EU Alumni Perspective: Danielle Coleman
Name: Danielle Coleman
Graduation Year: 2016
Major: Studio Art with an emphasis in Ceramics
Current Position: Product Designer and Marketing Assistant, Convivial Production
City and State: Kansas City, MO
Tell us about your career and what you do now.
I work at a design and manufacturing company in Kansas City, Missouri called Convivial Production. We create ceramic goods in the home, table, and garden category. In 2018, I came in as a production assistant, where I worked to create the initial form of each piece by hand. As the company grew, new positions were created, and I began to split my time between creating the products and designing and digitally marketing them. Now, I work full-time as a product designer and marketing assistant. I also assist with custom-order projects and our mural program.
What is your favorite memory from Evangel?
It’s hard to pick just one memory. I really enjoyed my time living on campus. I met many life-long friends in Spence Hall. I also enjoyed being involved in AB (Activities Board). By working alongside a diverse team of creatives, I gained many practical skills that I still carry with me in the workplace today.
One of my favorite memories would have to be the summer trip I took to Italy with the Art Department. It’s the kind of trip every art student, no matter the school, hopes for. I’m just grateful that Evangel provided that opportunity for me. I spent weeks traveling throughout the country from Florence to Rome seeing masterful works in person that I had previously studied in my Art History course. It was a priceless experience and incredible highlight to my time at Evangel.
How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?
Evangel helped me develop my calling by simply offering me the opportunity to grow in two areas that I value the most: my faith and the arts. I could study ceramics, marketing, and the Bible all in one place. I had teachers that understood the importance of faith in the arts, who encouraged us to integrate them when we could- something you don’t receive at just any university or art school. Even if faith isn’t directly communicated through my work, it will always be the foundation of every decision I make within my career in the arts.
How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?
Often times when I think about my experience at Evangel, I compare it to what it would have been like if I had gone to an art school instead. As a high school student, I was encouraged by many to apply to an art school rather than a faith-based, liberal arts university. Though I was certain about my choice before and during my time at Evangel, after graduation I’ve found true affirmation that the choice I made was certainly the right one for me.
At Evangel, my education was filled with such variety, in that I was able to study theology, philosophy, marketing, painting, ceramics and more. Being able to pursue different areas of study opened more possibilities to what I could do after college. Now that I work in a company full of former art students, the variety of my background has made me stand out. My degree in ceramics opened the door for me to design ceramic home goods. Though I only studied marketing for two years, that experience opened the door to content creating and marketing within the company. With my strong background in drawing and painting, I was offered to design a city-wide mural. All this to say, I have the variety of my education and the experience I received from Evangel to thank for my position today.
What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?
The advice I would give to myself as a student and to current students, especially in the Art Department, is to start gaining experience now before you graduate. This can be small, like a work study position in the department you are majoring in. However, I would encourage students to pursue as many volunteer opportunities or internships as possible. If not an internship, pursue a part-time position that would provide experience in the area of work you are interested in. If you aspire to be an artist, begin the practice of creating outside of class and look for opportunities to sell your work. My greatest regret immediately after graduating is not gaining enough experience before applying for jobs. I quickly learned that the experience I needed for a job could have been easily acquired as a student either during school or during summer break.
What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?
I would look for someone who is proactive, disciplined, and willing to learn. For those interested in pursuing art, I believe that being self-motivated and proactive is more important than being skilled. Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.
After graduation, I’ve also learned that education continues on into your career. In creative positions especially, technology and design are always progressing. Creatives need to be able to adapt, learn, and problem-solve continually. Practically though, an individual’s consistency and work ethic will determine their success.