Name: Klara Blazek
Hometown: Livingston, NJ
Major(s)/Minors(s): Art & Art History Major, Marketing Minor
Graduation Year: 2016
You started as an Open Options student at TCNJ. How did you find your way to becoming a Graphic Design major?
Coming in as a freshman I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do, so I came in Open Options. I took a graphic design course my senior year of high school and I enjoyed it, so I decided that if I was leaning towards it, I should just go for it. Now that I am extremely passionate about the subject and have all these big career dreams, I realize that when I chose my major, I had no idea what graphic design even meant.
How did you discover your passion for graphic design?
My passion for design started with my art foundation courses, before I took any graphic design classes. In 3-D design, I had to build all these crazy cardboard boxes and then in Color Theory I got to explore color and its properties through creative projects. The projects were nothing like anything I had done before and I loved the creativity. The professors really push you to have a concept behind your ideas and work, and I found that fascinating. Learning about the design process truly spiked my interest. It’s more than the execution—it’s coming up with the idea and problem solving. I got a lot more into design after I was taught that.
What do you want to do when you graduate?
My dream job is to be a creative director at some sort of design firm in NYC. I read a statistic recently, on a blog by the highly prominent designer Jessica Walsh, that only 3% of creative directors are women. This inspired me even more to push towards my goal. Now I feel like I have to become the one who is calling the shots, coming up with the concepts, and then having a team to work with.
Why did you decide to minor in Marketing?
I actually first started off with an IMM minor, because web design and development is a growing field right now. I took one class and I wasn’t completely feeling it. At the same time, I was trying to plan my study abroad semester and IMM is not a minor that I could study abroad with, since my major already made it very difficult to do so. I started looking at marketing and it goes hand-in-hand with graphic design, especially if I want to go into advertising, or something like that. Branding in general has a lot to do with marketing, so I think that it’s a good match. Especially if I want to go to a design firm, I’ll be working with marketing people.
Tell us about your study abroad experience?
I went to Vienna, Austria. I didn’t have a specific country that I wanted to go to, but I wanted to go someplace where I couldn’t speak the language, and somewhere in Europe where I could easily travel from. I really loved it in Vienna. It’s such a beautiful city and there’s so much history. I love history, so being in a city surrounded by it was a fantastic experience.
What was a highlight of your study abroad experience?
One of my favorite memories from my time abroad was an art history class I took, where every week we had class in the Kunsthistorisches Museum. There were only five people in my class, so we would stand around a famous painting in the museum and my professor would lecture right in front of it. I would never be able to get this experience anywhere else, and I’m so grateful that I was able do so. Even though the Art History classes here at TCNJ are fantastic, you can’t compare it to having class in a beautiful old historic museum.
Tell us about your Meredith Corporation internship.
My goal last summer was to get an internship in New York City at an established company, so I could get the right connections for a full time job in the city. I came across Meredith by looking at different design job boards, and I didn’t realize it was magazine company until I heard back from them for the interview. My interview process was a pretty funny coincidence actually. I have on my resume that I speak Czech and I always joked that it would never actually help me because it’s such an obscure language. But when I was contacted for an interview, there was a P.S. at the end of the email that said, “I also speak Czech,” written in Czech. In turned out that the Art Director at Meredith was from Czech Republic!
What type of work did you do at your internship?
I had a really great time when I was there. There are two sides of magazines, the marketing side and the editorial side. I worked in the art department on the marketing side for The Food Group, which included All Recipes, Rachel Ray, Eating Well, etc. I got to work on all of those brands, doing in-book pages as well as internal materials. My Art Director and Creative Director were fantastic and they let me do a lot. They would encourage me to try different things and to redesign certain key materials. Having their direction made me see what it’s like to work under people, because at some of my other internships, I was the sole designer making all the decisions. At Meredith, I would do something and show my art director. He would be very particular, suggesting I play around with scale to make my work more dynamic and other specific changes, which helped my overall design skills. It was a really pleasant internship. By being there, I decided that I don’t want to go into magazines, but it was definitely a great experience regardless.
You’ve studied abroad, had several impressive internships, are a Graphic Design major with a minor in Marketing, you’re involved in various organizations around campus, and you’ve repeatedly made the Dean’s List. How do you do it all?
Honestly, what helps is that I have a strong support system. I think that, beyond all, is what has really helped. I have lived with fantastic girls, and the fact that I have always been able to go back to my room and feel comfortable, has alleviated a lot of stress. It makes a big difference. I also have a tight group of friends within my art classes, which also helps. Our classes are 6 hour-long studios, which is not easy to get through by yourself. Even while working on projects outside of class, being able to ask my friends to look at my work and give me some critiques has helped me tremendously. Finally, my family and boyfriend have always been very supportive of me and my decisions. Having all these supports encourages me to do more, and it has definitely played a strong role in why I have been able to push myself to do a lot.
Do you have an advice for other students coming in as Open Options?
You’ll find your way. Four years ago I was a totally different person. Make sure you do a lot of research on your future major, and if there’s something you have a feeling you’d like to do, really pursue it. I wish I had found out more about graphic design before college, because it is so much more than what I assumed it was. I feel like—especially in high school—you have a limited view of what jobs exist. You can be a teacher, doctor, and other standard professions. I didn’t even know what marketing was until I was here because business sounded so scary and corporate, and as someone who is more of a creative, that didn’t sound like something I wanted to do. I never would have thought if you had asked me six years ago, that I’d be minoring in business now. I think that really doing your research will help you find what you’re interested in.
What is your favorite TV show?
What are your hobbies?
Traveling, going to art museums and concerts, and listening to indie music.
What’s your favorite hangout spot on campus?
The senior graphic design room in the art building.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Teleportation so I could travel the world.