Area of Study: Graphic Design
Current City: Austin, TX
Graduation Date: Spring 2006
Current Occupation: Senior Visual and Interactive Principal Engineer, Dell Technologies
Personal Website: eriksumma.com
Why did you choose WCU and/or the Department of Art + Design?
To be honest I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was terrified about moving away for college and West Chester was close to where I grew up. I think I randomly took a digital art class as an elective, and fell in love with graphic design. Its been my passion ever since.
What training or education did the Department of Art + Design provide for you that relates to your current occupation?
All of it. Although the mediums have changed, the foundation that I learned at West Chester (color theory, composition, design thinking) is critical to the work I do today.
What is a typical day like for you?
One of the great perks of being a designer is there’s never a dull moment. On any given day I might be whiteboarding interactions, overseeing on-site video shoots, presenting at design crits, facilitating design sprints, defining design patterns for a design language, making animations, or creating the visual design of a new windows application. No day is ever the same.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to enter your field?
To be successful in this industry you must love what you do, and be willing to invest a considerable amount of time outside of normal working hours into staying relevant. It won’t feel like a chore if you’re passionate about the work you do... it’s unrealistic to expect to be successful long term as a designer without understanding emerging industry and technology trends. Follow prominent designers on Medium, visit design blogs daily and attend design conferences. Be fascinated by everything you see around you. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t have all the answers. Be OK with someone disagreeing with you. Don’t fall in love with your designs enough to not listen to helpful feedback.
What is your favorite memory of being a student at WCU and/or in the Department of Art + Design?
A great question! To be honest, I wasn’t that great of a designer when I started at West Chester... but I had the drive and passion be better.
The feedback I got from my professors in class was extremely helpful, so each week I would schedule an extra hour with Peggy Hill during her office hours to take an extra look at my designs. It was a humbling experience to be sure... but after a few weeks I started to hear less negative comments and more positive ones. It helped me understand how to think like a creative.