Saturday, October 18, 2008

Janine Vangool

Graduating Year: 1995
Occupation: designer, curator, publisher

What are you up to now? How did you end up there?
I started my design company, Vangool Design & Typography, in the year following graduation. Early on, I was able to specialize in design for arts and culture. Since opening UPPERCASE gallery, books & papergoods in downtown Calgary's Art Central building, I have been dedicating more and more time into growing the business as a fun shop as well as a venue for my own creative and entrepreneurial endeavours. In the past year, I have published three books and am looking forward to continuing on that path.

Has art school contributed to where you have found yourself today?
Attending ACAD was an initial step in the right direction. I entered the visual communications program right out of highschool, so those four years were useful to gain some skills and to mature a little.

Is there anything you learned from attending art school that you apply in your current situation?
The most significant thing is that for my graduating project, I designed an identity for a bookstore. Now I've fulfilled my dream of having a bookstore and design company rolled into one.

What inspires you now?
Perhaps it is the solid decade of working exclusively on the computer, but I am increasingly inspired by things made by hand. Reading favourite blogs and seeing images by my favourite photographers on Flickr is very inspiring and motivating. I also follow the careers of successful entrepreneurial creative women who are my virtual mentors.

What inspired you in art college?
In college and when I first graduated, I devoured design books and magazines. The were instrumental in motivating me to start my own business.

Any advice or words of wisdom to students?
School is nothing like real life!

Any advice or words of wisdom to graduating students?
Do what you love, first and foremost. Jobs and income will fall into place if you're sincerely passionate about your craft.

Is there anything you would do differently if you were in art school now?
I would go to graduate school in a foreign land.

How did your perception of the real world change after art college?
When I was in school, there was absolutely no instruction on managing your own business. It did not offer a real-world depiction of a career in graphic design. So I learned a great deal on my own by trial and error.

What were some of the difficulties you faced when you got out of art college?
I had a solid portfolio, great response at the portfolio show and a dozen interviews within the first month after graduation, but not a single job was available. I thought I was a star student and jobs in Calgary would be coming my way, but it took a number of months before I found something. And even that was only tangentially related to graphic design. After nine months, I quit the job and started freelancing.

Did you do any further schooling after art college?

Anything you miss about art school?
nope! In my evolving career, I am constantly learning - this keeps be energized and excited about going to work every day.

What were your goals or dreams when you left college? Were they realized, changed, how?
I always hoped to have my own design studio, so that goal was realized much more quickly than I ever imagined. I thought I'd get a job in a studio and learn the ropes for a few years! Now, as I develop UPPERCASE, my goals are centred around self-driven projects. Client-based projects are becoming a secondary aspect to my worklife.