Alumni Update: Interview with Austin Harrod
Austin is currently the Lead Graphic Designer and Photographer at David Benrimon Fine Art. Check out his photography at www.harrod.photography
What year did you graduate and what is your official job title / employer?
2014, Currently the Lead Graphic Designer and Photographer at David Benrimon Fine Art.
Why did you choose BGSU to study design?
BGSU is renowned for their graphic design program, so I’d wanted to attend ever since I found out graphic design was what I wanted to pursue as a career. I really appreciated how the professors went above and beyond to take us on tours of design studios, allowed us to work with renowned designers on projects and assisted us in creating a physical portfolio to present in interviews (which is something that I’ve found is so incredible to have to help you stand out among others!).
Is this your first job post-graduation?
It isn’t actually! I obtained my first job at another local college soon after graduating through traditional job searching. From there I began to look elsewhere and received a job offer at a large real estate firm in New York, which I worked at for a year before switching to my current job at the art gallery.
How was the transition from school in Bowling Green to living in NYC?
My dream growing up had always been wanting to live in a big city. While at Bowling Green, I was always set on Chicago as that had always seemed the most feasible. When I received a job offer in NYC, I didn’t know what to expect! After visiting for my initial in-person interview in the city, I fell in love with it and the transition was incredibly smooth! It’s a whole different world, but the amount of experiences and opportunities I’ve had since moving here is something I wouldn’t trade for anything!
What are your favorite pastimes in New York?
So many things! I’ve been a photographer most of my life, so I’ve transitioned from being a nature photographer back when I was in Ohio to becoming a street photographer, which was such an insane and fun development (no pun intended). My first few months here consisted of walking every street in Manhattan photographing as much as possible, it was an incredible way to get to know the city.
I’m also a big foodie so trying a new restaurant is a must every weekend! I think my Google Maps “saved locations” list could be converted into a travel/food guide at this point. My favorite thing to do here is just explore as much as possible, and that’s still how I feel after almost five years here!
What does a typical workday look like for you?
Every day can be different, which I particularly enjoy. One day I’ll be designing catalogs and invitations for an upcoming Andy Warhol exhibition. Another day I’ll fly states over to meet with a client to photograph their home for artwork mockups. The next day I’m sitting in an art booth for an upcoming art fair eating pizza with Adrien Brody discussing which of his artworks he wants to display in our booth. All of this happened within a week during my first month on the job and it’s essentially been that busy on a daily basis ever since!
Do you have a specific visual language within your work?
I’d like to think so, but with different artists and art fairs (and dozens of revisions changing your design work to appeal to what the office wants), it can be tough at times to have a consistent theme in my portfolio. I will say that my work has overall become a lot cleaner and simpler. I used to think that it was essential for my work to be flashy and over designed to appeal to the client, which isn’t always the case. Over the years you learn what works and flows best to become an efficient and dependable designer.
What’s your favorite aspect of the design process?
Refining my designs for a project and getting that “lightbulb” idea is one of the most satisfying aspects for me. When it clicks and your idea finally comes together, it’s so exciting to create a design that you’re eager to share with the client.
Does working in NYC feel more competitive or challenging to you?
It definitely can, but I think that’s what has helped me push myself to be a better designer. It’s not for everyone, but I think if you challenge yourself in this city, there are so many amazing opportunities you can take advantage of living here.
What advice would you give for students currently in the program?
- Rarely is your first design the best iteration you’ll create for a job or project. Always be willing to revisit ideas and challenge yourself, no matter how happy you are with a design!
- Always, always, always be receptive to critique! It may seem disheartening to hear criticism of your work, but it’s so important to hear from others about what you can improve on!
- Be willing to explore skill sets you’re not comfortable with. Skills outside of the traditional design skill set are vital to getting noticed in the job field and can be incredibly helpful for making your transition into a job easier.
- Always keep your portfolio book up to date and looking awesome! It’s what gave me an advantage in interviews for every job I’ve had since graduating
Interviewed by Kaitlyn DiBiase