ISO Graphic Design Mentor

Hello- I feel embarrassing writing this at 31 but…

I am a Graphic Designer based in NJ (but next to NYC). Due to COVID I was laid off.
I worked at a small local company independently doing all design since college. Because of that, I haven’t grown or expanded my skills much and sort of back at square 1.

I think? my strong suit is in print- logos, brand identities, collateral, advertisements, etc but I have some web and social media experience. Coding is not my strong suit but I am able to do basic things.

I am in need of guidance regarding my resume, portfolio, general critiques, someone to bounce ideas off of and overall a navigator to steer me in the right direction for future jobs.

I’m happy to pay for this service. I assume the price will be based on the persons skill level and involvement.

My email is kaylacolby2 at gmail if anyone is interested.

Either way- appreciate you taking the time to read this and wish me luck lol

I doubt you’ll find any professional designers to mentor you, and if you did, their advice would only reflect that one person’s opinions and knowledge.

You might consider posting things here in the Crit Pit section of the forum. That way, you’ll get a variety of responses from a variety of designers. That’s largely the reason this forum exists.

I’ve been fortunate to have had two design mentors in my life. Both of them made immense impacts; so I would commend you in your search for a mentor. In my case, the mentor / mentee relationship faded out as each of them retired, but we still exchange Christmas cards and talk occasionally.

One of the relationships went well into my 30s, if not my 40s, so I don’t think you need to be embarrassed about seeking a mentor at 31.

For me, I was introduced to each of the mentors. I never asked them to be my mentor, the relationship just evolved in that direction. I could run design ideas by them or just chat about business or the industry.

I suppose the question is how do you find a mentor? One option would be your previous place of employment. Is there anyone there that would be in a good place to act as a mentor? I wouldn’t necessarily call them and ask them to be your mentor, but it wouldn’t hurt to call and say, “Can I buy you a cup of coffee some morning, I’d like to bounce some ideas off of you?” If not from your old job, is there a graphic design Meetup group in your area? You might meet someone that way. If you’re next to NYC, I have to believe there are some professional groups that you could get involved with to meet someone who could act as a mentor (AIGA, art director’s club, etc.).

If none of that works, you could consider more of a peer group / mastermind situation than a mentor / mentee relationship. I am in a mastermind group and find it valuable.

Good luck.

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One more thought that wasn’t necessarily straight forward in my previous post. From my personal experience at least, this type of relationship takes time to evolve. There is no rule saying you can’t ask someone to be a mentor. My hunch is that you might not get the best response with this. Not too many people are looking for ways to fill up all of the free time that everyone has on their hands these days. But, filter out those with egos, I think most people in this business are pretty down-to-earth and like helping others. So give it time for a relationship to develop.

Before you even start looking for a teacher/mentor, you must decide on what you really want to learn, what you want to specialize in,

For example, designing logos, ads and websites requires three different skillsets and toolsets.

In my opinion it’s better to be a specialist than a jack of all trades, who spereads themselves thin trying to be good at many different things, like vector graphics, photo editing, website coding and video editing.

Thanks for the response Steve! I unfortunately was the ONLY designer at my old company for 8 years so no one to reach out to there. Do you have experience in AIGA, Art Directors Club? What is a mastermind group? Thanks again for your input!

I agree Jakub! I’m heavily leaning on print, advertising, collateral and branding. Any chance you have a group you suggest?

No, unfortunately not.

To an extent that is the case, from a practical, use of tools, perspective. However, that which differentiates an adequate designer from a good one, applies to all three of the disciplines you mention, plus all others.

Ideas and an ability to communicate an intended message to an intended audience are key to being good at what you do. This applies to all areas of design. One would assume it would be a prerequisite to being a designer. Sadly, that is increasingly not the case these days, certainly with bottom- and filter-feeders. It will always be necessary if you want to play with the big kids.

Am with @Steve_O, if you want to find someone to help mentor you I think you should approach someone you admire locally - I would turn up at their office and literally just say what you said here.

Initially, I think they’ll be a bit suprised because it’s a bit unconventional and unexpected, but if you show up and are prepared to offer them some value (or free coffee or :beer: or :moneybag:) in return for their time, they may be open to it.

If that’s a bit too brazen for you and there’s no way you could bring yourself to leave your comfort zone to do it, I would seek the opinions and advice you’re after from people here.

Hope this helps :beers:

Better still to be a jack of all trades and master them all. One skill, however lucrative, will soon be obsolete and then you’re out of work.
Plus, in this game skills are interconnected and insight into one skill will help you be better at another. To be a good designer you have to know how printing works, for UI you need to know how websites work, for logo design some understanding of psychology, etc.

I’ve attended some local events, but I am not a member of any trade groups.

Search mastermind on your favorite search engine or YT. There is a lot of information out there. You might have to read a couple of articles or watch a few videos to get a vision or see how a mastermind group could work for you.

I only partially agree. Specialization can be good but only after developing a broad set of skills that form a solid foundation on which to build the specialization.

For example, an auto repair shop might specialize it brakes and exhaust systems, but they would still need a broad knowledge of general automobile repair to handle the problems encountered in their particular specialty.

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