American Greetings is among a number of big-name businesses that seek out graduates of Columbus College of Art & Design. We spoke recently with a recruiter at the Ohio-based company about why the company hires so many CCAD grads.
Who: Dan Weiss is the recruiting manager at American Greetings Creative Studios in Cleveland. He’s a graphic designer and longtime educator who’s worked for American Greetings his entire career.
About the company: With revenues of $2 billion annually, a 100-plus-year history and household-name brands like Carlton Cards, Gibson, Recycled Paper Greetings, and Papyrus, American Greetings is a major player in greeting cards and party goods. Between 350 and 400 creatives (artists, hand-lettering experts, graphic designers, photographers) work at the Cleveland studio, a brand-new building the team just moved into in August and September. American Greetings also works with a large number of freelancers.
Why he visits CCAD: “I have a circuit of schools that I go to. They are the most reputable design programs in the country. The quality of CCAD’s program mandates it’s on our circuit,” he said. “I don’t know whether it’s the mindset or admissions or philosophies or whether it’s the Midwest, but the kids tend to be grounded and centered and involved in community events. They’re engaged.”
What he’s looking for in a great candidate: “It’s a unique and different person who comes out of school thinking they’re going to be involved in product design and, in our case, a more expressive product,” he said. A great portfolio is key, but it’s also crucial that the candidate be a great fit for American Greetings’ workplace culture, which is open, inclusive, and participatory. “When we’re interviewing people, that’s a piece of it that comes out through a different sort of interview question, where we learn about the values of the person within the context of their school environment or their social group,” he said.
5 things Weiss looks for in a portfolio:
- “Grads who aren’t afraid of color, who have an on-trend, fashion-forward sense of color.”
- “The grad who adjusts the colors and nuances to be perfectly appropriate for the client.”
- Organic imagery — think flowers, leaves, plants, trees, fish, animals, people.
- Use of curvilinear forms. “The layouts themselves tend to be more organic and free-form, too, and not confined by grids.”
- Variety of subject matter.
Pro tip: “I encourage people to put pieces of their lives in their portfolios,” he said. It helps break the ice during an interview, and it’ll be a natural thing for you to talk about. “Interviewing can be scary or make somebody nervous. But if you embed pieces of yourself in your work, it tends to be a natural segue and makes their passion visual.”