A Cover Letter That Says it All.. And More!

19 Feb

Here is a revised version of my cover letter taking in all the suggestions I was given.  Thanks for the input, keep it coming!

Dear Sir or Madam:

If you are looking for a designer who can take your projects from concept to creation with enthusiasm and skill then I am the designer for you.  I am positive that the (position) at (company) is a position at which I would excel.  I have eight years experience in designing and editing everything from photos, to videos and motion graphic projects.  Four of these years were spent earning my Bachelors Degree in Interactive Digital Design from Quinnipiac University where I am continuing my education with a Masters Degree in Interactive Communications.  Design is both a career and a passion for me.  I have professional experience in motion graphics and editing, and am continuously improving my skills in all areas.

I graduated college Magna Cum Laude and developed a strong work ethic by maintaining my GPA, working two jobs, and competing as a Division 1 college athlete.  All of my past coaches have selected me as a captain of my team; relying on me to lead and inspire.  As a result of this team experience I work well with others either as a leader or a member of the team, perform well under pressure, and can handle the pressure and responsibility of a leadership role or projects on my own.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I know that I will be a great asset to the company and I would love to meet with you to discuss a future within (company).  I have attached my resume and my portfolio site can be viewed at  I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Alicia Chouinard


Inspiring World

14 Feb

“Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.” – Jamie Paolinetti

little_people_street_art_3Inspiration lives all around us. All we need to do is allow is to enter our lives.  When you pay attention to details and apply your imagination the simplest elements, like a dead bug on the sidewalk, become a brilliant concept.  I have found that the more I learn about design the closer I look at EVERYTHING around me.  In particular the works of other designers that I find inspiring.

Along with the “little people” hunter photo above.  I found a Valentines day  ’share the love’happy_valentines_day_street_art_love_1 image on the same site.  An extremely creative yet completely simple design that takes a concept ” take all the love you need” and puts it in literal form making it a cute, humorous and brilliant design!  Once again simple concept, simple design, great execution.  Looks easy, but it never is.  Keep your eyes open because the first step to a successful design concept is inspiration.  And inspiration is everywhere.


The Meaning Behind the Madness

14 Feb

Design is thinking made visual.” - Saul Bass

This is one of my absolute favorite design quotes.  Saul Bass is a legend in the world of title design and motion graphics. “SAUL BASS (1920-1996) was not only one of the great graphic designers of the mid-20th century but the undisputed master of film title design thanks to his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger and Martin Scorsese.” (“Saul Bass / – Design/Designer Information.”).

In the early 1950s [he] directed the first abstract title sequence for the Otto Preminger film The Man with the Golden Arm; it showed the animated development of a crooked, serpentine arm and hand twisting around the names of the cast.  Influenced by the art of German expressionism, this unprecedented symbolic approach was used to indicate the raw, drug-related theme of the movie” (Heller).

But enough about Saul Bass, how can he help understand the design process?  He once said that young designers “are not privy to the process” and think that [design concepts] “really spring full-blown out of the head of some designer” (Marsack).  He is obviously a huge supporter of the process of design.  And his work shows that he has a very good understanding of it.

In this post I will be analyzing the title sequence for North by Northwest to look into Saul Bass’s own personal design process.  To give you an understanding of the film if you have not already seen it, “a hapless New York advertising executive [Roger Thornhill] is mistaken for a government agent [George Kaplan] by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive” (“North by Northwest (1959) – IMDb”).

Now on to the Designing

Screen shot 2011-02-17 at 6.36.00 PM

The film titles for North by Northwest by Saul Bass discretely foreshadow the film. The lines that come in to form the building come in sporadically and from all different directions. This reflects the chase that occurs throughout the movie and all the different directions that the characters go.

The outline’s then fade into a shot of a city building with the reflected chaotic street below that, as a result of the reflection, portrays cars going all different directions and into each other. The shots then cut to different shots of people moving around the city streets in a bustle. In these shots the camera never allows you to focus on one individual until the shot of Albert Hitchcock, which makes no one stand out and places everyone on the same level.  This links not only to the chaos of the chases but to the fact that anyone could have been mistaken as the character George Kaplan but Roger Thornhill just happened to call over the bell hop when he was calling George Kaplan’s name. The music also adds to the idea of the chase and the elements of suspense with a busy, up-tempo score.

The lines that created the building also seem to reflect the idea that things, and in the case of the movie, people, are not always what or who they seem. When the lines first come together and until it fades into the shot of the building, it is not obvious to the viewer that the lines are supposed to represent a city building. Also, there are thick rectangular lines that come in opposite the text, which has a look similar to that of an elevator. Although it seems to work visually with the scattered feel of the rest of the film title I do not really understand the significance in any other way.

The typography follows along the lines of the building in a sort of boxed, trapped in way that works well, but is occasionally hard to read as a result of the perspective that is created by the lines of the building. The perspective also creates the image of distance and adds the effect of 3D.  Also, the first and last letters in the title North by Northwest, the N and the T, are created with text that forms arrows in the directions of north and northwest. All of these design elements are simple yet subtle tells into the story which all come together to form a great introduction to the film.

So when designing keep in mind a quote by Adrian Shaughnessy ”the best design always looks effortless … but when it comes to it, we find it is much more difficult than we at first thought” (Shaughnessy).

Works Cited

Heller, Steven, and Teresa Fernandes. Becoming a Graphic Designer: a Guide to Careers in Design. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley & Sons, 2006. Print.

Marsack, Robyn. Essays on Design 1: AGI’s Designers of Influence. London: Booth-Clibborn, 1997. Print.

“Saul Bass / – Design/Designer Information.” Design Museum London. Web. 14 Feb. 2011. <>.

“Saul Bass.” Quotes on Design. Web. 14 Feb. 2011. <>.

Shaughnessy, Adrian. How to Be a Graphic Designer, without Losing Your Soul. New York: Princeton Architectural, 2005. Print.

“North by Northwest (1959) – IMDb.” The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Web. 14 Feb. 2011. <>.


Posted in Responses


More Than Just a Pretty Design

13 Feb

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein

Creating a good design concept for a show open takes more than just a snap of the fingers.  The boss comes to you with the title of the show and occasionally a description of what kind of show it is. As a designer you need to just go with it.  For this “how to” we are going to assume the still logo is already created and all we need to design is the environment where the logo will live and the animation that will introduce the logo.

To begin, lay out all of the information you were given and all of the information if you can infer.  For example,the name of the show is “The Baseball Show“.  You can presume that the show is about baseball and thus the open must reference baseball in some way.  What takes the thought is hopefully not what you will be referencing, but how.  You want your reference to be simple rather than in your face.  Go crazy brainstorming baseball elements; the ball, bats, helmets, the field, bases, grass, anything you can think of that can be related to baseball.  Now how can you simplify these elements to create an entire unique environment based solely on baseball?

Break each element down.  What makes it unique to baseball?  The laces of the ball.  The wood of the bat.  The look of the helmet.  The shape of the field.  The fabric of the bases.  The patterns in the grass.  Start sketching things out, searching through images, playing with images on the computer; whatever is easiest for you to visualize the clutter of ideas you are coming up with and weed out what works and what does not.

Create a color palette.  Because we already have a logo this will be a bit simpler for us.  We know it will include red, white, black, silver, and any colors we add to the palette will have to compliment these colors.  One of the baseball elements we came up with was grass, which would most likely add the color green to our palette.  This would be a big mistake because of the HUGE Christmas association that the colors red and green together have.  However just because we want to use the grass element does not necessarily mean we have to use the color green.  This is where you need to play around and create a visual that will allow you to see more possibilities.  Put in the grass elements and adjust the colors.  You will know right away whether this will be a disaster idea or a stroke of genius.  In this case our color palette is already strong so we may want to come up with an environment that reflects these pre-determined colors.  Red grass? Duotone red/black grass?   We seem to be getting somewhere, but then the boss walks up behind you and tells you he wants a cleaner more metallic look to fit the metal logo.

Back to the drawing board.  What elements did we come up with that could be adjusted to have a metal look.  Bats, but then it would no longer reflect professional baseball where they use wood bats.  The bases but those would create a very simple shape that does not necessarily link back to baseball.  But using the shapes of the elements is a good idea.  This way you can insinuate baseball without putting a field in the background.  So what other shapes are unique to baseball?

Stare at the logo for another minute..

Screen shot 2011-02-13 at 9.05.28 PM

..unique to baseball.

Laces!  The sewn laces on a baseball could easily be adjusted to look metallic, would create a unique pattern that could be animated to create a background environment, AND would already be included in our color palette.

Then it is back to sketching and visualizing.  You now have your puzzle pieces that can be used to make a beautiful image, but you need to put all the pieces together for the image to be seen.  You need to look at the shape of your pieces and see how they fit together best to create the image you want to create.  If you are new to designing, and even if you have been in the business forever, the only way  to figure this out is trial and error.  Use the pieces you have, play with them, and eventually you will find something that works.

The final step to creating a successful design concept is to set a deadline.  Whether it is for a job, a class, or just a fun project on your own you need to set a time when it needs to be done.  If you do not do this you will stare at and adjust your pieces over and over again convincing yourself that something is not right.  So set a deadline, make your adjustments, get feedback from others who have not been staring at the same image for hours, and then finish your design.

Baseball Show Open Test 1_0068

It is not an easy process.  You will become frustrated at times, but when this happens walk away.  Then come back to your design and appreciate what you have created.



13 Feb

The Superbowl is the one time a year when people actually look forward to the commercials.  As a designer, or a producer, your goal is to create a commercial that will stick in the viewers heads.  Not a very simple task considering everyone’s likes and dislikes are different.  It seems like the commercial that became the buzz of the town this year was the  Volkswagen Darth Vader Kid.  Everyone was talking about how cute and funny it was, including myself.  But was it really the most successful commercial?  Everyone remembered the commercial, but very few people actually remembered who the commercial was for.

A successful commercial concept not only makes the commercial memorable, but also the company.  Isn’t that the point of a commercial?  Get the consumers to know and love the company, not just the commercial.  This is why I found the Bud Light Product Placement commercial to be the most successful.  The concept was clever and humorous, like the Darth Vader Commercial, but there was no forgetting what company the commercial was for because their logo was everywhere!  That is what I call a successful commercial.


Don’t Keep It to Yourself

08 Feb

The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom.”  -Jon Stewart

As a student sitting in class the power is in your hands.  You have a professor and the tools to learn or you can zone out and do whatever you want.  As a student surfing the web the ball is once again in your court.  The Internet can be all fun and games, a brain-numbing web of senselessness, where the absurd become instantly famous.  However, like a classroom, if used to it’s full potential, the Internet can be a great source of education.

It is a resource where you can instantly be inspired by the work of others or receive critiques from others viewing your work.  Either way the speed of the response and the volume of viewers that can be reached makes the Internet a perfect setting to clear your brain and test your ideas.


I’ll Tell You Why!

08 Feb

Practice safe design: Use a concept.” — Petrula Vrontikis

As a fresh mind right out of college I am not yet tainted by the frustrations of a design career.  I know only the simplicity of creating a design rather than the strain that conceiving a concept can create.  I am educated as a designer, as anyone can be, but I am learning every day through my experiences how to conceptualize the intended meaning behind a design.

When creating a graphic design project you can use all of the new techniques and pretty pictures you would like.   The design still will not work if it has no meaning behind it.  All the tools and tutorials available will give you the skills but they will not make you a designer.

So What Am I Doing?

My blog is primarily for myself and other designers, but it is not to teach other designers things that they do not know.  It is to look at the thought process behind my designs, as well as the designs of others, and analyze what is successful about it and what is not.  What does the typical viewer see when looking at the design compared to a designer?  Does the intended message come across? If so, how? If not, why not?


Posted in Responses


Everyone’s Entitled to Their Own Opinions

07 Feb

“The moment you start to deny something is the moment you should start paying attention, because there is probably a truth you don’t want to acknowledge staring you in the face.” – Robert Kalm

The special effects and graphic design projects created by motion graphics professionals are amazing to watch.  It is incredible what an experienced designer can create with the right skills, tools, and concepts.  It takes years to understand design, a continuing effort to master the ever-changing programs, and possibly an eternity to come up with a successful idea.

I am a recent college graduate with only a Bachelors degree in Interactive Digital Design, a few years freelance, and practically no full-time experience as a designer.  I can easily be seen as inexperienced and thus my blog an unreliable read for other graphic designers.  My blog is aimed towards graphic designers because they will understand the steps I discuss.  There is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into creating a design before anything begins to even take shape.  It is unlikely that those outside of the industry would connect with, or enjoy my blog which takes a look at this process.  The final projects created by graphic designers are intriguing to watch, but the steps taken to get to that final project are often confusing or boring to outsiders.

In the technology driven world we live in is it even worth paying for a graphic designer when do-it-yourself editing is so readily available?  How is 30 seconds worth of material or a single design equivalent to the hundreds of dollars a designer is paid to make it?  Especially when companies like Vistaprint are offering pre-designed products and companies like Flickr are making it so easy to edit your photos yourself.  Type what you want to create or the program you want to use to create it into Google and you are guaranteed to find a number of free tutorial videos on Youtube or Creative Cow.  With these tools you can easily follow the step-by-step instructions and create a project on your own.

It seems like there is no need to hiring a designer these days, and even less of a reason to hire an inexperienced designer such as myself.  Most career designers have more experience than me and would not need to read my blog when there are blogs available to read from much more experienced designers.  So why would you want read a blog about a field that these days almost anyone can do from someone who is relatively new to the field as well?

Well why not?!smiley-face


Posted in Responses


A Cover Letter That Says it All

06 Feb

This is a sample copy of the generic cover letter I created and tweak for each position that I apply.

Dear Sir or Madam:

If you are looking for a designer who can take your projects from concept to creation with enthusiasm and skill then I am the designer for you.  My name is Alicia Chouinard.  I am a Quinnipiac University graduate with a Bachelors degree in Interactive Digital Design, credits obtained towards a Masters Degree in Interactive Communications, and experience in a variety of design fields.  Design is not only a career for me but also a passion, and although I have a deep love for motion graphics and editing, I am very well rounded and am continuously improving my skills in all areas.

I am a very responsible and committed hard worker as demonstrated through my college career where I graduated Magna Cum Laude while participating in a Division 1 college sport and working two jobs. Every one of my past coaches has selected me as a captain for my team because I always give one hundred and ten percent.  As a result of this team experience I work very well with others, but I can also handle the pressure and responsibility of a leadership role or projects on my own.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration. The (position) at (company) sounds like a creative position that I would both love and excel at. I know that I will be a great asset to the company and I would love to meet with you to discuss a future within (company).  I have attached my resume and my portfolio site can be viewed at  I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Alicia Chouinard


Keep It Simple Stupid

31 Jan

“Simplicity is difficult.”Lisa M. Nichols

Whether it is writing a paper, creating a design, or following directions, just because something is simple does not mean it is easy.  I have sat in front of a computer for hours just trying to come up with a concept before even starting the “hard part” of designing something.

The difficulty is often created by our pride and our egos that have been trained to believe figuring things out on our own and creating something brilliant makes you stand out above the rest.  In reality it tends to be the simplistic pieces that are deemed “brilliant”, but to create these pieces we first have to eliminate all the extras and just go with the bare essentials.

The piece that has stood out most in my portfolio has the simplest concept and design out of all my work.  I took the poem that was given to me, which was very repetitive, got down to the bare bones of the writing and created a piece that expressed what was being said.  The simplicity of it all is what makes it.

Screen shot 2011-01-31 at 9.27.48 PM