All posts by Bao Nghiem

Meet My Mentor

The best part of my summer internship experience? Collaborating with a talented, creative, and innovative professional: my always inspiring (and never dull) supervisor.

download
Source: Internet

When I first arrived at the Vyater Agency, I was so nervous and didn’t know what to expect. All I know about Lenny is that he’s a friend of Professor Davis. But after I met him, I couldn’t have felt more interested in being his intern. My first impression about Lenny was a laid- back and friendly person who is passionate about what he is doing. He has taken time to walk me through my learning process from the beginning to the end and made sure I get the most out of this experience. Through his assignments and feedback, I’ve increased my design skills and learned to be more attentive and creative in perfecting my craft. As a marketing strategist, he also showed me how to get multiple perspectives of how to get an outcome and be more efficient. His professional and technical experience as well as the knowledge and skills from years of education and working in the industry make him a perfect role model for me to look up to.

Working with Lenny never feels stressful. To him, it’s important to not only be creative and productive but also to have fun and be¬†collaborative. An inspiring boss, a supportive team player and a good friend, that’s everything you ever wanted from your mentor.

 

Group Project and Self-Evaluation

During the internship, I’ve learned and gotten inspired not only from my supervisor Lenny but also from collaborating with other designers. One of them was Lia, who is also a former intern at the Vyater Group. She was very understanding and willing to help me with my learning process. As a team, we were required to come up with different logo concepts for Cantor Charity Day.

Having worked on this account before, Lia gave me some background about the Cantor Day which is an annual charity event in remembrance of September 11 victims. A new logo is part of a plan to refresh and expand the fundraising event worldwide. After discussing on which direction to go, Lia and I decided to stay away from the iconography that reminds of  World Trade Center and New York city. The plan was that each of us would come up with as many ideas as possible before finalizing the best ones for client approval. After playing around with common imagery of hands and heart, I started to developing more the ideas of using the candle and the sun icons. During the process, getting comments from Lia and my supervisor Lenny was the key to make sure we were going the right direction. At the end of the day, we were able to come up with a final list of strong concepts that were ready to send to the clients.

Logos-01-01-01-01

Working with Lia and observing the way she tackled the problem made me realize that I need to change my creative process and be more efficient at work. The final list showed off with not much of a dynamic performance on my part.  While Lia were exploring different solutions without worrying too much about the details, I got drawn into making different versions of the same concepts. The business world requires the designers to be flexible in creative thinking in order to reach the highest level of efficiency. And the lesson is to keep moving forward and exploring different aspects of the problem instead of getting yourself trapped in the initial ideas.

Working with the New Platforms

Working hand- in- hand with small businesses as an out sourced creative department, our company runs into a variety of projects with different sizes and scopes that fit into different purposes of the business world. Some of them sometimes require the mediums that, as a student, I had never encountered before.

One of my first assignments was to design two promotional handouts, a door hanger and a postcard, for the Free 5 Day Pass of MatchPoint. The client is going through a transformation in branding to become an upscale fitness center. So the challenge was to transfer that into even the smallest piece of  collateral such as the door knob hanger while maintaining the non-clutter design, appropriate imagery and required text. Another promotional piece, the postcard, then was created based on the approved design of the hanger.

MatchPoint

Another interesting project was the envelop for Cool Frames Lenses. This project was a chance for me to practice what I’ve learned from the Packaging Design class last semester. Since the client didn’t provide us with any specs, my first step was to find a suitable die-line for the envelop. In addition to the overall clean and simple design, I decided to create the icons for the lenses’ features¬†in order to make the label more interesting,

CoolFrames_LensesEnvelope-v2

How often in school will you need to design a car magnet? Smart HD Life is a camera surveillance and security system start-up company that is in the need of marketing and branding. This was a quick turn around since the client wanted everything ready and run up as soon as possible. While Lenny was working on the marketing strategy aspect, my job was to come up with a draft graphic concept and a color palette for both the business card and the car magnets. To ensure the design consistency and the branding purpose, I came up with a set of simple icons that could be used across different platforms.

SmartHDLife

 

Adhere to the Style Guide

Getting into the real business is sure different from being at the classroom. School projects usually give me the freedom of being the only decision maker who decides ¬†the overall look and feel, what fonts and colors to use etc. But it isn’t always the case in reality, especially at my company where seventy five percent of the job are production- based projects from the in-house design departments.

MTI5MDI1NzkzMjkxNTU3MzQy

My very first project was an e-invitation for a financial event in which all I had to do is replacing the previous design with an image of Atlanta skyline and updating the event information. Having learned about brand identity and understanding the client’s requirement of consistency didn’t keep me from being disappointed at first. After working on many projects that required consistent adherence to the established set of standards, I got more and more comfortable taking over someone’s design and following the guidelines. More importantly, I started developing a more professional attitude knowing that I might not always be the original designer and sometimes I have to take over a project with fixed elements and move it forward. Because at the end of the day, the goal is to achieve the highest level of client satisfaction.

Getting Started: The Internal Server

digital-organization-computer
Source: Internet

The first thing that I needed to learn was getting around with the internal network which provides access to the company’s internal files as well as the mail server through wifi. I learned that most of the agencies use a similar system which is an efficient and secured way for backup, sharing and communication between individuals and departments within the company. Once logged in to the company’s wifi, I’m able to access the company’s Internal server called Disk Station that functions as a storage for all of the digital assets and projects. ¬†That means I can instantly review, share, open and edit any file from another designer without leaving my workstation.

The next step was to get familiar with the folder structure. Lenny explained to me the way we organize the files by year, clients, media, etc. For example, we categorize the clients into the prime and sub- clients followed by year and then specific types of the projects. By coming up with a standard in naming and storing files, the task becomes easy when it comes to finding info, clients and managing the large amount of projects. At a micro level, I then can apply this method to keep my files organized as well as improve my work efficiency.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 5.33.51 PM

From using the same internal network, we are also able to communicate through an internal email server that  helps manage the workflow and ensures  the accuracy by establishing an unlimited communication between the Creative Director, clients and designers. Since the email server is where I got assignments and feedback from Lenny and the clients, opening the mailbox first thing in the morning and constantly checking it throughout the day became my daily habit at work.

The Office’s Culture

Office Desk

My workday usually started with a cup of coffee on the way to work. The office is located at a lively business street of Brighton Beach Avenue. The area is full of shops, restaurants ¬†and people in colorful summer outfits heading to the beach. Although I had always pictured myself walking to the office in Manhattan every morning, I came to realize that having an internship at a Brooklyn-based agency wasn’t disappointing after all. Less commuting time and not having to deal with the city crowd seemed to make my day much easier.

The Vyater Group has a high expectation of the employees’ ability to do the job, not of what they wear at work. Lenny gives us the freedom of expressing ourself through clothing¬†in order to make a creativity-friendly environment. Like others designers, my typical outfit at work would be a combination of jeans and T-shirts.

Desk2

Here I am, at the office, welcomed with a smile from Kelly, the Social Media manager. Each of us has our own Mac workstation. Lenny has his own room and the creative team shares another room with the wall¬†covered with design references and inspiring quotes. . Since we all gathered around in one room, communication wasn’t a problem. The typical work day is around 8 hours and we get to choose between 9 and 10 am to start.¬†Lenny shows his understanding about circumstances out side of work by his¬†flexibility of schedule and treats the team with respect. That not only benefits but somehow motivates us to do the best for the interests of the company.

My Role as an Intern

CPL_Banner_1540x740-770x370
Source: Internet

Finding an internship taught me things that I might not get to learn in a classroom. One of them was the importance of seeking out and cultivating relationships in the business world. Although landing an interview in this profession still requires a strong portfolio, connections and networking become more powerful tools than ever. As in my case, with the referral of Professor Davis, who is one of the most influential person in my creative profession, I got to know that the Vyater Group was looking for interns this summer.

Shortly after I emailed my resume and online portfolio to Lenny, the founder and Creative Director of VG agency, I landed an in-person interview with him on the next day. During the interview, I got a chance to introduce myself as a designer by going through my works and skills. Having prepared for the interview questions didn’t keep me from being nervous. However, I managed to hold the conversation pretty well since most of the questions were about my favorite works and how comfortable I am with each of the design applications. Besides the questions , Lenny also gave me an overview of the company and the creative team which I would be a part of. A week later, my experience really started as Lenny offered me the internship position after combing through some other applicants.

img_columbus_graphic_designers
Source: Internet

Being part of the production team at the Vyater Group means keeping up with the fast-paced environment while producing the best quality solutions. My job as a design intern was to support both the creative and production process. Whether it was a new project that needed everything from concept to creation or  sometimes making edits to finalized art before it went to press. Beside coming up with the idea and finalizing the projects, also my job was to establish a good communication with the clients regarding feedback and comments to ensure the final results fulfill their requirements. I was also expected to work hand in hand and support other creative team members on image search and photo editing. No matter what assignment and area of the process that I got involved, expressing the best effort in every details of the job was always a priority.

 

About the Vyater Group

1483225_701599366526702_2055639236_n
Source: Facebook

Founded in 2009 by Mr. Vyater, The Vyater Group is a privately held creative agency based in the bustling Brighton Beach area of Brooklyn. The agency provides the clients with¬†¬†a full service of ¬†integrated creative and marketing strategy, graphic production, online business development and support. The company is interested in not only the well-established clients’ need of increasing and enhancing their lifetime value and business goals but also in helping the start-up businesses increase brand awareness as well as marketing strategy. By doing so, the Vyater Group doesn’t not limit itself on the spectrum as the client list shows a wide range of different accounts ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500, and from beauty and fashion retail to financial corporations.

FullSizeRender431602_494187717267869_803513352_n

Being a part of the creative team at the Vyater Group helped me thoroughly understand their vision. ” No project is too small and no turn around time is too short “- that philosophy of the founder, Mr. Vyater, guides the creative team through a variety of projects and accounts with only one focus: achieving the clients’ objectives within their time and budget constraints. That flexibility makes the business fit in the current economic environment.¬†Next to me, a guy was doing a business card for a start-up camera service while right behind me, another designer was working on a billboard that would be placed in Times Square.