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Irina Blok inspires students at Art Institute

mag-13WMT-t_CA0-superJumboWhat’s weighing on the minds of design students today? They know that creativity won’t be enough to land them their dream jobs. And, they know they will have to be proactive to get where they want to go. As they separate from the safety of their educational institutions and venture out to pursue their dreams they often find themselves too shy to do what must be done. And it seems that as wonderful as the creative community is, it can be quite intimidating to a new art school grad.

Irina Blok
Irina Blok

That is why the students of Art Institute Silicon Valley invited Irina Blok, currently the creative director at startup Curbside,
and formerly of Google where she designed the android logo, to share her insights. Irina was perfect for this task.

Like many of the students at Ai, the US is not her native country. Irina had emigrated with her family from Russia at the age of 18. From a family of engineers she emerged as early as preschool, as a soon-to-be designers. Her parents were supportive.

As she tells the story, she learned that San Jose State had a great art department. Without a second thought, she walked herself to campus and started knocking on doors, explaining that she was there to enroll. The thought of the application and enrollment process never crossed her mind. She just showed up. This turned out to be one of her early lessons on the value of a mentor. In her naïve attempt to enroll she was introduced to just such a person who was willing to take her under his wing and help her through the process.

She went on to describe other fortuitous meetings and connects as she volunteered for as many creative groups that her schedule could accommodate. One such meeting led her to her first design position at Landor. Not a bad start!

Irina stressed the importance of a good portfolio explaining that quality trumps quantity and to let your talents speak for themselves. Over-designed, “clever” portfolio presentations are unnecessary. A portfolio should also demonstrate your thought processes and show side-projects where your passions might have free reign.

Not surprising, Irina listed a number of websites that support the creative community:

Dunked.com is a great ways to quickly build a professional online portfolio. The perfect tool for photographers, artists, designers and those who like to create.

Dribbble.com is a resource she uses frequently to find talent. Dribbble is show and tell for designers. Irina has found great designers from around the world through this site.

Designer News is a great way to stay up to date on the latest trends as is Smashing Magazine and Creative Mornings.

In a nutshell, the students walked away a valuable lesson:

What to have on your to-do list:

  • Find what you want to do
  • Put yourself on the map
  • Get involved in community
  • Find mentors

Insight for getting your dream job:

  • Design Community
  • Cold Calling
  • Job Postings
  • Dribble
  • LinkedIn

Check on more from this event at Creative Exchange on Facebook.


Irina Blok

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