10 Questions for our alumni
Ross Tanner, BFA, Graphic Design, 2015
1. Why did you choose to attend Grand Valley?
I chose to attend Grand Valley after attending Calvin College for 3 semesters studying architecture. After realizing that wasn't the best fit, I was looking for a school that was local, had programs relating to my interests (business & graphic design), and was affordable.
2. How or why did you choose your major or main emphasis area?
I had always been interested in graphic design and had always kept up a small trickle of freelance work. When I realized that architecture was not right for me, graphic design seemed like a natural progression from that as it incorporated several of my interests.
3. What advice do you have for future students thinking about colleges?
My advice is to be aware of the burden of debt. It is far greater than any high school student going into college can comprehend. If you do decide to take on that burden, be sure to work hard and take advantage of all the school has to offer. Learn how to learn, so that your investment can keep growing after you leave. If you don't, you'll end up graduating with a mountain of debt and nothing to show for it.
4. What advice do you have for current students thinking about careers?
Be memorable. Show up. Be on the fore front of that future employer's mind. Volunteer... a lot. Start to make yourself recognizable to the local professional community. Don't just talk business, have a human to human conversation.
5. What did you do after graduating?
After graduating my number one focus was to land a full-time job before the grace period on my loans expired. I ended up taking a job as a graphic design at a local CGI production company. I met some of my current best friends there. Ultimately though, it was not a great working environment so I left to go full-time freelance with my then-girlfriend, now wife.
6. What are you doing now?
Now I own and operate my own creative studio, Studio Us, with my wife. We are a multi-disciplinary design studio aiming to do good work for good people.
7. How have you used the skills you developed in your field of study in your life and/or career after GVSU?
Grand Valley taught me the work ethic, eye-to-see and motivation to never stop learning. These things are invaluable and will never be obsolete. I can now teach myself new tools as they come and go, but without that foundational knowledge, the tools would be useless (and probably do more damage than good, to be honest).
8. What is the best advice you got from an instructor at Grand Valley?
Don't be an a**hole. (seriously, more than one prof reiterated that)
9. What is your favorite memory of being a student at Grand Valley?
When I started the rumor that Renee Zettle-Sterling would take your maquettes and stomp on them if they weren't good. (Its a true story by the way, if anyone asks).
10. Anything else you would like to share with our Visual and Media Arts Community?
I wouldn't be running a successful business today had it not been for the support and encouragement received from the wonderful faculty at Grand Valley.
Image credit by Ross Tanner. You can see more of Ross' work online at https://www.studio-us.com/.
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