Informational Interview with Amy Sideon

A DVD cover that Amy designed while working as a graphic designer.

For this assignment I interviewed Amy Sideon, a friend of a friend’s that worked in graphic design for 20 years. She now works as a claims adjuster. The first question I asked was why she chose Graphic Design as a career path. She responded “I was enrolled in an architecture program at La Tech [Louisiana Tech] University and took some Photoshop classes. They were interesting to me, so I expanded into Illustrator. I changed my degree when I moved to Oregon and complete my bachelors in Art, with a graphic design emphasis.” She said the most fun and informational class she took in college was an Illustrator class, because she enjoyed manipulating images to create digital art.

When I asked Amy what advice she would give a new Media Arts student, she replied “Take a wide variety of classes, give yourself the largest pallet of tools possible. The more knowledge you have in many different areas, the more hirable you become.” She really emphasized being as “well rounded as possible”. She also mentioned needing to have good time management and organizational skills, as well as always improving grammar and writing skills.

Amy designed this catalog cover for the Engineering Education Service Center

Amy worked as a landscape laborer while in school to pay for her degree. A few months after graduating from college at the University of Oregon with a bachelor’s degree in Art, she got a job at SafetyCal, a company that produces safety stickers and signs. After that, she did both freelancing and was employed at various design companies. When I asked her if finding a job in the graphic design field was difficult, she said “I was lucky in that I applied to a random employment agency that happened to know a friend who needed an artist.” She said she enjoyed freelancing because she could set her own schedule, but said that the hardest part about it was getting jobs, “There is a LOT of competition out there. This competition drives down the amount of money you can ask for when doing work.” Amy also emphasized that customer contact could be difficult and “can lead to non-payment if you don’t have a contract in place!” She said that freelancing has never been her primary source of income. When asked, she said that her most successful form of advertising herself has been word of mouth.

My takeaway from this interview (and also from the speakers that we have had in class) is that Graphic Design can be fun and interesting, as well as fast-paced and competitive. It seems like many of the people that I meet that work in the design field (as well as instructors) say much of the same and give a lot of the same advice. I guess this shows that it is all relevant. I have always wanted to primarily freelance with my photography and design, but most of the people that I’ve talked to that freelance, also have regular jobs on the side. I guess it does make sense to have a regular stream of income in case the economy tanks and it becomes harder to find clients. I still want to start my own business and freelance with my skills, but I’m figuring out that I will likely have to work for a company as well, at least in the beginning stages of my business.