March 12, 2010

Students @Pratt

Name: Annie Beth Ericsson
Major: Communications Design, Illustration
Year of graduation: May 2010
Current date: 3/12/2010



1. We asked you for this interview because of your recent books that were published. Can you tell us more about it?
Last year, I illustrated two board books and designed one middle-grade non-fiction book, which were all published with Star Bright Books. The board books, What's In My Garden? and What's In My Toybox?, are for babies and toddlers, with bright, graphic digital illustrations and interactive lift-the-flaps. The book that I designed, That's Like Me! by Jill Lauren, is a collection of short biographies of real children and adults who have overcome learning differences, such as dyslexia, and gone on to pursue their passions successfully.

2. How did it come about?
The opportunity to make the books stemmed from my internship with Star Bright Books, an independent publisher based in Long Island City, New York. During the course of the internship, I gained a lot of experience with in-house design and the overall process of taking a picture book from start to finish. When the original artwork came in for a board book, it wasn't what the publishers were looking for. My employers asked if I could do any better, and I jumped at the chance to showcase my skills. The rest of the books stemmed from there!

3. How did Pratt play a role in allowing you to get this opportunity?
When it comes to being self-motivated about my career, working in Pratt's Career Services office has had a huge influence on me. By interacting with the Career Counselors, other Peer Counselors and guests at our many events, I learned that you have to be proactive in order to get the professional opportunities that you deserve. Secondly, I wouldn't have had the tools I needed to complete the process without the Communications Design department. When I took the internship and began the board books, I was only a sophomore illustration student, but I already had basic graphic design skills that allowed me to be fulfill the internship and complete the board books in Adobe Illustrator.

4. What is the best thing you took away from your experience?
The best thing I learned from making the books, particularly That's Like Me!, is that creating a book is a team effort. In publishing, a book is equally the product of the editor's, art director's and designer's effort as it is the author/illustrator's. It takes all of those people working together and communicating in order to pull off a shared vision and make a book the best that it can be.

5. What would you suggest to other students looking to jump start their career?
I can't say this enough: immerse yourself in your field and get yourself work BEFORE you graduate (and before 2nd semester senior year)!! It's hard to pull away from classes and homework, but there's nothing more valuable that you could be doing than pursuing your career outside of Pratt. Get an internship (or a few!). Talk with professionals in your field. Build a website and a portfolio. Get critiqued. Promote yourself. Get freelance work. Go to a workshop/lecture/field trip. There are plenty of people and resources out there to help you do this, but no one is going to knock on your door. As with anything in life, you have to make it happen for yourself.


Posted by: L.J. McNerney

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