How do I begin? This was such an amazing experience. Such a wide array of topics were covered by the panel members (Khary Louis, Kwanza Osajyefo, and Joseph Illidge). It was very informative and give insight into the design world and corporate life as well.
One recurring theme during the length of the discussion was race. Each panelist spoke about their struggles in the industry as a black illustrator, author and writer. More often than not, they were usually the only colored person or maybe just a few colored working in the corporate offices. Kwanza even gave a real life example of how he was constantly confused with another (and the only other) black guy in the office. Sometimes they’d call him the other guy’s name and vice versa. All 3 panelists furthermore stated that it felt like somehow they had to be working twice as hard as their white counterparts in the very same positions, to be able to “prove” themselves.
Another topic of discussion was the importance of networking. Khary stressed on how important it was putting yourself out there and meeting new people. Before he started his work at DC Comics, he frequently posted his illustrations on various facebook art group boards for critique etc. which consequently resulted in bonds that to this day, still remain intact. In fact, some of these same people that gave him constructive criticism are his best friends. Moreover, he was referred to jobs by some of them.
A topic that was also brought up based on the Q&A session at the end of the discussion was the portfolio and what is needed/should be added. Joseph Ilidge, being an art director at one point, said he looked for those portfolios that were different. He gave an example on some of the illustration portfolios he’s seen and how everyone seems to have some type of action/drama artwork, but rarely does he see a romantic/love scene, or even a scene from reality – everyday life (ex. somebody walking in rain after work). Something like the latter would definitely draw his attention because it’s DIFFERENT. So even though my major is not illustration, I definitely grabbed on to that advice and started thinking of ways that I can make my portfolio different and stand out.
Overall it was definitely an informative, enlightening, confirmative experience and I got to see it up close and personal right at school for free!