As promised, here are the tips for building your grad wall. Mind you these tips only apply for Graphic Design major, but some aspects may be applicable for other majors too. Enjoy!
You can constantly change your grad show templates until last minute. Last minute only applies for minor changes only, like the arrangement of your small projects, not adding or removing a table or podium. That's major. Grad show templates will be given to you from Week 2 (I believe) and things will surely change throughout the next week. Steve will ask you for updates on your templates every two weeks. That's when you can constantly change your mind on the position of your podium and table but NOT until last minute. You will also have some projects added or removed on the layout throughout the weeks.
Always have Plan B: Have an extra project just in case your grad show installation looks too empty in the real scale. Remember, what you see in the real space is different from the 11x17” layout Steve gave out to you. You can always overdo in your template. When you're setting up and you realize that your wall looks way too crowded than what you plan, you can always reorganize and take some less than favorable projects down.
This is optional, but I'd rather decide on the table first then adjust your projects to it. Some people prefer to think about what projects to add to the grad show and how to organize it then choose the table to fit the requirements. If you choose the latter, you might want to see Point 8. There are pros and cons.
HAVING A CUSTOM PRE-MADE TABLE READY:
Pro: It reduces your workload. You don't have to worry about building your table on the the construction days and you just need to focus on other stuff (hanging posters, setting up your printed collaterals, books, computers, TV)
Con: Since it's a pre-made table, they might not meet your standards and preferences. You have to adjust your projects to the existing compartments. Also, a pre-made table may have dents and marks from the previous user.
HAVING TO BUILD YOUR OWN CUSTOM TABLE
Pro: You can build the table to meet your standards and preferences. For example, if you have a packaging project, you might want to attach a platform to your table. If you're a motion/print designer, your table might want to have a good amount of space for the TV to sit on AND a good amount of compartment to display your printed collaterals
Con: Obviously, more workload for you.
Have your projects ready, printed, redone, mounted, etc as early as possible. Prepare a checklist on what you have to do for the grad show. Something like this:
- Hanging sticks
- Hanging wires
- Chains for projector rig
- Pedestal for Packaging 2 Project
- Laser cut name
- Projector Rig
PRINT FOR SELF-IDENTITY
- Business cards
- Collaterals for Type 5 Project
- Collaterals for ID System Project
- 3 24x36” Type 5 Posters
- 3 24x36” ATS Posters
- Editorial Design Magazine
That also includes mounting your projector if you're planning to project something. Don't wait until Week 13-14. You want to focus on working your finals on Week 12-14, not producing your Grad show projects. On Week 14 for your grad show, you want to focus on setting up soon instead of producing your Grad show projects. That will take an extra time on your setting up time.
Get your business cards printed way early! Petrula will recommend the printing to start on Week 11. It takes about two weeks to get your cards done, depending which printer you go to.
Two or more are better than one. Arrange and share Uhaul with your friends to reduce the cost. Share a ladder too if possible. Help each other build tables and podiums prior to the construction days (unless you're planning to use an Art Center table which is accessible starting on the construction day).
DURING CONSTRUCTION DAYS
Obviously, have your tools and equipments ready on the construction days (Example: scissors, dozens of tapes and double-tapes, X-acto knife and blades, matboard, dozens of foamcores, etc). You don't want to spend more time driving up and down the hill to grab them from your place. Bring a gigantic paper bag or to be safe, luggage bag, to store your projects and tools if necessary.
If you're going to use Art Center table, modifying it would be the first thing you want to do by the time the Stage is open for set-up. It will take some time to do it (building, painting, installing).
Have friends and family ready to help you. Don't expect to get full help from fellow grads as they are busy setting up their walls. Although, some people who finished setting up early, would be willing to help you. Some people can handle the installation on their own and that's fine. Some people, like me, can't handle heights and need people to help hang posters (Taller people are better). Don't forget to return the favor. Your friends have spent some time to help you set up. Some friends might be in the middle of finals themselves. So be sure to treat them for lunch or help them with their projects.
When you're finished setting up early, help your friends. Pretty self-explanatory. It wouldn't hurt to help others, would it?
Go big before going small. Set up your posters first. Poster hanging could be time consuming. It could take up from an hour to a few hours. It depends on how good you or your friends are in installing posters. It requires a high amount of craftmanship and requires at least 2 people in the process. If you do it yourself, have a friend on the ground to determine the position of the poster, whether it's tilted, crooked, flat, and if the spacing between one poster and another looks fine. Vice versa. If you're done with the posters, congratulations! The hardest part is done.
Avoid staying over/pulling allnighter at the Stage during the construction days. Some people may have the determination to do so. But trust me, the Stage will be left almost empty at 3 am the latest. It gets too cold in there so you might want to go home, take a good 4 hour sleep, before returning to the Stage in the morning.
Share, share, share. You will spend LOADS of money for building the grad wall itself. Expenses will rise tremendously. So if you have an extra paint, hanging sticks, clips, wires, etc, be sure to share them with your friends who need them. If you have an extra iMac, mouse, keyboard, TV, iPad, that would be helpful too. I borrowed a PC from a relative and that saves me $2,000 from buying an iMac (although of course, you can always return it).
To be honest, you can print your resumes last minute. Again, I wouldn't suggest it but it's totally do-able. Printing resumes would take maximum 10 minutes in the school computer lab and you can do this as you're taking a break from constructing. Unless the laser printers will lose their magic and break down. It will be another story.
If you have editorial pieces or brand book, you might want to make them accessible for people to touch, flip through, and interact with. You can put it on the acrylic top, or if you worry if people will ruin your piece, you can simply put it underneath the case. That's totally up to you.
Same thing for interactive pieces, like website or app designs. This really depends on the circumstance. One of my emphasis is on interactive design but I preferred to play the video of my prototype in loop instead of having a direct interactive prototype. You can still explain the prototype as it plays in loop. Why? Because I was planning to return the iPad I bought (it cost me like $500 and at this point, I was already in short of money). If people interact with my interactive piece on my iPad, they would leave marks on the brand new gadget screen and that would reduce the possibility of having a 100% refund on my iPad.
Have a new acrylic glass top ready for your table-top and peel the wrap off at the very last minute. Most people will have transparent acrylic as the table-top. If you purchase a used grad show table, you might want to remake the acrylic as the old acrylic might not look as shiny or brand new. I used the acrylic that came with the grad show table I purchased from Jess and to be honest, the acrylic didn't look that bad. It did have handprints that were hard to remove no matter how hard I tried to clean it. So it might have been better if you have a brand new acrylic free from handprints and dirts. Peel off the wrap at the very last minute when you have all your printed collaterals set-up on your table compartments before you place the acrylic on top.
Have a good peer support. Don't starve yourself. Chances are, you and your friends will chip in for dinner to be enjoyed and shared with in the Stage while building your grad wall.
Wear comfortable clothing during construction days, especially shoes. You'll be running up and down to the parking lot to grab stuff from your car, if you happen not to get a parking space right in front of the Stage driveway.
Worry about the minor technical stuff in the morning of the Industry Night – after the grad show deadline is passed. Technical stuff involves turning on and navigating your computer to display your work digitally. You want to focus on BUILDING your grad wall before the deadline. That's the hardest part (also you surely don't want to leave the computer on all night). In my experience, when my grad wall was done, I still didn't have my mouse and keyboard. So I couldn't get to access my work digitally on my computer until the morning after – just a couple of minutes before the Industry Night started. I ran to Target to get my needs. It's an easy fix, so worry not.
Make sure you set your video on loop without putting the computer to sleep. Due to some technical issues, I failed to set my video on loop on the Industry Night and it sucked to always stay in my wall the whole time, clicking my mouse to replay the video over and over again. But I solved this issue on the grad show day.
When things go wrong, always have plan B and switch strategy. I have shared to you about the hanging posters that went wrong and unexpected things I encountered in the process. It's always good to do the hardest first before moving to the easier process, but when things go wrong, do what you believe will get things out of the way to save time.
Be Patient. Do things one at a time. Don't rush things and create your working space as comfortable as possible. My friend Rich mounted his posters while watching It's Sunny in Philadelphia projected on the wall. Play your favorite music while working as well.
Be nice to Steve! He's truly an angel in this process!
Last but not least: Have fun in the process! It's the very last thing you will ever do in your Art Center journey so really cherish every single moment of it! Grad show isn't as fearful as it may sound as long as you have a good support system.
Now that your grad wall is done, wish for the best. Get some rest, prepare your energy for the Industry Night, work on your elevator speech, do the Superman pose, and build up your confidence. Do your thing!
So for the graduating class of Fall 2015 and the next semester. Good luck! Just believe in yourself and you'll make yourself through it.
If you are an alumni or if you have any additional tips and advice on the grad show installation, feel free to drop them in the comment section below!
Special thanks to:
- Petrula Vrontikis, Matt Manos, Sean Adams, Steve Kim for the guidance throughout the Portfolio Class.
- The Graduating Class of Summer 2015, especially Rich Kam, Diana Mok, and Vincent Widjaja for the Uhaul and the podium building adventure.
- Jess Muljadi, Kei Yumino, Carolyn To, Ben Ho, and Mona Gabai for generously helping me setting up the grad wall.