Lessons for the graphic artist: Discussion by Erick Pfleiderer

By VAL PETSCHE

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Alumni speaker Erick Pfleiderer spoke to students about the tools needed to achieve a successful career in graphic design. Photo by Val Petsche.

Staff Writer

Visiting graphic artist and SU alumni Erick Pfleiderer spoke Thursday evening in Fulton Hall to provide insight about a successful career in graphic design.

Pfleiderer is the creative director and strategist at Taoti Creative in D.C. as of 2016. He started out as a graphic artist for Salisbury University with the Office of Student Activities before rising through the ranks at SPARK Experience design, the Charles Regional Medical Center and Tim Kenny Marketing, among others.

He has received over 35 design awards across a variety of mediums, and past clients include Pepsi, the Washington National Cathedral organization, the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Reserve.

Pfleiderer discussed a variety of lessons learned following each job experience, as well as what it takes to land your first job and how to perform well during an interview. He additionally suggested using summers to work at an internship as a way to learn more skills and broaden one’s knowledge base in the field.

“You really have to take advantage of every opportunity,” Pfleiderer said, referring to the importance of experience over money. For him, getting a foot in the door is invaluable whenever possible.

His career path began with an interview at the College of Southern Maryland, where poor directions and a lack of GPS technology caused him to arrive twenty minutes late. But Pfleiderer maintained a determined persona, used a promotional piece he learned at SU and owned the meeting. He was offered the job later that day.

“It goes to show you how much confidence can do for you,” he said.

Sophomore art major Jordan Kahl shared her opinion about the presentation.

“It was very informative, and it’s always cool to hear success stories from someone like [Pfleiderer]. He actually went to Salisbury,” she said.

Pfleiderer learned four major lessons after finishing his first two jobs. One is to save money, because a high salary is not always guaranteed. For example, he bought a new car shortly after being hired at the medical center, but was laid off only six months later.

“If you think for one second how quickly you have job security, it is pretty amazing how that can come to bite you,” he said.

The second lesson is that the grass is not greener on the other side, for everything is not always as it seems. In addition, update your profile regularly. Every time a project is finished, it is important to add that to one’s list of experience. Finally, use freelance work to bridge employment gaps. LinkedIn is a great tool for students to showcase their portfolio and form connections.

The lessons Pfleiderer learned after his time with a small business include the need to enjoy one’s job and the importance of having a boss that one can respect. He stated that there is a vital need to know the economics of design simply by understanding the various costs required as an artist in graphic design.

Also, working remotely or from home can make it hard to maintain creativity, for it is not as glamorous as many would imagine. He concluded with the message that hard work eventually pays off in the end.

Pfleiderer also mentioned an unlikely lesson for students to conceptualize.

“It is okay to say, ‘I don’t know.’”

This is important, he explained, in being honest to one’s creative ability as well as in recognizing the potential to improve.

The plethora of lessons which Pfleiderer communicated during his presentation culminated into a final message.

“Making something great takes time, and that includes making yourself great,” he said.

Pfleiderer says to never settle, and keep persisting.

The presentation was made possible by Brooke Rogers, associate professor of art at Salisbury University.

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