Nicole Gavrilles, Graphic and Interactive Communication 2012 Graduate

Talk about launching a career. A mere five years out of school, Graphic Design major Nicole Gavrilles is headed straight to the top.

Already a Senior Visual Designer at top agency Code and Theory, she shapes user experiences and shares brand stories for clients across industries and platforms.

But that’s not all. In her free time, she manages and designs her own global fashion photography magazine, which she started as a sophomore at Ringling College.

What’s her secret?

So Nicole, what does a day at Code and Theory look like for a Senior Visual Designer?
Well, all days are different! I work on the product side, designing web experiences and solving issues for our clients. I get to work with all different types of clients, from hospitals to Bloomberg to Vogue.

I heard you did design work for the Rio Olympics!
Yes, and this is probably the most complicated website I have ever designed. We worked closely with the team at NBC Sports, meeting with them weekly for six hour meetings. This was their first website with real-time streaming to serve the changing needs of video, and we had to cater to every type of user—from the super-users looking for details on specific athletes in a specific relay to those general users who tune in once or twice a year.

On top of that, when you work with a corporation this size, you learn to marry their aspirations with their existing brand—and I think our team did a really good job of this. In fact, streaming of the Rio Olympics topped one billion minutes in the first week, which surpassed the entire London 2012 Games.

What’s the most rewarding project you’ve worked on?
Just this March, we launched the website for The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab—formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. I have been leading and art directing this rebrand since October 2015. This is the number one rehabilitation hospital in the country, and I love that I am directly helping people by working with them. Not to mention, the site really expanded my work as a designer, as I learned to design for accessibility considerations, creating a great experience for those with mobility challenges or people using different accessibility products to navigate a website. It has been very rewarding.

You’re also the founder and designer of your own magazine, ONE. How do you find the time?
Honestly—I don’t know! But it’s always a gratifying feeling when an issue comes out. Time management is key. I work weeknights and weekends…it gets really tiring but seeing the final product is the best feeling ever. I just published the 13th issue in December.

You started while you were a student at Ringling College. Where did the inspiration come from?
Well, it was the summer after sophomore year, and we had been learning the basics about design. I loved what I was learning and have been interested in fashion photography since I was young. I was inspired by the students around me at Ringling who were producing fun, cool projects in school, and I knew that doing personal projects would benefit my portfolio and separate me from the crowd. This was about showcasing my personal identity.

What about your design style? If you could describe it in three words, what would they be?
Simple. Natural. Curious.

Do you feel like Ringling College prepared you for your professional success?
Oh, definitely. People need to know more about the design program at Ringling. We have amazing teachers that are on top of what is happening in the industry and they pass that to the students. I remember one of my first interviews after school, and, in addition to my portfolio, I could impress them with my knowledge of the industry, my presence, and the way I talked about my work. I could speak intelligently about my thought process and strategy. And I can’t take credit for all of that! I wouldn’t be where I am today without Ringling.

Any advice for upcoming designers and entrepreneurs?
Be yourself. Don’t think you need to have a certain design style just to get a job. Figure out ways to incorporate you into what you like to do. Be hungry. Be humble. Be patient.

Oh, and enjoy every day.

By Stephanie Lederer | Photography courtesy of Nicole Gavrilles

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