The consumer packaged goods industry has a secret: there are a range of underexplored career options available to students studying graphic design.
“It’s a field that a lot of students do not go into,” says Donna Saccutelli, graphic design professor at Seneca College. “There are jobs in labeling systems, in printing companies. Every design firm has general packaging work and I would definitely say it is a burgeoning field.”
She says this profession has always flourished but now even more so because of the heightened necessity of inclusiveness and accessibility. There is constant need to create packages that are more inclusive and accessible.
“Our students have to learn about the process of packaging and understand the value of design, and understand what the manufacturer, marketer, and distributer’s positions are. As designers, we have to know and be on top of materials, innovations, and expertise in manufacturing.”
There are design degrees at Sheridan College, York University, and OCAD, among others. Seneca College has a three-year diploma in Graphic Design. The credits of the diploma are eligible for transfer to North American universities such as University at Buffalo, Concordia, Griffith, York, Athabasca, and Royal Roads universities.
“It has a field placement component which is what often draws students to the program, because we have a host of great companies that work and ask to work with us,” says Saccutelli.
She explains that the art of designing eye-catching product packages begins with a strong skill in visual fundamentals for layout and typography to understand hierarchy of information and understanding design thinking. Students are taught what it means to create a package design that provides the consumer with clear and specific information. Students are taught to create structure and keep in mind branding requirements by the company. They’re taught to cultivate skills in design that reveal the cultural value of the market.
“There’s a way we integrate our courses; we have a branding component and we have a marketing component that feeds into the packaging class even though it is the primary class that sets off this integration,” says Saccutelli.
What strengthens this program is that students are taught to take into account issues surrounding inclusiveness and invisible disabilities. Even sustainable packaging is stressed as a new, prevalent issue.
Saccutelli, who is a veteran in the field of graphic design and is currently a candidate of Masters in Inclusive Design and Accessibility at OCAD, advises students to brush up on their interpersonal skills and “realizing what your customer wants, tailoring your final portfolio to meet the style of the studio or advertising agency you’re going to. Have a portfolio that is current and possibly digital and print, and set out your own personal design thesis for yourself.”
She mentions firms like Davis and Company and Shikatani Lacroix where Seneca students have found jobs after graduating from the program. She is optimistic that once students realize the potential in the field, they can easily find work with companies such as Post Foods Canada, Kellogg’s, container companies, and dieline companies.
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