington in New York. Read on to hear about her decision to shift careers from marketing to graphic design, her scholarship submission and how the course gave her the skills and confidence needed to land a job at Wayfair.
What was your scholarship entry? Tell us about your submission and how you showed your passion for design.
I designed a website showcasing my creativity and expressed why I should win the scholarship. I wanted to do something out of the box to show my passion for design and I had created a few websites before on Wix. Studying graphic design was my dream and I think that really showed in the website I created. I have always been a creative person whether it was through painting, jewelry-making or photography and I made sure to display that.
Can you share your tips for candidates applying for a scholarship?
Stay true to yourself! If you are truly passionate about studying at Shillington, your genuine interest will shine through.
Be creative as possible! It is important to stand out from the crowd and doing so is up to you.
How was our design course different from the rest of the schools you were interested in?
I had a full-time job before Shillington so I liked the fact that it was a three-month program and that I wouldn’t have to take too much time off from work. I knew quitting my job and attending Shillington was going to be a huge risk but it was one I was willing to take because I was so passionate about design and wanted to get into the field as soon as possible. I read the graduate testimonials and related to so many of the students.
I was also so impressed with the work that came out of the program in such a short period of time.
Did you have any previous design experience? How did the course build your skill set?
Everything that I knew about design before Shillington, I had taught myself. I would watch YouTube Photoshop tutorials but I knew I needed more training in order to attain the design job I fantasized about. I was in marketing before Shillington, so I worked with a few designers and I thought to myself, “I could design that but make it even better.” From the first day of the course, I knew I had made the right decision. It was very well structured and I realized there was so much more to design than I had thought. The course definitely has the formula down pat.
You’re a very creative person! While studying at Shillington you developed a love for color, illustration and branding. Were you able to develop your skills in these areas while studying in the course?
I had never touched Illustrator before the course and developed a love for illustration. Branding was something that really interested me because it is a perfect combination of my marketing skills that I had gained at my last job and the design skills I gained at Shillington. I felt like my portfolio really stood out from others because creative directors noticed the design principles that were harped on during class.
How did you find the Shillington classroom environment?
There was never a time in class where I was bored. There were definitely very challenging times but just know that if you put in the effort, it will be worth it in the end.
The way the class is set up prepares you for a working day. You may be stressed by the tight deadlines, but it makes you a lot more prepared for the real world.
What were your favourite aspects of the course?
My favorite aspect of the course was how invested you get in graphic design. I started noticing every subway ad I walked by and critiqued every magazine that got delivered. The teachers are also really devoted to the course and they push you to produce the best work possible.
Your portfolio showcases a great use of color, illustration and print design. I especially loved your Puerto Rico branding and vodka packaging! Walk us through the process of approaching your favourite student brief.
For all of my briefs, I created a target demographic and three concepts. I did a lot of mood-boarding and word-mapping to come up with concepts and inspiration. My favorite student brief was “Experience Puerto Rico” and it took me a lot of research to come up with the final design. It started with nailing down the target demographic of young families and from there, I crafted several mood boards. I researched the Puerto Rican culture, which influenced the design a lot.
Can you offer some tips to students on how they can excel in the course and was there anything you wish you knew just starting out?
Don’t get discouraged. There may be times when you want to quit, but just remember it will be worth it in the end because you will have a kick-ass portfolio! Also, when you graduate don’t feel rushed to get a job. Wait for the right fit because it will come!
What was the biggest lesson you learnt at Shillington?
Trust the process! It is important to come up with a concept before designing.
A lot of times, I just wanted to jump right into designing, but trust me, my best projects were the ones that had a strong concept behind them.
Do you think the skills you learned during the course prepared you for the design industry?
I felt prepared coming out of Shillington and felt like my portfolio was stronger than people who had gotten undergraduate degrees in graphic design. Another thing that I learned is it is okay to not know everything about the programs as soon as you graduate. When you get a design job, you will continue to learn a tremendous amount in the first couple of weeks. Portfolio week also prepared me for stressful days in the design industry.
You have a professional background in marketing. How has that helped you in approaching design projects?
My background in marketing has helped tremendously when I’m designing.
I also feel like it made me stand out in interviews because a lot of times the marketing and design teams work very closely together. My background in marketing especially helps because I think about what customers are looking for and what will attract them most before I start designing. In my portfolio, I specifically highlighted the branding projects because I knew I wanted to work for a brand where I could combine my marketing and design skills.
You recently started an associate graphic designer position at Wayfair. What does a typical day at the office look like and are there any interesting projects you are working on?
I specifically work on the Birch Lane team, which is one of Wayfair’s brands. Birch Lane has a very specific, timeless style. I work on all of the promotional assets for the website and email, which is exciting because I get to create something new every day!
A day in the Shillington classroom is actually quite similar to a typical day at Wayfair.
First, we start by brainstorming concepts and creating mood boards. It is a very collaborative environment so we are constantly getting feedback and learning from each other. We often have critiques as well, which is a good time to get feedback and it is always exciting seeing what all of the other amazing designers are working on.
Where do you find inspiration?
Of course, I am a huge Pinterest fan, but I find inspiration everywhere. Anywhere from traveling to painting. My favorite sites are visuelle, and designspiraration. But, most importantly, from the designers around me!
Big thanks to Christina for sharing her Shillington story! Stay up to date on her design projects by checking her website for more work.
Do you want to study at Shillington? Scholarship announcements happening late June 2018. Stay tuned! For more inspiration, check out interviews with Shillington Melbourne scholarship winner Arnold Omanyo and Shillington Manchester scholarship winner Uzma Padia.