My Design Journey (So far...)

High School

When I was signing up for my Sophomore classes, I was already taking a few advanced classes in Math, Science, and English, as well as making it my goal to play in my High School's string orchestra for all four years. So when I saw that I still had room for another kind of elective class, I was super excited - because I was always willing and ready to learn something new. Reading through what was offered, I was intrigued by the Graphic Design and Digital Art classes that were available - they were the perfect fit for both my love of art and technology.

Graphic Design (2012)

My first semester as a Sophomore, I took Graphic Design which was an introduction to logo design and brand identity, as well as the basics of using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. This is when I really learned the importance of doing lots and lots of preliminary sketches before you start your work on the computer. I enjoyed this class a lot and I seemed to catch on to using the programs quite quickly.

Some of my earliest logo design work

Digital Art (2012)

Digital Art was the class that I took in my second semester as a Sophomore, and opposed to Graphic Design, this class focused on the more "fine art" side of digital, visual art. So for me, there was a lot of experimenting with filters, effects, and image manipulation. I enjoyed this class just as much as the first, and the end of that school year only left me craving more.

Hunger Games poster set
Hip-hop desktop wallpaper
Original album design
1st Place Black History Month Poster contest winner

Media Technology (2013)

As a Junior, I was happy to have found another class that was a bit similar to the previous design classes that I had taken. In Media Tech, we learned a little bit of everything - digital imaging, film, and Flash animation.

Magazine-style binder cover
Black History Month Poster contestant

Graphic Design - Student Art Portfolio (2014)

My last year in high school, I had the opportunity to take Graphic Design a second time, but this time with an emphasis on choosing some more personal projects and with the intent of creating a small portfolio of work throughout the school year. By this time I felt more comfortable with composition, utilizing different fonts in my work and with using Photoshop - I still struggled a bit with Illustrator at the time. By participating in the A+ Program at my school throughout my years in high school, I was already anticipating using my scholarship to attend my local community college to earn a degree in Graphic Design - it was true love.

School district rebrand
2014 Prom Tickets for FZNHS
My graduation party invitation


Digital Art Studio (Spring 2015)

I had an amazing instructor the semester that I took Digital Art Studio, and I will always be grateful that I was able to learn so much from him. It was by far the largest design class I have taken up to this day - with almost 20 students. His goal for the class was to have each of us have one large semester-long project with three to four smaller projects in between. Our large project was to rebrand a company. Because I wanted to do something fun and playful, and I was dying to experiment with the Japanese chibi art style that I had been obsessing over I chose to rebrand the froyo franchise Orange Leaf - in addition to creating some new Japanese-inspired froyo flavors. It was a great project because I got to utilize skills that I had already learned in high school, as well as develop new ones. This class proved most helpful in helping me to get more familiar with using Adobe Illustrator and the cool things that I could create with vectors.

Digital Imaging & Illustration (Fall 2015)

In Digital Imaging, we were assigned one project that I had seen before but never had made myself - creating geometric images with vectors. Little did I know that I would spend almost 3/4 of the semester on that! (I did do some smaller projects in between, but that portrait became my biggest obsession.) But I had a vision that I wanted to make just right. I chose one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Melanie Martinez, as the subject and I really wanted every segment of her face to be divided into triangle shapes only. Within each triangle, I filled in a two shade gradient color-picked from the original image. I loved this technique, because the finishing image would look pretty normal from a distance, but up close or blown up you can see all of the individual pieces of color that make up the image.

Poster created from my geometric portrait design
Stargirl movie poster

Typography (Fall 2015)

I mostly loved learning about the anatomy of type and the different varieties that are available to me as a designer. While it was not immediately a favorite class for me, I did enjoy what I learned - especially as I experimented more in Photoshop with creating cool effects and textures with type.

Hand-drawn typography
Type specimen poster
Phil Collins

Page Layout (Fall 2016)

I have just finished up my second-to-last semester in community college, and I really loved taking Page Layout. But I have to be honest, I enjoyed the branding part of it way more than the actual "page layout" as far as the idea of mapping out something like a magazine, or something. I am still not a fan of Adobe InDesign at the moment, but hopefully in the future I will get more used to navigating and using it more often. My only complaint would be that I felt so rushed with creating these projects, just because I previously had a class in which we basically did the same thing but with the entire semester on our side. (I guess I had been a bit spoiled.) But I know that this is how things work in the real Graphic Design industry, so I had to quickly suck it up and make some great stuff. Overall, I am pretty pleased with most of my work, though I know with a little more time they each could be even better in concept and presentation.

Style Guides
Mokabe's Coffeehouse Brand Guide
Rack & Clutch Brand Guide

Future Work

As I approach my final semester in community college, I have a lot to think about when it comes to applying for jobs and figuring what exactly I want to do with all that I have learned. In addition to graphic design specific classes, I have experience in illustration, digital photography, and film production. Next semester I will be taking Illustration II, Motion Graphics, a final portfolio class, as well participating in the Graphic Design Internship offered with my campus' Marketing Department. I really look forward to ending my time here in community college with lots of experience and a strong portfolio.

I have been thinking about applying for a summer internship offered through the Hallmark headquarters located in Kansas City, MO for next year. I also know that there are quite a few design studios located in St. Louis that I would like to visit and check out.

I have learned a lot about myself as an artist and as a designer, especially about my tastes and my style. So, I am also taking interest in possibly doing work for companies in the beauty and makeup industry. But my ultimate dream would to be able to work as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. I don't feel like I could ever choose to specialize in just one creative direction for the rest of my life, and I really want the freedom to continue learning and experimenting on my own with both digital and traditional mediums and being able to have work doing what I love most - using my creativity and skills.

Created By
Yvette Shanks


All images created by Yvette Shanks (YMS Creations)

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