This month we are catching up with SDCC Graphic Design Alumni Andy Gabbert and thank him for sharing his creative journey.
How did San Diego City College Graphic Design help you get started on your career path?
When I originally applied to ArtCenter with a makeshift portfolio from a different college, I was told to contact Candice Lopez at SDCC in order to get my materials up to par in order to be accepted to an undergraduate art and design college. Going to SDCC was like a mini boot camp to prepare me for the enormous challenge that attending ArtCenter presented.
Tell us about your education after City College and job experience including what you are doing now.
I spent three years at ArtCenter where, luckily, the process of healthy competition and receiving/participating in critiques was already ingrained in me at SDCC. Candice would always showcase the beautiful lettering and elegant logos created by Doyald Young. I was able to transfer my City College units and start in the second semester at ArtCenter, but I made a special case to be allowed to take Doyald’s first semester lettering class whose work Candice had introduced me to.
Right after graduation I started working at Wiehle-Carr, an architectural and design firm in Los Angeles owned by one of my professors. I got to learn some CAD, build architectural models, and shape the identity of the firm. Then I followed my future wife to her new job way across the country in Columbus, Georgia. It was there that I got into packaging and identity work at Char-Broil. Eventually we moved back to California but this time further north in the Bay Area. I spent the next handful of years working in the Financial District for several companies including Barclays Global Investors, BlackRock, and Union Bank. Most of that work involved publications, custom event identities, information design, and in-branch graphics.
Most recently I was recruited for an opportunity to work at NGINX (“engine-ex”), a start-up that powers a majority of the world’s largest and most popular websites. I was a bit doubtful about their decision to bring someone in from a different field. They insisted that they were looking for great design, no matter how it was applied. Since then I’ve worked on numerous websites, UI, motion graphics, multiple event identities, and, of course, lots of pieces of swag.
Throughout my career I’ve also maintained my own freelance business. I mostly work directly with clients looking to develop their identities from scratch and then apply it to their websites, collateral, and even their food trucks.
What do you enjoy about working in a creative field?
I like the variety that our field offers. I never thought that I would’ve worked with architects, food photographers, financial writers, people in advertising, and software engineers — all within one job. I also enjoy making clients happy when they see what they’ve been envisioning take shape and come to life.
Any advice you have for aspiring designers as they begin their own journey?
Keep your connection to the handmade — whether it’s a logo, a model for a space, or sketching out the user experience for a new app, to name a few examples. I’ve always been surprised with coworkers that jump immediately to the computer before even formulating any ideas on paper.
Also, don’t be afraid of new challenges. Never stop learning. If I would’ve stopped during my career because of something I didn’t know how to do, I would’ve never exposed myself to new possibilities. To this day I’m still curious about and actively explore new techniques, approaches, and tools.
You can check out more of Andy’s work at the link below: