Xand Griffin here again, and my internship at Neiman is awesome. Now that the semester’s end is near, let me tell you about some of the things I got wrong. This post is going to be a long winded one, but everyone who’s an art director should know these things.The three major things you should have before starting an art direction internship are comping skills, program skills, and optimism.

To be an art director, you have to be able to express your idea visually. Now, in my experience as an art direction intern, you have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is helping to express the art director’s ideas. You do this two ways comping physical ads and putting ads into layout.

Comping means to put things together. This includes knowing how to use an exacto knife properly, using spray mount adhesive, and how to use a bone folder. Only one class I took with Kathy Mueller taught me how to comp and these were extremely important skills to have. My first solo project at Neiman was to create a greeting card for one of our clients. I convinced myself having multiple parts to the card would be cool. And so it took me two weeks to make. I don’t have a steady hand at all. So it would be finished, my last cut, and then I’d mess it up. It’s impressive when you can make things happen in real life. Do it, and practice it. You should also practice your programs. All day, every day.

Knowing all three programs is essential to Advertising. The three we use constantly here are Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. You need to know how to flip through all of these with ease so that you can be most efficient. Before this internship, my design family consisted of Photoshop, the sister I do everything with, InDesign, the cousin I saw once in a while, and Illustrator, the black sheep of the family whom we don’t like to talk about.

But alas, I had to vector a logo. The only way to vector an existing logo is by tracing it in Illustrator with the pen tool so that it can be scaled up and down without losing image quality. So I had to learn real fast to get along with all of my design family. My entirety of my college career I’ve been using the wrong programs to do things. I found out I liked hanging out with Photoshop, so I would do all of my work with it.

Now using Photoshop is awesome, but I would create logos and brochures in it. Which is absolutely wrong. Illustrator is for logos and any graphic that will need to be flexible for sizing. InDesign is for brochures and any documents that are going to be printed out. Honestly, when I went into my interview, I thought I knew what I was doing in the programs. I knew Photoshop, and I knew how to do everything I wanted to do in it. But I did it wrong.

In Advertising, you need to prepare files to be produced or printed. Designing everything in Photoshop is doable, but PSD files are huge. They aren’t easily emailed, which was another of my mistakes in my internship. I was to put names for a company on a desk. Which I could’ve easily created one small, easily manageable, easily doable document inside InDesign – I decided to create separate Photoshop files for each of the 32 names.  Unmanageable, unorganized, and unusable.

Keep in mind during your internships, that most of the time some else is going to have to use your file, and you need to get it to them somehow. PSD files are huge whereas InDesign and Illustrator are tiny. Get comfortable with all three programs. Take all of the computer program special topics available, especially if it is with Kathy Mueller.

Not knowing how to comp well and not knowing the programs led to the beginning of my internship being a very frustrated intern. I never showed it though, and always looked on the bright side. I was doing an important job, no matter how small, and looking happy doing it makes people take notice of you. Make mistakes, that’s what you are there for. You have to learn somehow and when you are an intern, there are tons of people to turn to and ask for help. Do it.

So, it’s nearing the end of my internship. They’ve asked me to stay on past the semester already. So I must be doing something right.