After Appetizers: Recent Digital Design Grads Look Back


Appetizers! Food, drink, and delicious bites of design. Now, doesn’t that sounds like a good reason to ditch the office for a couple of hours? Especially if it means first dibs on some of the hottest young designers in the city.

Back in April, many of Vancouver’s top design creatives and recruiters gathered at VFS for the Digital Design program’s first “Appetizers” graduate showcase. These three-minute, rapid-fire presentations generated a talent feeding frenzy during the mingler that followed.

We recently got in touch with a handful of the graduates to look back at the results of this one-of-a-kind industry night.

Christopher Harrell

Since graduating, Christopher Harrell has worked on freelance projects up and down the West Coast, including California, Washington, and here in Vancouver. Christopher used his three-minute Appetizer presentation to screen his SXSW-nominated title sequence Ladybird. “The Appetizers night was instrumental in exposing me to industry people and giving me the confidence to pursue contracts,” he says. “Working contracts with various companies the past few months has really shown me how much the VFS experience has prepared me for the industry.”

Watch Ladybird
Read more about Ladybird

Shawn Hight

Shawn Hight’s presentation of his branding project Switch practically triggered a bidding war, with attendees lining up to meet him. When asked to provide advice to the next class of graduates, he puts it simply: “Find a job for the right reasons. Choose the people you work with rather than them choosing you.” Shawn’s choice? A contract with Fjord Interactive/Cossette, then a full-time motion design position with Giant Ant Media.

Watch Switch Montage

Simon Vieira

Simon Vieira also has advice for future graduates: “Take full advantage of all the exposure VFS creates with our industry.” He’s speaking from experience. After presenting his project Diligo at the April Appetizers, Simon faced the difficult task of deciding between two tempting job offers, one from Blitzoo Games, Inc. and another from a much larger firm. Ultimately, he joined Blitzoo as a graphic/interface designer, looking for the energy and unique creative opportunities you can find on a smaller team.

Read more about Diligo


Presenting Design Differently

Presentation matters, and that’s what makes Appetizers different. Attendees praised the back-to-back short presentation format, an approach that gave insight into each designer’s work without being weighed down with process. The short length also allowed students to get the better of their nerves and really perfect their pitches.

One of the standout presentations – a fictional youth-oriented sub-brand of TED called TEDcue – sparkled both as a project and as an introduction to its designer, Joshua Michie. It was Jon Maltby who brought Joshua onto the team at Blast Radius after seeing his presentation. “Joshua’s impressive output of quality motion work during his studies at VFS stood out for us,” says Maltby, who has since moved on to the role of Creative Director at Lululemon. “His presentation of the work in his portfolio really sold us not only on his technical and artistic skills, but on his thinking and process as well, which we very much value.” (Check out a PDF of Joshua’s TEDcue brand case study right here.)

The inaugural Appetizers event was a success for students and industry attendees alike. With results like these, we’d be crazy not to offer seconds. The next Appetizers event is set for the end of August, with an even bigger audience and more career-launching moments. Stay tuned!

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