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Intern Hall of Fame | Serena

By March 14, 2018January 17th, 2020blog, Graphic Design


Above: Serena stands in front of her VHS tape Star Wars illustration


Serena Phillips is a self-proclaimed Oregonian, lover of music and magnet for all things spooky! Serena interned with us Fall of 2017 while attending Northwest Nazarene University (NNU). While here, she learned the nitty gritty of logo design and helped brand our annual Shocktoberfest to the tune of Stranger Things. Read through to the end for some great advice for green interns!


What first got you interested in graphic design?

I actually went to high school where they had a lot of art encased into our core classes and I learned Illustrator and Photoshop while I was a freshman in high school. And I thought it was a lot of fun and it was very interesting to me, and I realized that it’s actually a job that you can do! So I just kinda’ kept pursuing it.  


What did you think graphic design was?

I thought a lot of it was just Photoshopping pictures and editing things. I didn’t realize that it went down into branding and layouts and all these different aspects. In high school we did a lot of illustrative projects. Taking pictures, editing them, making them look really weird. Just figuring out how the program worked. And then a lot of InDesign — just learning how to set up pages and print a booklet, which I hated, but… It was lot of learning and getting familiar with the different programs! They weren’t anything super crazy amazing — just making simple newsletters or posters for print.


Why did you decide to take an internship?

For NNU we have to! That’s a requirement in order to get your degree.


What did you expect it to be like?

I had done 3 years of school, so I was going into my senior year. So I was pretty familiar with all the programs, I just wasn’t sure what it would be like to be in an actual design firm setting, and working with a group. I didn’t know what I was expecting really.


What were you nervous about?

Um, I have to think about this! I was nervous that I might be very ill prepared and not know a lot of different things. But I realized that it was a very safe area to ask questions. It was really helpful having Angie, and being like, what does this mean?… But at first I was afraid that I wasn’t going to know enough… or be less prepared than maybe I was expected to be.


Were you surprised by anything?

I guess the one thing I was surprised by the most was saving out logo formats for the client. Just having to save out every single different file in the different sizes. Because I’d always thought it was kind of a no-brainer. You just hand off one file and then they can size it.


Above: Some of the projects that Serena got to get her hands on, Nutrition Works branding and Shocktoberfest 2017


Were you hoping to achieve anything specific, and did you?

I think I was really hoping to look more at branding, because that’s an area that I’ve always really liked, even if I didn’t know it specifically. It was helpful being able to look at the past projects that Peppershock has worked on, and seeing how a client meeting would be set up and then the branding sheet. And all the different little components that went into that. Also reading more about branding standards, because I didn’t know necessarily about that before.


What do you remember doing the most while you were here?

Dang, the most? Um, I did a lot a’ illustrations for social media. And then a lot of stuff for Shocktoberfest.

Social Media- Graphic Design

Above: Instagram posts that Serena was featured in and helped create


Besides branding, what did you learn?

I learned that I need to learn more photoshop! That’s definitely a weak area. Which was good to know. And then also… really just simple things like saving out for web and the different file formats. Like small little things that you probably would hear in class but just kind of wiz past you sometimes.

I also liked coming up with concepts for the Wine Dine Be Kind logo — taking an old design and  revamping it was fun. And just getting input from other people. I found out I really like working in teams! I think sometimes people don’t realize that you will work in teams as a graphic designer, and assume you’re just going to freelance. But I really like having that feedback and that critique. I didn’t really have any group design projects in school.  Going into this last semester we have more of a group project for the senior show, but outside of that we don’t do a whole lot.

And I sat in on one of Angie’s meetings. It was cool to see them using Trello, and keeping track of all the different things.


There’s a lot happening in your life! Can you tell me about it?

Oh man, there’s a lot! So with the senior show there’s a lot of going back and reworking old projects, really honing in on what I want to showcase. And thinking about what type of employer I want to look for after graduating. And a lot of researching design firms and job opportunities.


Do you feel the internship prepared you better for graduation?

I think originally I had been looking at after graduation just going and freelancing, but now I’m actually looking at a lot more design firms. Specifically, smaller design firms because I like the smaller environment where you’re more connected and doing a little bit more.


What have been some of your favorite projects of all time?

I think my all-time favorite project was a class assignment branding an all-girl skate label, creating five different deck designs, and doing some hand done type for the logo. Probably just because it was kind of like little kid me being like, “Oh cool, we’re achieving a dream right now!”

Peppershock Media

Above: Serena paints the Peppershock window display and shows off her coloring page for our social media contest!


What’s your advice for future interns?

Don’t be afraid of not knowing things. Be open to asking questions when you don’t know things, and very open to learning as much as you can. Even the technical side. Just ask lots of questions! You’re not going to know everything and you have to be ok with that. You don’t always have to have the answer for everything.

I think anyone could really benefit from coming and interning here, but if you’re wanting to specialize in one very specific thing like you just want to work on logos, Peppershock might not necessarily be a good fit. Or if you just want to do illustration for everything and don’t want to do layouts or really work with type at all. You have to be more of a Renaissance type person. And you definitely have to be okay with working in a team for sure, and being willing to get feedback from people. If you don’t like critiques, it’s probably not going to be your cup of tea.


Thanks for reading!

Keep an eye out for Serena’s upcoming design show at NNU! There will be two events and she’ll be in the second. If you stop by in person, you’ll have the pleasure of witnessing her design work first hand. Follow Serena on Instgram here.

And for our next intern post, Courtney Johnson will share how her summer internship at Peppershock was also a huge turning point in her life. Check back to see how she creatively pairs her design knowledge with a second passion.

Natalie Blodgett

Natalie uses her artistic and analytic abilities to concoct fun with a heavy dose of purpose and function. She stays up-to-date on the latest technologies, combining them with traditional processes for customized, effective design with a clear focus on the end user.

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