Bea Saludo (Packaging Design ’17) has joined the department where she earned her degree with highest honors. “It truly feels like a full-circle moment!” she says. “I’ve known from a young age that I wanted to study either design or education. I came to FIT for design, but knew that I would love to come back and teach. I’m beyond thrilled to be back!”
Saludo, who has designed for many major companies from Unilever to Nike, talked to us about the future of the field, and advice for current students. As we learned, the discipline of packaging design is the consideration of many more elements than simply the outward appearance. She’s exuberant about every phase of the process!
Any notable changes in the Packaging Design department since you were a student?
There have been a lot of changes since I graduated. Notably, Marianne Klimchuk, the former chair of the department, has announced her retirement. Her class changed the trajectory of my life completely, and I can’t thank her enough. She will be missed dearly!
What’s one of the trickier things a Packaging Design student needs to master in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, the course you teach?
One of the challenges is learning how to use the two programs together for a more efficient workflow. You can learn each program independently, but I am emphasizing more about how to use the two programs in harmony with each other.
What skills, aside from technical ones, are necessary to be a successful packaging designer?
You need to be able to talk to people, regardless of whether you’re employed within an agency, corporate environment, or as a freelancer. The ability to engage in conversations with various stakeholders is crucial. This includes coworkers, printers, vendors, and at times, even direct client interactions.
You’ll need to pitch your ideas, receive and apply feedback, and be collaborative. You’ll need to ask questions. You’ll also need to communicate with people who may not have a deep understanding of design. You can be a talented designer, but if you are bad at communicating, it could be challenging to find steady work.
“Bea was an exceptional student, full of energy and passion that she continues to exude in her professional practice. She has a broad scope of experience from a small boutique firm to the corporate environment and is now part of an independent design agency. With her tech savvy and professional experience, she has helped to tweak a technology course, tailoring it so students will have the technological skills specific to the brand and packaging design industry.”
Professor Sandra A. Krasovec, Packaging Design Program Coordinator
From your industry experience, what are some less obvious career choices in Packaging Design?
Prior to joining the program, I never knew there were so many different career paths even within this super specific design discipline. Within Packaging Design, you could become a designer, production artist, comp specialist, strategist, account/client manager, 3D visualizer, and more.
What advice do you have for landing jobs or for visibility?
Networking is huge! The hardest part of breaking into the industry can be getting your foot in the door. The Packaging Design program keeps very good ties with its alumni network, which has led to many students landing jobs quickly after graduation.
My other advice is to have a strong digital presence. Even though Packaging Design is a print-based discipline, many job applications require a website or PDF portfolio. You can even get discovered off of social media or Behance.
What less obvious things might a Packaging Design student best take advantage of at FIT?
PrintFX is such a valuable resource for students. You have access to everything you could possibly need to create incredible packaging comps. Everything from high quality prints, vinyl cutting, 3D printing, and more! Mo who manages PrintFX is the best!
You have industry experience in very diverse areas, like beauty, apparel, and food and beverage. How do you position yourself to compete for these assignments?
I have to credit JxL Creative, the incredible agency I’ve had the opportunity to work with, (as lead senior designer and brand strategist), for scoring such wonderful clients from different industries. The agency offers a wide spectrum of creative services all under one roof. One of the founders, Lisa Ensanian ’12, is a graduate of FIT’s Packaging Design program as well!
Your website states that as an “info junkie” you have “a passion for research, strategy, and storytelling.” How does “strategy” come into play on an assignment?
One of the most eye-opening lessons I’ve learned is that we design for more than just decorative purposes. There is a lot of strategy that precedes visual exploration. There are many layers to strategy, but if I had to boil it down to three main pillars, it would be to ensure that your design is created with these key questions in mind.
- Who am I? (defining the brand)
- Who am I talking to? (knowledge of the brand’s audience)
- Who else is speaking? (knowledge of your competition)
This will ensure that our design work is relevant to the brand and their core audience, and to ensure that they stand apart from the competition on-shelf and online.
Finally, what would you like prospective students to know about FIT’s Packaging Design program?
The program employs professors who have extensive experience. This allows students to learn relevant skills and lessons to prepare for the industry. Every professor I have met cares deeply about the success of the students. I also love the small class size, which allows for a lot of personalized attention and support.
Says the professor, Marianne R. Klimchuk, who Saludo says changed her life: “Bea is an exceptionally creative designer, always eager to collaborate and help others. I am thrilled that she has joined the faculty. I hear from students that her expertise and teaching style are inspiring this next generation of designers.”
To learn more about the School of Art and Design’s Packaging Design BFA program, go to Packaging Design at FIT.
All images were created at JxL Creative and used with permission.