Long before I ever knew there was a Marietta College, I knew I wanted to be a graphic designer. I’m sitting at my desk in my office at FITCH in downtown Columbus — where I also operate my own design studio, House of Helga — and I’m thinking about how I got to where I am today. I know I’m young and relatively new to the professional world, but I have two great careers.
I can say with certainty that everything I experienced at Marietta College is what made me the designer that I am today. There were so many moments that contributed to my current success — and most of them involved the faculty. I had a professor who regularly stayed late after a night class to help me work on projects even though she had already worked her day job and taught afterward. I had professors sit with me to discuss potential career directions and review what courses to take even though they weren’t my advisor. They did it because they honestly cared about my development and my future.
One moment that really stands out in my memory happened during the start of my junior year, when my design professor, Sara Alway-Rosenstock, gave me my first freelance job. Though this job was something she would normally do herself, her schedule was booked, and she wanted to give one of her students the opportunity for real-world graphic design experience.
I remember being so excited, not only at my first chance to work with a real-world client, but because Sara had seen something in me to give me this job. The assignment was to create a logo for the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra of Parkersburg. I had to develop multiple options and present them to their board. Admittedly, I was nervous.
Sara didn’t just give me the job and leave me hanging. She took time out of her busy schedule to teach me how to write a design contract. She talked to me about pricing as a freelance designer and showed me how to communicate and present to a client. She reviewed my sketches and concepts, and helped me develop a creative direction and craft my working process. All of these things may seem so simple, but these skills really set me up for how I continue to work with clients today, and her encouragement made me feel more comfortable and confident in the way I work.
Do I think these experiences happen only at Marietta? Of course not. What I do know is that my Marietta experience far exceeded what I thought my four-year college adventure would be. I have been able to grow that first freelance project from Sara into a steady business of design work ranging from local startup branding to logos for international gaming blogs to packaging design for breweries. I even still use the basic framework of the original contract Sara helped me write.
Every success I have had with my design business, House of Helga, is rooted in that moment and all of the other moments I had in the design department at Marietta College.
Kyla Warfield '13
Kyla is a graphic designer based in Columbus, Ohio. She works for FITCH, one of the world’s leading retail and brand consultancies, and is the founder and creative director of House of Helga, an independent design studio that creates memorable identities for small businesses. Her work can be seen at www.houseohelga.com.
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