Any student in the Kent State University School of Visual Communication Design (VCD) will tell you that the program is hard-earned from day one, and the professors expect nothing shy of your best effort. Robin Whittington, VCD alumna and owner of Little Birdie Branding, is no exception.
“We did our best work because we were scared to death,” she recalled through laughter. “So, from the beginning, I was really tough on my work and the quality of work that I and the people around me do.”
Each student has his or her own reasons for choosing Kent State. When it came time for Robin to determine her own plans for university, she made her decision in typical teenage fashion: “I followed a boy,” she sighed.
“I was between Ohio State, Cincinnati and Kent State. I made a stupid 17-year-old decision, and it didn't work out [between us]. Luckily, Kent State ended up being the right choice regardless. I loved the campus, and I loved the attitude,” Whittington said. “It just fit from the very beginning.”
Whittington hit her stride in Kent State’s VCD program and doors opened up for her. It was here that Robin discovered her passion for graphic design; she even received a jumpstart to her career through a Kent State alumnus in San Francisco.
Little Birdie Branding is run straight out of Whittington’s home in Granville. With two small children, working at home allows Robin to get work in whenever the opportunity arises.
“A lot of my work gets done at night when the kids are in bed,” Whittington said. “But no one really needs to know that!”
Little Birdie Branding operates in the cross hairs of creativity and business strategy. Specializing in logo design and branding strategy, Whittington’s focus is on promoting each client’s brand in a positive light, utilizing outlets like Instagram to more traditional media, like business cards.
“I’ve done a little bit of everything, from small boutiques to big cities working with big ad agencies, and now I’m back in Ohio doing what I love,” Whittington said.
Robin believes young designers must abandon their comfort zone, go out into the world and put their degree to use.
“I would never say, ‘yeah, find that top design firm in Akron and go work there,’” she said. “You need to travel and find your passion, learn how to collaborate with people from all over the world and then decide where you truly want to go.”
Whittington’s career has taken her around the world, from California to Australia and back again. But, she still looks back fondly at her time spent at Kent State.
“I couldn't have chosen a better VCD school,” she said. “It was so tough, but all of those silly times you have to redo a project or stay up late, it’s all so worth it. Just know that it all pans out, and in the end, you’ll have a freaking awesome degree!”
By: Sal Mannarino