Note: This Q&A was conducted while Christian Woltman was the Design Director of Little Jacket. In 2020, he established his own design firm, Reference, for which he serves as Founder, Creative Director and Designer.
Christian Woltman graduated from the School of Visual Communication design in 2011. Woltman is currently a design director at Little Jacket, a brand strategy and design firm with offices in Cleveland and New York.
Q. Describe your role at Little Jacket. What does your daily schedule look like?
CW: Overall my role is directing, designing, and producing. I play multiple roles, and when we have interns and junior designers I’m the one who works through problems with them and gets them going on projects, and offers inspiration. I find that it’s really good to let younger designers have a feel for owning a project. I started off at Little Jacket as an intern. I was one of the only designers here, so I had to learn how to do everything.
Q. What is your favorite part of working at Little Jacket? The most challenging part?
CW: My favorite part is that a small company means lots of collaboration. In school, we spend a lot of time working on our own projects. Here, we put stuff up on the wall and anybody can comment on it. There’s no weird ownership. Being small is also a challenge, because you may have to play a lot of different roles for one project. You learn what you have to learn by being thrown right into the fire.
Q. How did your education in VCD help you in this role now?
CW: I came into graphic design in a weird way. I accidentally came into design, but when I look back on my life I think I knew I always wanted to be a designer, I just didn’t know what graphic design was. Kent got you to always think outside of the box, and never bring just one idea to the table. You were always asked to do variations of the projects, and at a company like Little Jacket (and every company where I’ve worked) you never being one variation to the critique wall, you bring six to 100. So Kent was always really good at pushing you to see things from different perspectives and narrow down your best. That is super important. Everywhere I’ve worked, people bring multiple ideas.
Q. What was your time at Kent like?
CW: I really enjoyed my time at Kent. I was terrible at first. You can print that. I thought after the first year that I was going to get kicked out and not pass sophomore review, but I think that was also the motivation, because I didn’t get it at first. Like why are we drawing circles and squares? I didn’t get it. Then I found a mentor who showed me his projects and showed me why. Make friends with the older designers. I think the older guys have a lot of interesting perspective on things.
Q. What advice would you give to students who are currently in the VCD program?
CW: Do as many things as you can. With internships and any type of opportunity you can find, you should do as much as you can. I hate that there are unpaid internships, but if you have to, crash on a relative’s couch for a few months and take it. Students should always follow as many opportunities as they can…. It’s hard to do, but you just have to figure out a way.
Q. Any other advice?
CW: Contact your design heroes. Networking is really important. One thing that happens in school, especially design school, is that you have the tendency to just lock yourself away and make things. Students should try to partner up. Don’t make the classroom the only critique. Spend a couple evenings a week designing with friends. Go out and not talk about the design, too. Go out, and try to be a normal person. Design school kind of makes you lock yourself away in a room, but students have to remember that they’re working on things that affect the outside world, so they need to go out and experience things to inform their design.
By: Anna Hoffman