Faculty Profile: Paul Young
Spring 2013 Office Hours:
How long have you been a graphic designer?
I graduated from UIUC in 1983, so that would make it over 25 years. But even when I was in school I was already working as a designer. Actually, I did my first graphic design job in high school (even though back then I didn't know it was called graphic design).
What was your favorite design job?
I would have to say that the three years I spent as art director at The Creative Black Book in NYC was my favorite job. I got to travel all over the country advising photographers and illustrators on their portfolios and self-promotion strategies. I met a lot of creative people and really abused my expense account.
Do you have a specialty?
My wife Bonnie and I are partners in a design studio called Electric Pictures. We specialize in creating logos, icons and identity graphics. Although we've designed everything from posters to web sites, we find the process of creating logos the most challenging and the most satisfying at the same time. You can see some of our work at www.electric-pictures.com.
In your opinion, what makes a good graphic designer?
Intelligence and creativity. Intelligence allows you to solve problems. Creativity allows you to offer solutions no one else would have thought of. If you have one, you can fake the other. But if you have neither, chances are, you won't make it in this field.
do you become a great designer?
The difference between a good designer and a great designer is huge. It's easy to become a good designer: learn the design principles, utilize the creative process, study what other designers do. I can teach anyone to become a good designer if they want to learn. Good designers are in great demand. You don't have to be great to make it in this business. But to teach someone to be a great designer? Well, that's different. I don't think any teacher can make you a great designer, just as I don't think great writers can be made in the classroom. To be a great writer, you'll have to live and experience all that life has to offer. You'll need to make mistakes, to suffer, to love, to laugh, to commune with other cultures, to expand your mind. A designer is no different. To be a great designer, you must have something to say to the world. I can teach you how to say it, but you'll have to figure out what to say.
What do you like most about teaching?
The teaching bug first bit me when I was just one year out of school. I was offered an evening class at The Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. What I remember most about that experience was that teaching forced you to relearn everything you learned in school. I also had a great time teaching at Parsons School of Design in NYC. It was very rewarding in the sense that I learned as much from my students as they learned from me. Learning is a lifelong endeavor and teaching is a great way to do it.
Do you have any advice for Parkland students?
Yes. Show up. And do your homework. It's that simple. No graphic design student can obtain employment without a decent portfolio. No portfolio, no job. No homework, no portfolio. It's really that simple.
Do you have any advice for beginners trying
to learning new software?
Yes. Practice, practice, practice. Learn software the same way you would learn to play the piano. If you do it just once, you won't remember how. Only by playing the same song over and over, do you learn how to play music. And don't be afraid to make mistakes. Troubleshooting your way out of a problem is the fastest way to learn the limits of a particular software program.
important is it for designers to be able to design web sites?
Very very important. The Internet has changed the way we see the world in so many ways. It is the most dynamic visual communication medium designers have had access to. With print, you are often limited by the production budget which determines quantity, size, number of inks, cost of paper, etc. With the web, anyone can have full-color images, motion, sound, interactivity — and it is available instantly for millions of people to experience. Designers are still learning how to harness this new visual vocabulary. It's a very exciting time to be a designer.
Who is your favorite designer?
That would have to be Tibor Kalman. He was an untrained designer who inspired others to break the rules. Often known as the "bad boy" of graphic design, he enjoyed ruffling people's feathers and always looked for ways to turn things upside down. At its height, his design firm M&Co was the place every designer wanted to work. Tibor died of cancer in 1999, but his legacy is preserved in the book Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist, available in the Parkland Library.
What is your favorite movie?
That would have to be "Blade Runner." I'm particularly partial to directors who make visual movies and "Blade Runner" is as much about light as it is about the awakening of a cyborg. Besides Ridley Scott, my favorite directors include Bob Fosse ("All That Jazz"), John Woo ("Hard Boiled," "Face/Off"), and Fellini ("Amarcord").
Who is your favorite band?
That's a hard one. My musical tastes changes over time. Lately, I've been listening a lot to Latin Jazz. My favorite reggae band is Alpha Blondy. My favorite jazz singer is Ella Fitzgerald. Phillip Glass is my favorite classical composer. And I love Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota.
Where do you like to go on vacation?
My wife and I really enjoy going to Mexico. We've been to Baja California, Cozumel, Guadalajara and Isla Mujeres, but our favorite place is Oaxaca in the southern part of Mexico (we've been there twice). We like the people, the culture, the food as well as the arts and crafts of the indigenous people. In addition to Mexico, we've also traveled to Belize, the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, England, Germany, Hawaii, Ireland, Indonesia, India, Italy, Jamaica, Poland, Russia, Scotland, Singapore, Switzerland, and Thailand (see travel pictures).