Can you describe your current job or practice?
Neha Kavan: I’m a (multidisciplinary) graphic designer on Lehigh University‘s in-house Communications and Public Affairs team.
Neha Kavan: My background is in Fashion Design. I did my Bachelors (Apparel/Fashion Design) from National Institute of Fashion Design. My job, straight out of college, was pan-India fashion+graphic designer for a menswear brand. Over time, I realized that I really wanted to study the graphic design aspect of what I was doing formally. I heard about the AAS GD program at Parsons from a friend (a recent grad) when I was looking at schools and courses—so I guess it was him who brought me to Parsons! (Can I do a shoutout? If yes, shout out to @bobsurrao! : ))
How did you end up getting a job at a university?
Neha Kavan: During my second semester at Parsons in Graphic Design, at Julia Gorton‘s suggestion, I started working at The New School’s in-house Marketing and Communications studio. I had the opportunity to work on all sorts of things from print to web to social media to environmental design to little animations to school swag to applying the new visual identity system that Pentagram brought in! I spent 2 years there (going from ‘student assistant designer’ to ‘freelance graphic designer’) owing to the breadth of work I got to do, and the powerhouse designers I was surrounded by. I interviewed with Lehigh University’s communications team because working in higher-education is great – it gives you the chance to learn about all sorts of things (by virtue of covering them in the work you do) that you’d never have heard about otherwise! And I imagine that one of the reasons I got the job was because I had higher-ed experience—I understood the challenges they faced, and I think they liked that I would come into the gig knowing how things work.
Neha Kavan: A poster project in my second semester, for Julia Gorton’sGD-2. We had to pick random objects out of a bag and create an informative poster about them. Mine was a tuning fork, and during our first critique, Julia suggested I move away from my (usual) stark approach and introduce colour into my layout. She even suggested throwing a gradient in there, which completely horrified me, but then I tried it and ended up seriously embracing the whole color and gradients situation—I don’t think I’ve been the same since.
Neha Kavan: I really like exploring places by foot, and through food. A pair of headphones and a book will probably feature in the mix too.
Do you have any advice for young designers or students about to graduate?
Neha Kavan: It feels surreal to be dispensing advice. I guess I’d say.. just keep making things, and always sweat the details – the more you make, the better you get. Also, and this is something my favorite art-director once told me, all jobs—even the non-glamorous ones—can be an opportunity to learn and grow, so don’t ever dismiss the seemingly uncool tasks.
Neha Kavan: Long-term, I’ve always wanted to use design to affect positive change—I’m trying to figure out how to do that full-time. Short-term, I’d love to be able to work at a few more design studios before I embark on that long-term adventure. I firmly believe in osmosis in design—I want to soak in and learn all I can from as many people as I can.