Alicia Lopez snapped this candid at break.

Chris chats with Rolando and grabs a drink at break.

Lunch at Influx-that’s Chris Ford 3rd from the left with a million dollar smile.

From Chris: I didn’t go to college right after high school
It took me a few years of waiting tables and making bad decisions
to decide that a higher education might, in fact, be a good idea. It
sounded a lot better than being a 70-year-old Denny’s waitress who rode
the bus to work. (At the time I was working the graveyard shift
slinging Grand Slams and futilely hoping a book and earphones would
discourage the more aggressive weirdos from striking up conversations on
my daily commute. It didn’t.)

When I decided to start my higher education I chose San Diego City
College because I could afford it and I could get there. Fortunately
this community college had a graphic design program, and the course of
my life changed. I met Candice Lopez, and she ignited a passion for
graphic design in me that lives on today.

Every class you take is leading up to Portfolio

Students review all the projects they’ve completed
over the course of their education, refine them, hire a photographer
and art direct a photo shoot of any three-dimensional projects, and put
everything together in a book that’s judged by top industry
professionals at the annual AIGA Student Portfolio Review.
Local schools including SDSU, the Art Institute and Point Loma
Nazarene College compete. The winners take home scholarships sponsored
by local design firms that range from $1000 for first place to $250 for
category winners. Last year over $5,000 in scholarships were given out.
I’m proud to say that my little community college still kicks. (check out this list—we swept the top three spots last year winning 14 of the 16 awards)
It’s deserved, too—the department has been filled with talent for
years. A lot of graduates get scholarships and continue their educations
at Art Center and other top design schools. Alumni have held positions like the Creative Director at top local agency Digitaria to manager of
the Communication Design team at Facebook—even as the Design Director of
the 2012 Obama re-election campaign.

Our portfolios were our ten best projects. They were photographed or output at a service bureau,
then mounted and flapped on black board. Most students spent a lot of
time having intricate portfolio cases designed and fabricated. It could
get pretty pricey, at least on my limited budget. Plus you had to ship
the whole shebang to any potential employers or schools. That meant only
one person at a time could see your portfolio. So I went a different

I had fallen in love with Director and the REM interactive floppy disk-based press kit for Monster.
I decided to put out a 100% “interactive” portfolio. My only costs were
printing the labels and cases, and having the executable file burned to
a CD-ROM (There were no home CD burners yet, and I knew it wasn’t going
to fit on a floppy). That portfolio led to the job that taught me HTML,
and my career path was set.

On April 11 I’ll head back to my old stomping grounds. I’ve volunteered to teach a WordPress workshop
to the entire graduating class. I’m excited that I have the
opportunity to enable a new generation of graphic designers to use
WordPress to get a job, get into art school, or start their own
freelancing journey.



The graduating class and design faculty want to let you know how much we appreciate the amazing job you did giving the gift of WordPress to our graduates. You are making such a difference for us and we can’t wait to connect with you again in May to polish those websites. Special thanks goes out to Flywheel because they are all about building strong designers. The six months of free hosting will really help these students hit the ground running. Hats off to the plethora of generous donors who helped fund this workshop and subscriptions to Elegant Themes. Chris hosted a Crowdtilt campaign and raised $1,195 for this endeavor. We plan to thank each and every one of you when we get your names! It was fun, educational, informative, empowering and FREE to students who really deserved this terrific opportunity.