Writing a Personal Mission Statement

As your formal education comes to a close (and I stress formal because learning is a life-long process), it is important to take some time and think about what it is you want out of your future career as a creative professional. Writing a professional mission statement is as important, and albeit difficult, as creating a logo for yourself. There are a number of ways to discover what you want to accomplish as a designer. It may change five years from now or by next week — and that's ok. Having a place to start focusing on who you want to be, what you want to do, and the experiences you want to have in the future is what your mission and goals are all about. A well-known study conducted at the Harvard Business School proves this point well:

http://www.lifemastering.com/en/harvard_school.html

A Goals to Mission Process

Think about short term goals first, and then expand as far as you'd like into the future. Try listing the following:

5 Semester Goals

4 Six-Month Goals

3 One-Year Goals

2 Five-Year Goals

1 Lifetime Goal

Remember they can change at any time, but as you read in the Harvard MBA study there is a HUGE difference between thinking about a goal and writing it down.

Once you've written your goals, pull out those most important to you over the course of the next 6-18 months. Try focusing on these to create a mission statement. Just like your goals, the mission is flexible and revisable, but it should succinctly communicate who you want to be and where you want to go, professionally speaking. If you look for examples online you'll find a barrage of wordy statements filed with buzz words and action-oriented jargon. Here are two very different examples worth reading:

AIGA, the professional association for design, is committed to advancing design as a professional craft, strategic tool and vital cultural force.

ESPN: To serve sports fans wherever sports are watched, listened to, discussed, debated, read about or played.

Create a sincere statement for yourself. Limit it to one or two sentences and focus on your professional goals in a way that is not too specific. This will help you to remember what it is you really want to focus on, and give you the freedom to interpret it in multiple ways. Memorize and recite it daily for a week — at the least, this process will challenge you to question what's next. Hopefully it provides you with a few answers as well.

Conceptual Student Self Promotions

A beautiful self promotion will grab the attention of perspective employers, but a promotion that also has a strong CONCEPT will keep them interested! The concept must be decided on first! It’s the idea behind the design and the underlying logic and reasoning that guides you in making all of the aesthetic choices: color, typography, visuals, format, etc. Every decision you make should support and fall back on your concept. A strong concept usually begins as a verbal, abstract idea – this allows for focus on the message you wish to communicate without being bound to a visual direction.  The self promotions below all have both conceptual and aesthetic beauty. They not only communicate the designers’ talents, they stand out from the crowd by showing passion and personality.


Mackenzie Cherban designed this set of laser engraved blocks to communicate her playful nature and love for tactile experiences. Each time you turn the blocks, a new message is revealed.

Mackenzie Cherban designed this set of laser engraved blocks to communicate her playful nature and love for tactile experiences. Each time you turn the blocks, a new message is revealed.


Danielle Kroll‘s self promo showcases her various pattern designs alongside examples of her work. The materials, format, typography and layout pay homage to vintage textile swatch books.

Danielle Kroll‘s self promo showcases her various pattern designs alongside examples of her work. The materials, format, typography and layout pay homage to vintage textile swatch books.


Mark Addiison chose to connect with his audience through humor. This playful set of cards showcases his illustration by way of well known circus acts using traditional design tools as their props.

Mark Addiison chose to connect with his audience through humor. This playful set of cards showcases his illustration by way of well known circus acts using traditional design tools as their props.


Corinne Gratter focused on her name (which people had been mispronouncing her entire life). She designed a set of letterpress greeting cards and sent them to potential employers along with a booklet of her work.

Corinne Gratter focused on her name (which people had been mispronouncing her entire life). She designed a set of letterpress greeting cards and sent them to potential employers along with a booklet of her work.


Laine Cherashore created a promotion to announce her birth as a professional designer. Each card contained images of her work. There's even a sonogram included with a baby holding a portfolio!

Laine Cherashore created a promotion to announce her birth as a professional designer. Each card contained images of her work. There's even a sonogram included with a baby holding a portfolio!


Hannah Browne created the poster above as a map of her life thus far, and included future projections to communicate her goals after graduation.

Hannah Browne created the poster above as a map of her life thus far, and included future projections to communicate her goals after graduation.


Lastly, I've included a self promotion created by Jessica Hische (who was just named one of the most influential designers working today by GD Magazine). She combined a playful and unique illustration style with fantastic copywriting to showcase work from her student portfolio:

Art Institute of Pittsburgh In-Progress Portfolio Review

Last week I had the pleasure of providing feedback to senior portfolio students at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. I met with six or seven aspiring designers and was impressed overall with the quality of self-authored illustration incorporated into much of their design work. One student in particular really stood out from the crowd...

 Personal Identity System, Chelsea Erdner

 Personal Identity System, Chelsea Erdner

Loud Tour Poster, Chelsea Erdner

Loud Tour Poster, Chelsea Erdner

I'm a sucker for design that provides a tactile experience, and AIP student Chelsea Erdner's thoughtful use of color, paper, texture and style throughout left me cheering for her future success!

Special thanks to AIP Graphic Design Chair Tamara Pavlock for inviting me to the class and sharing The Early Kerner with her students!

Examples of Inspiring, Thoughtful, and Visually Stimulating Design Thesis Projects

SPECIAL CONTENT POST BODY

THE CLEAR RX MEDICATION SYSTEM

The story of the ClearRx begins in the frail hands of a grandmother who misunderstood the labeling on a pill bottle and took the wrong dosage of prescription medication. That mistake made her ill and inspired her granddaughter—then a master’s candidate at the School of Visual Arts (SVA)—to ask simple, yet powerful questions about what had been taken for granted as the acceptable way to store and distribute medicine.

Deborah Adler—the granddaughter/grad student—identified several problems with existing pill bottle designs. Why were so many different styles of labels used? Why did information about the drug provider so often trump information about the drug itself? Why was the type so tiny? Why were so many factors unwittingly conspiring to increase the risks associated with taking prescribed drugs?

When Adler completed her SVA thesis in May 2002, she had arrived at a solution that changed a long-neglected form factor and fundamentally overhauled the communication design of the pill bottle. She produced a compelling prototype that offered a safer, more usable means of storing and distributing medicine.

Adler’s original Safe Rx design raised almost as many questions as it sought to answer. Would it satisfy all of the mandates laid out by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)? How would it change the workflow of the average pharmacist? Could any single company effectively deploy the design as a business solution?

Target, of course, chose to become that company, and it has been rewarded pretty handsomely. Since the ClearRx launched in 2005, Target’s pharmacy business has experienced double-digit sales increases. That return followed an investment in design—and a very thoughtful commitment to the design process.


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Willy Chan's SFWOI (Soap From Waste Oil Initiative) is a both a beautifully designed and made wooden cart and a opportunity to teach the public about the improper disposal of waste cooking oil. Used cooking oil is supposed to be collected for use as biodiesel, but a huge quantity of it just gets poured into sewers or dumped directly into our waterways. The cart is a rolling soap factory, where the user makes fine, scented soaps from the oil in public--raising awareness of waste oil's useful alter ego, and the tragedy of its improper disposal and waste.

Read and see more: Green Design Highlights from Parsons’ BFA Product Design Thesis Exhibition



PANDA LANDALanda

 

Academy of Art MFA Graphic Design candidate Yun Lin’s thesis project enlists a game-centered approach and envisions a nonprofit foundation to help rescue a treasured animal—the giant panda—from extinction in the wild.


MONYO+MOJI

by Chiharu Tanaka, Academy of Art University in San Francisco, involved designing new decorative typefaces that fused Japanese ornamentation with the Roman alphabet. The process involved researching Eastern and Western design principles, aesthetics and traditions and exploring the various ways that these two realms could interact and balance with each other. The “MONYO+MOJI” book showcases the rich variety of Japanese ornamentation and patterns with a new approach to design."


This MFA thesis project by Chiharu Tanaka, Academy of Art University in San Francisco, involved designing new decorative typefaces that fused Japanese ornamentation with the Roman alphabet. The process involved researching Eastern and Western design principles, aesthetics and traditions and exploring the various ways that these two realms could interact and balance with each other. The “MONYO+MOJI” book showcases the rich variety of Japanese ornamentation and patterns with a new approach to design.

RISD GRAPHIC DESIGN MFA THESIS SHOW