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I Saw Design and It Opened Up My Eyes

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

by Hunter Walker

Hello! My name is Hunter Walker, and I have been a Graphic Designer at Mansell Media for over a year now. I am actually attending classes at Mississippi College right now, but I wanted to tell the story about how I came to the conclusion that I wanted to pursue Graphic Design as my career.

Before I became the amazing designer I am today (pause for laughter), I was just a slacker college kid. I didn’t decide on Graphic Design as a major until right before I graduated high school. Up until that point, I considered History, Film, Architecture, and much more. It wasn’t until my mother, who majored in Graphic Design at a community college, exclaimed, “Don’t any of my children want to be designers?” I decided to bite the bullet and take my meager knowledge of the subject to the University of Southern Mississippi. I figured it’d be easy enough. Just draw a bunch of stuff, learn the software, then kick my feet up and get a nice, cushy job that pays me to color.

Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Early on, I realized how invested I would need to be in this course of study to truly do well as a Graphic Designer. I discovered that so much of my time was going to need to be devoted to memorizing structure of forms, color theory, value, psychology of shapes, and so much more before I even THOUGHT about going near a computer. It was sink or swim and I would like to say that I swam like a dolphin!

I’d LIKE to say that, but it isn’t true.

I was a less than diligent student. My design briefs for each project were haphazardly thrust into my backpack the minute I left class – rarely ever to be seen again. I spent my nights hanging out with friends, going to movies, playing Frisbee, all the fun parts of college without much effort put into my studies.

I really started to feel overwhelmed my sophomore year. We had been told at the beginning that there would be a portfolio review that would dictate whether we moved on in the Graphic Design courses. If not, we had to pick another major and kiss our hopes and dreams goodbye…maybe that’s a bit dramatic but that was how it was suggested. At the start I had brushed this review off. I thought, “There’s no way I’m not getting in, I am better than a bunch of these wannabes.” Then, the time came nearer and the stress and fear took over. I printed a junky portfolio on junky paper that I stapled and handed in. Then, I waited.

Finally, I had my private interview to discuss my portfolio review. This is where all your design teachers gather you into one small office and tell you whether you are going to have to derail your entire career path or not. This is where I discovered I was not cut out to be a Graphic Designer.

That hit me hard.

I tried to stay and major in Art, but I was never very good at it. Not the way they wanted me to be. So, in the beginning of my Senior year, I quit. I got a full time job working as a Graphic Designer at a screen printer where I had plenty of time to sulk about how unfairly I was treated at that school.

Then, I grew up. I realized it was all my fault. I wasn’t taking this seriously and they were right to kick me out of the program. If I had been allowed to finish and graduate with the awful work I did in those classes, it would have not only de-valued the department and school, but it would have launched me into a harsh world full of competitive and awesome designers. I would have been eaten up out here!

I came to the conclusion that I wanted to give it a second go. I started researching design styles and watching any tutorial I could get my hands on. I doubled my designing speed and quadrupled my arsenal of design skills. That sounds like a lot, but I was basically starting at the bottom. In one year I felt prepared to enter into this course of study once more.

So, I left my job, left Hattiesburg, and moved back in with the ‘rents.

I began my first courses at Mississippi College in the Spring after that, with a lot of pushing by my fiancé who also studied Graphic Design at MC. I started absorbing everything I could get my eyes on that had to do with design, and I got this job at Mansell Media.

I will soon be graduating and I feel more than ready to take on the big dogs in Graphic Design. I have produced a lot of work that holds up in the community, and I never stop producing. You should never give up on pursuing something that is really important to you but don’t brush off criticism – Learn from it and grow from it.

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