Q: What did you learn or develop at UArts that you have carried with you throughout your career?
Much of what I learned in my time at UArts has stayed with me and grown over the course of my sixteen-year graphic design career. In both my full-time work and my freelance side work, I have put a huge emphasis on customer service and relationship building, and I have developed a reputation for accepting and delivering quality work on incredibly short deadlines. I can draw lines back to both specific and general experiences I had at UArts that have helped to shape my career.
During my junior year, a professor, having just finished an audible and slightly contentious discussion with a couple of classmates sitting next to me, said to me that one cannot “complain one’s way into an art career.” That comment had an immediate impact on me, but also a lasting one. I often thought about the fact with so many talented artists in the world, and more graduating every year, each of us would need to be able to hustle and to figure out what differentiates us. For me, that differentiator has been my ability to show that I understand their needs, that I care about the results that my work yields for them, that I can take direction graciously and offer recommendations where necessary, that I respect the deadlines they have set, and that I will always make an effort to deliver my best work, even when the job is less than glamorous. The trust that that approach has earned me has continued to yield greater autonomy for me over the years.
The same professor also advised us to always take “jobs that are too big for you,” with the idea that when we are forced to find ways to “make it happen,” we grow. Despite being fairly risk-averse by nature, I have often followed that advice. Each time, I have found ways to work through the uncertainty and panic, and each time, it has proven to be well worth the trouble.
For each of us, the significant experiences and the takeaways are different. Some have an immediate effect on us, while others plant seeds that grow years later. I think the common thread is the ability that a UArts education provides to recognize and build upon those significant experiences. For that, I will remain forever grateful.
Josh Levitas BFA ’00 (Illustration) has spent the last 16 years creating graphics for a wide variety of clients in the corporate and non-profit sectors and in the entertainment industry. Josh is currently a member of the UArts Alumni Council.