October 17, 2014

Inside Track into the Industry: Product Development

On September 25th, I had the pleasure of attending an event hosted by the Center for Career & Professional Development. This event was an Inside Track into Industry: Product Development.

Students sat at round tables with alumni from various majors that included interior design, architecture, and illustration, just to name a few. Each table had a bell in the middle, and when students had a question they would ring the bell and ask the alumni. Students at the table were able to chat with the alumni for 30 minutes, and discuss product development as well as any other questions about the alumni experiences at Pratt and how those influenced their current careers. At the end of the half-hour, a gong was struck to indicate the end of the round table discussion. Following the gong, each alumni stood up and shared the most interesting or important question they got from the group of students, and their response to said question. The alumni switched tables and then had another round of discussions with a new group of students.
If you weren’t able to make it to the event, here are some of the most important answers that came from our alumni:
“What is the most important thing in Product Development?”
“Clarity, the product has to stand for itself, someone has to just see it and get. Because you won’t always be there to explain your work, and it has to be able to stand on it’s own.”
“What makes someone a good person to work with?”
“There are 3 things that makes someone a positive co-worker. Number 1: you are easy to work with, 2: You are talented and you can do the work well, and 3: you can do it quickly and on time.”
“How as a designer or an artist, do you learn about the business side of things?”
“I made stuff and found out how to sell it, you just got to get in it and know the questions to ask. Once you have the product though, the questions will come, and then you just have to find a way to answer them, whether it’s classes, working, or asking someone.”
Don’t miss the next Inside Track into Industry: Publishing event happening on October 22, 2014! Registration for events can be found at: ccpd.pratt.edu/events.

Written by: Diana Li

September 18, 2014

Pratt Alumni Spotlight: Cesar Kuriyama

Cesar Kuriyama is a Pratt alumni who graduated from the Digital Arts program with a focus in computer animation. Last year he released his app 1SE (1 Second Everyday, demoed in the above video) based off a personal project he’d been working on for years. We were lucky enough to do an interview with Cesar, where we talked about his experiences at Pratt and how they helped him to develop the career he has now.

Tell us about 1 Second Everyday.

“1 Second Everyday started as a side project for me, because I took a year off of work to basically leave advertising and try do something else with my life. And I wanted to remember that year off somehow, because I was always really frustrated with my memory. I thought why don’t I just record a little tiny slice of every day, so that I can compile it into this 6 minute montage that would be really easy to relive, and it would include every single day of that year.It turned out that every single one of those moments actually provided me with a visual trigger. I can remember every single day of my life since the day I started. Plus I noticed the positive impact it was having in my life, so I wanted to develop a way so that anyone could do the same.”

So how do you think your experience in your major at Pratt helped shape you as the artist you are today?

“The coolest thing about going to Pratt was that even though I was a computer animation major was meeting people from every single major watching them do photography, film, industrial design, sculpture. And after spending 4 years around all these people and just being constantly inspired by them, I took classes in everything. And all that stuff ended up being a huge catalyst for all the work I ended up doing after Pratt. To me it's like a community of really awesome artists who end up in one place, and the possibilities that come out of those friendships is what was the most valuable to me."

Did you do internships while you were at Pratt?

"My internship story is that I really wanted an internship during my junior and senior year at Pratt even though I felt I probably wasn’t good enough yet. But I tried anyway. I had to make reels. It was pre­YouTube days so I had to record my animation portfolio reels into VHS tapes, and send them to different studios. I made about fifty VHS tapes and I ended up getting 2 replies. The first one was like ‘We’d love to have you but we’re going out of business’ so I was like ‘Okay’. And the second one was Marvel Comics, which turned into the awesomest summer of my life! I learned so much, and worked on films and comics that I grew up with. It was like living my childhood dream.”

Do you have any advice for current students?

“First of all, really take your work seriously. The work you're doing right now isn’t just your homework, it’s your portfolio. This is what you’re going to be using to apply for jobs. When you leave school you lose the ability to have constant critiques and get advice from your professors, and working side by side with friends who are all in the same situation as you. And it becomes extraordinarily difficult to keep tabs on yourself and keep making projects once you're on your own."

Anything else you’d like to add?

“What is that Pratt quote ‘Be true to your work, and your work will be true to you.’? Pratt is these four amazing years surrounded by incredibly, amazingly, talented people. I would suggest doing as many things you can at Pratt, because it is ridiculous how interconnected art is. You don’t have to become good at everything but just enough to understand a lot of different aspects of art."

If you want to hear more of what Cesar has to say check out his TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/cesar_kuriyama_one_second_every_day

Special Thanks to Cesar Kuriyama


Interviewed by: Kat Holland & Britt Gettys
Written by: Diana Li

September 9, 2014

Career Coffee Break: Crayon MinYen Hsieh

Career Coffee Break with Crayon MinYen Hsieh from Pratt Success on Vimeo.

Crayon MinYen Hsieh is an award-winning user experience designer and digital artist with a multicultural and international perspective currently based in NY. His works has been featured in Adobe Design Award, PromaxBDA and A Design Award. He has worked for Ogilvy& Mather x IBM Design Lab, SONY Music Entertainment, and MTV with the experience of B2B and B2C.

You can view more of Crayon's work at www.imcrayon.com

The Career Coffee Break program is run by the Pratt Success Career Ambassadors for theCenter for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) at Pratt Institute. The Career Ambassadors bring coffee to Pratt Alumni in their studio and interview them on what life is like after graduation.

April 30, 2014

Floating on a Balloon of Books: An Inside Look at Black Balloon Publishing

by Britt Gettys

"The recipes function as a sort of found poetry,
if you will, a jumping-off point for a
consideration of how sound relates to flavor." - Esquire
Tucked away in the corner of an office building in Lower Manhattan sits Black Balloon Publishing, a small indie press dedicated to publishing the strange and unique.  Despite their small stature -- Black Balloon has only ten full-time employees and a handful of freelancers to it’s name -- it’s clear early on that this company is one of both heart and ambition.

Barbara Clevland Bourland, Black Balloon’s Digital Director, welcomed Pratt Students into one of the warmly lit conference rooms,  where doughnuts and stacks of books decorated the table.  She then proceeded to tell students about Black Balloon’s mission and way of business.  “We were founded back in 2010 by Elizabeth Koch, who you may know as the co-founder of Literary Death Match, and Leigh Newman, the deputy editor of Oprah Magazine.  We only published one book that year,The Recipe Project: A Delectable Extravaganza of Food and Music, which is basically a bunch of recipes by celebrity chefs, which we then turned into songs.  So a CD is included with the book.”  From there they expanded to publish two more books in 2012, and then even more in 2013.  With books featured in Publisher’s Weekly, and The New York Times, this independent publisher is only just beginning to grow.   

“Our first location was in a basement, which really wasn’t ideal for a press for a variety of reasons.  Now we have this little space, which is a part of We Work.”  We Work itself is a unique venture, and a perfect fit for a small company such as Black Balloon.  We Work is a collaborative community platform, which works to connect small businesses with each other by housing them in a communal office space.  But We Work offers so much more than a simple office space -- if spaces which include fully stocked kitchens, exotic conference rooms, and theaters can be considered simple, they are dedicated to providing start-ups with the resources and amenities necessary for success such as: health care, worker’s compensation, web hosting, marketing, travel, entertainment, and more.  Bourland states that, when Black Balloon was looking for a more permanent space, their only concern was cost: “can we afford to do what we need to do here?”  When faced with We Work, the answer was yes.     

"Robert Perisic is a light bright with intelligence and twinkling with irony, f
lashing us the news that postwar Croatia not only endures but matters."
- Jonathan Franzen
Aside telling us about what Black Balloon looks for in a manuscript and the premise of their upcoming novel, which centers on the personification of a few well known bombs, Bourland also encouraged students to seek out internships as a way of getting their foot in the door.  “We are always hiring interns, and what I personally try to do, as do other members of our team, is get them actual jobs in the industry when they graduate.  We’ve promoted one of our interns to a full time position here, and other’s I’ve set up with jobs in a variety of other publications.  Part of being a small press is that we have a more personal connection with our employees, and as a result have more of an ability to care for those employees. We have the time to focus on our interns and freelancers, more so than larger publishers, because our operation is relatively small." This is perhaps one of the biggest differences between independent presses and larger publishers, such as The Big Five -- the five major trade book publishers, all of which have headquarters in New York: Hachette Books, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, and Simon and Schuster.
Upon showing students Black Balloon’s actual office space, which consists of a corner, office with wall to floor glass ceilings, and enough desk space to maybe accommodate five employees at a time -- most of their square footage goes towards housing books -- Bourland also encouraged students to pitch story ideas to their blog: The Airship.  “One of the best ways for a writer to jumpstart their career is by freelancing.  All that means is pitching article ideas to magazines and various media outlets, and if they like your idea they’ll tell you to write it for them and boom, you’ve been paid and got a byline.”  
"This illustrated novel about growing up poor near the swamps of South Florida has a lurid vibrancy. Its prose is lit from below, like a vaguely scummy in-ground swimming pool, and the author’s photographs — of ranch houses, randy adolescents, alligators, drug paraphernalia, fishing tackle, convenience stores — are what you might get if you combined William Eggleston’s talents with Terry Richardson’s." — Dwight Garner, The New York Times

As the tour drew to a close, Bourland was quick to give everyone her card, as well as the card of The Airship’s managing editor, and said “If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to email me!”  We all thanked her for showing us around, and as we were herded into the elevator, she waved us off with a cheerful wink.     

by Britt Gettys
April 30, 2014