Brynn Dirksen, Art Director at Razorfish
The Early Student Days
I enrolled at CCSF in the early 2000s, about 5 years after completing a BFA in modern dance from the University of New Mexico. Although I didn’t come from a visual arts background and had limited computer skills, I always had an interest in graphic design. After hearing about the Graphic Design and Production Program through a co-worker, I was compelled to give it a try. The program was a good fit offering a wide variety of classes and allowed me to work while going to school. I spent about 3 ½ years taking every possible graphic design and production class in addition to classes in visual arts, photography and multi-media. The insight gained into visual design as well many related fields set the groundwork for how my career later developed.
First Professional Experiences
After finishing the program, my earliest jobs were found by using my dance and music connections. There was always someone who needed CD packaging, a poster for an event, or a brochure for a benefit. I did a lot of pro bono work and learned a tremendous amount from all the experiences.
I can thank Patricia Chytrowski for my first professional design position. I ran into her one day while waiting tables and was excited to show her a project picked up from the printer earlier in the day. She recommended me for a freelance position a friend of hers had open. The project was for Digidesign, a company that designed and manufactured music recording hardware and software. I spent the next 3 months organizing and laying out hundreds of images, product descriptions and specifications for their annual product catalog. The job immediately taught me the importance of staying organized and properly pacing my work workload. I worked for Digidesign for 5 years, first as a freelance production artist and then as a full time designer. While with the company, I worked on a variety of projects including catalogs, magazine ads, product packaging, marketing campaigns, brochures and web design. This opportunity to diversify my skill set proved invaluable.
The Importance of Keeping in Touch
In 2008, I returned to freelancing and had the chance to broaden my portfolio. A year and a half later, my first opportunity to work in an agency came along when a former co-worker referred me for a project at Razorfish. A majority of Razorfish’s work is digital, but thanks to the multi-media classes at CCSF and the practical web design experience gained at Digidesign, I had no problem making the transition. The freelance work quickly transitioned into a fulltime position, and I have been at Razorfish for 4 years, first as a senior designer and now as an art director. During this time I’ve worked on everything from banner ads, to apps, to full site redesigns for clients including Intel, Wells Fargo and T-Mobile.
A couple of years ago I decided to branch out into experience design, taking advantage of Razorfish’s large user experience department. My position with the agency is now described as “hybrid”, and a majority of my projects have a strong UX component to them. Last year I worked on the site wide redesign of tmobile.com. We designed a new web experience while developing a responsive website that is integrated into a content management system. It was a huge project, and I particularly enjoyed learning how to design for an adaptive/responsive environment.
Throughout my career, I’ve found the most success when maintaining a strong network, diversifying my skill set, and exploring new creative outlets. My time at CCSF gave me the foundation and skills that immediately made me marketable and allowed me to build a solid reputation. From there I was able to gain the job experience that opened up more opportunities. Today I find myself lucky enough to have a career that I sincerely enjoy.
Websites Brynn has worked on professionally:
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