Alumni Update: Interview with Paige Apkarian
Assistant Director of Creative Services for Fighting Illini Athletics at the University of Illinois Urbana – Champaign
What year did you graduate and what is your official job title / employer?
I graduated in May of 2018. My official job title is Assistant Director of Creative Services for Fighting Illini Athletics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
What advice would you give students currently in the program?
1. Keep pushing. This program isn’t easy and will test you at times, but stay positive, work hard and use your resources (professors, technology, other art students, etc). The art building is so valuable.
2. Don’t overthink it. Stay true to your vision and style and go after the things that excite you. Your work will reflect that passion.
3. Get good at critiquing work (your own and others.) Being able to express ideas, why something is or isn’t working and how to communicate ideas is really important.
4. Don’t take things TOO seriously. Have fun, you’re in art school. It’s the best.
Why did you choose BGSU to study?
I chose BGSU because my two art teachers in high school went to BGSU and I really valued their work, mentorship and suggestions. Once I visited, I loved the culture of the art building and could see the various opportunities I would have if I attended this University. I distinctly remember creating pictograms in the dark room and watching the photos develop, and I was hooked. I made an agreement with my parents that I could transfer out of state after two years, but I fell in love with the campus, people and my classes and couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.
Any recommendations for designers entering the workforce?
Find what you are interested in and go for it. I knew that I wanted to work in the sports industry, so I sought after those jobs and internships and applied to the ones that fit my needs and goals. If you find that amazing job, apply! Even if you don’t think you’re good enough or have enough experience, go for it. You’ll gain so much experience preparing a resume and interviewing and that confidence will grow over time. Research the team/agency/business that you are applying to and the people who work there. Stay positive, even when a rejection email rolls in. Once you get that job, OWN IT! They hired you for a reason, so create your unique work, ask questions and express your ideas. Also, cover letters are not dead. ALWAYS write a cover letter. :)
Knowing what you know today, what do you wish you knew a few years ago?
I wish I could tell myself that relaxing and taking a step back is just as valuable as the hustle. It’s important to have a good work ethic, create meaningful work and meet deadlines. But it’s also important to sleep, take time for yourself and spend time outside of designing. The badass-workaholic-i’ve had five ventis from Starbucks mentality isn’t sustainable.
Is being a designer everything you thought it would be?
Since graduating, I’ve moved to two different states. Worked in one of the most historic places in athletics, with the craziest/best fans. Seen one of the greatest upsets. Created my own branding/ art direction. Conducted a photoshoot. Met some awesome people and created some work that i’m really proud of. So as long as that keeps coming, then absolutely.