#Saternday w/ KK Palmerino, Graphic Design Intern @ Bear Notch
#Saternday w/ KK Palmerino, Graphic Design Intern @ Bear Notch
Author: Ben Libby, Chief Creative Officer, Bear Notch
Contributing: KK Palmerino, Graphic Design Intern, Bear Notch
Ever since we hired our interns for an educational advertising experience, a new hashtag unsheathed from within the bear den of Bear Notch, we call this #Saternday, Saturday + Interns. Kevin Walker and KK Palmerino joins us every Saturday at 10AM in our office to discuss the latest trends, crafting the best designs, learning about marketing, and all things creative. This month Bear Notch has the exclusive privilege of interviewing our graphic design intern and future brand manager, KK Palmerino. Come on down, KK!
[Bear Notch]: This will be the first time we interview one of our own members, in fact, our first design intern! Hello KK Palmerino! Tell us about yourself, where did you grow up, attend college, give us all those juicy facts?
[KK Palmerino]: Hey everyone! I am a recent Endicott College graduate with a BFA in Graphic Design and I grew up right outside of Albany, NY. I loved being in the North Shore so I started looking for design positions in the area and was lucky enough to find Bear Notch! I am really excited to be on the team and work on some really cool projects.
[BN]: Resume legend has it that you were once into culinary arts & baking / pastry. Tell us that story? Do you still throw frying pans at home and threaten fellow cooks in the kitchen with sharp butcher knives and meat pounders?
[KK]: I LOVE food. Growing up I was never afraid to try new things and eventually I began to cook more for myself and experiment with recipes. I always had an interest in design so I thought that cooking/baking would be a great opportunity to combine the two. Although I never ended up going to culinary school, I am still a #foodie at heart.
[BN]: There are many career interests out in the world these days, what made you become interested in design, branding, typography and layout?
[KK]: I have always been a creative person but it wasn’t until my Ad Agency class in high school (shoutout Mrs. Jones) where I discovered my interest in graphic design. This was my introduction to Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and I soon realized that this was what I wanted to pursue. Throughout college I learned a lot about the strategy and decision making behind branding, typography, and iconography which allowed me to explore each of those further with my future work.
[BN]: Can you name the top 3 most challenging aspects of graphic design? What are your solutions to them?
[KK]: Staying on top of or ahead of design trends is something that always remains as a challenge for me. It is important to be aware of what is and isn’t currently working in the field in order to keep your audience engaged and interested. I have found that following other designers on social media, reading articles/books on current trends as well as talking with other designers has helped tremendously. Also, I believe that finding a balance between creating new, unique content while also staying true to design fundamentals can be tricky. Although you want your work to stand out among existing designs, you must also consider the foundation of design that has been used successfully for decades by countless designers. Finally, one of the biggest challenges in my mind is coming to the realization that you can’t please everyone. This was tough for me to accept because as a designer I thought the goal was to constantly reach anyone and everyone with my designs. But, through experience I realized that you must carefully consider who your designs are being made for and what content you are going to present to them. It’s more about understanding your audience and using that information to strategically and accurately create impactful designs.
[BN]: When a company or client requires an “out-of-the-box” design solution, what does this mean to you, and what’s your process?
[KK]: Although I may use previous designs as reference, my goal would be to give them something they, or anyone else has never seen before. I enjoy getting these type of projects because it allows me to experiment with different design elements that create unique solutions for clients. I find that the more variety of brainstorming and research that I do (sketches, digital, photography, word maps) the more unique and “out of the box” my solutions are. Sometimes I feel that as a graphic designer I tend to get stuck in my computer and I have found that trying other methods of design development have been successful in the past.
[BN]: There are many influential design influencers in the world, can you tell us your absolute favorite designer and what inspires you most? Please leave one of their quotes here as well.
[KK]: I have always been a huge fan of Andy Warhol every since I started studying design. His philosophy and approach to design is so experimental and unique that I have found it a great source of inspiration. One of my favorite quotes from him is “Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”
[BN]: There are also many design, creative, and brand agencies out in the world, can you tell us your absolute favorite one, and give us the 5Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why, How)?
[KK]: Pentagram. Pentagram. Pentagram. I studied this agency, and specifically Paula Scher, for my senior thesis project and I fell in love with all of their designs. Learning about their process for each project and the phenomenal design solutions they create are an amazing source of inspiration and information that any designer can apply to any project of their own. The variety of design fields they have worked in is extremely impressive and I am always excited to see some of their new work.
[BN]: As a member of the younger generation, what’s most important to consumers, clients, and customers of the iGen / Gen Z when it comes to design, looks, color? Do you think there are trends of design and advertising since the 1960s? (Think Madmen to current)
[KK]: Simplicity is our best friend. With the amount of time the younger generation spends on technology and social media, clarity and speed is everything. The quicker we can navigate a website, app, or social media page, the better. A strong brand and clean website for a variety of companies can make all the difference for the users experience. In fact I remember when I was looking for colleges as well as jobs, my first impression was their website. If it was messy, hard to navigate, and lacked structure, I moved on to the next.
[BN]: What made you most excited when reaching out to Bear Notch? Internships can be a very selective process, in addition, could be a total positive or negative experience, considering most are unpaid. What are your thoughts?
[KK]: After first looking through the website, I was not only impressed with previous work but was also interested and intrigued by their type of agency life. I knew I wanted to work in a smaller agency and felt that this newer company would be a great fit. After meeting and talking with the team, I knew this was the type of environment I would love working in. I have completed multiple internships through the past few years and have been lucky enough to have gained a lot of beneficial experience through all of them. I understand that not all internships can be perfect, but I think the most important thing is realizing that each one can provide you with information about what you do/don’t want to pursue in your future.
[BN]: Do you think grabbing coffees and running lunches inside of a company is still an important aspect of internships within a company?
[KK]: I believe if the intern is getting coffee or lunch for their coworkers, it should only be out of the kindness of their own hearts. If you’re lucky enough to be at an internship where your team can also feel like your friends and family, there’s nothing wrong with treating them to a snack every once in a while.
[BN]: How do you get your daily design inspiration? What’s your usual go-to? What makes you a good graphic designer, and what are your strengths and weaknesses?
[KK]: Lately Instagram has been my go-to spot for design inspiration. There’s a lot to explore and I find myself coming across content that I can relate to current projects. As a designer, I find that I struggle the most with is committing to a few design solutions too early in the design process. I find that when I experiment more and create more variations, I find a more successful solution to my design problem. I continuously try to push myself more in this aspect but still have a lot of work to do. I do believe that my work ethic, communication skills, and dedication to each of my projects are a few of my biggest strengths. It is important to be invested in your work but also be able to communicate successfully with clients and deliver effective and efficient design work.
[BN]: Knowledge Test! When it comes to defining a brand and their identity, what are the most crucial first steps? Do you have a process? And does this differ in an agency setting, like ourselves?
[KK]: Brand mission/vision, target audience, and competitor analysis I find are some of the most important first steps to creating a brand identity. If you are unaware of what the brand is currently accomplishing and trying to accomplish, as well as who they are targeting, you do not have a foundation to go off of. It is almost just as important to know what you’re competition is doing as well. In comparison to your competition, you want to be something unique and attract your audience away from them and towards your brand. When creating or defining a brand identity, I normally gather all existing material from the brand, evaluate their audience, position them amongst their competitors, and begin to develop an identity that accurately defines their brand.
[BN]: From college to companies, do you think being in a group setting is important during the think tank and conceptual stage? Thoughts on receiving and giving constructive criticism?
[KK]: Absolutely! I find that I thrive in a group setting whether that is in person or over group chat. The more minds and concepts you can contribute to the brainstorming process, the better. You never know what solutions and ideas your team may come up with when you are in a big group discussion. Criticism is necessary in design, both good and bad. I believe it is the only way that you will find the right solution to your design problem. As designers, we are constantly learning and getting better at what we do, and that wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t receive any responses from our peers.
[BN]: Should graphic designers hold knowledge in photography, editing, and video? Do you have a camera?
[KK]: 100%. Photography, video, and editing are all very important aspects to design and information about each of them can be very helpful to a designer. I used to have a camera until it got stolen. Unfortunately I have not replaced it:(
[BN]: Can you tell us a few mistakes you’ve made along the path of becoming a graphic designer? Some designers will be stubborn and never admit their faults, do you think it’s important to show your boss or client that you made mistakes and will correct them?
[KK]: No one is perfect and accountability is everything. I was once working on a project with a client and after countless talks, I still wasn’t quite sure the desired outcome of the project. I felt as if I had asked too many questions as is so I decided to go ahead with what I thought was right. Turns out the work I was doing was completely opposite of what the client wanted and I had wasted time and effort on something that could have been avoided by simply asking one more question. I had to apologize to the client, who wasn’t pleased with the first round of designs, and explained to him that I wouldn’t be charging him for my wrongdoing. Luckily he understood and he has been a client ever since.
[BN]: *Think boiling water* Have you ever worked under pressure? What about pulling all nighters to get an assignment done?
[KK]: Many projects throughout college had kept me up all night trying to perfect my designs before the deadline. It wasn’t that I waited until the last minute to start projects, but rather my “big idea” would come 24 hours before the deadline and I knew I needed to get it done. Timelines sneak up on you and projects can pile up, but just remain calm and practice good time management and I promise it will all work out in the end.
[BN]: A company boss should be insightful, knowledged, and provide a good experience for their interns and designers, have you ever worked for a complete unprofessional boss?
[KK]: Luckily I have not. Not every boss has been perfect, but who is?
[BN]: Clients can be the same way, have you had a bad experience with a company or client so far? Generally it’s all about control, if they become unruly, we fire them. It’s not uncommon to fire a client if necessary, do you agree?
[KK]: I have not had a bad experience with a client (yet) but I do agree that when necessary, it would not be in the best interest of the company to keep difficult clients. I understand that there will be bumps in the road but when it starts to become a relationship that is hurting the company more than helping it, tough decisions may need to be made.
[BN]: What are your 3-5 year goals whether with Bear Notch or as a freelancer?
[KK]: As a designer in general I would love to keep adding to my client profile and take on new and exciting projects. I am excited to be surrounded by such talented people at Bear Notch and hope to learn all fields of a small agency and even expand my design skills to things like animation, video, and UX design.
[BN]: Since June 22nd, you started with Bear Notch, what has been some key takeaways so far from your experience? Have you had fun yet, any memorable experiences? And lastly, we’re attempting to become a fully remote agency without an office space, do you think this is completely doable?
[KK]: So much fun! I have quickly learned about the face paced and sometimes chaotic life in an agency and I love every bit of it. There’s still so much to learn but I am very excited! In regards to the remote agency, I think it is doable with the right team. Certain people thrive in a remote setting so as long as a good balance is found, I can see it being very successful.
For designers everywhere, don’t be afraid to push your limits and experiment with something new. There are so many elements to design to explore and the more you know, the more you can apply to your designs. Keep up with trends, ask questions, and never stop creating something new.
KK Palmerino is one of the newest members of the Bear Notch team and is responsible for the company’s rebrand as well as being the brand manager. She is currently living in the North Shore and recently graduated from Endicott College with a Graphic Design BFA. If she’s not watching Game of Thrones, you can most likely find her cooking, hiking, or eating avocados. She loves to experiment with photography, painting, and typography as well as work with brand identities.
If you’re interested in learning more about KK Palmerino or want to follow her on her social channels: