Alumnae at Victoria’s Secret Talk Shop

March 19th, 2013 by Katlin McNally
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Examples of the work

Examples of the work Jessica Porter has done

In any design field, artists have to balance their own brand or their company’s brand with the trends that come and go. We had a chance to chat with three alumnae working at Victoria’s Secret about their own efforts to find this balance in their work.

The alumnae work on marketing projects from new gift card designs to environmental graphics that appear in stores nationwide.

Advertising & Graphic Design alumna Jessica Porter (CCAD 2011) is a contracted photo retoucher for the company. She does image correction on  models and products for the in-store displays, working on elements such as skin cleanup, product swap, and background extensions.

“Each new floor set is exciting to me,” Porter said. “As the seasons change, so do the stores. One month I’m retouching beautiful girls in swimsuits and the next I am working on girls in adorable Pink Valentine’s Day products.

“The retouching industry is definitely on the rise. As for Victoria’s Secret, we tend to keep the models looking as naturalistic as possible—and good retouching means you can’t tell it has been retouched.”

Porter, along with other photo retouchers, has often had to deal with the criticism that digitally manipulating a woman’s image can lead to unrealistic photos and perceptions about beauty.

“I am here to sell a product, not a woman or a body” Porter said. “We [photo retouchers] don’t remove flaws—and let’s face it, some of these supermodels don’t have any—but we do remove all the distractions from a photo. If something draws your eye away from the product, I am not doing my job properly.”

Fine Arts alumna Anna Porreca (CCAD 2006) works as a graphic designer for Victoria’s Secret Pink, a segmented brand aimed at a younger demographic.

Example of Anna Porreca's graphic work

Example of Anna Porreca’s graphic work

“I’ve been given the opportunity to work on so many fun projects in the past year that I’ve been with Pink,” Porreca said. “It is really rewarding to see how the graphic concept and design work that my team does affects and gets implemented into so many of the other areas of the Pink brand.”

An example of this is the script typography that Porreca developed for hoodies, which was then used to create LED signage that will be displayed in stores nationwide.

“The most fun is when our ideas lead us to an opportunity to work on projects that are less common for my job description, like thinking three-dimensionally and designing new and humorous shapes for iPhone cases,” Porreca said.

This type of work requires daily research. The designers’ days are spent not only working on products and store models, but also sifting through competitor websites, social media platforms, and anything that yields clues to what fads and trends customers are currently into.

Advertising & Graphic Design alumna Krysti Kalkman (CCAD 2010) is a graphic designer for Victoria’s Secret who works closely with the strategic marketing team from conceptualizing design to executing it.

“Social media is definitely affecting every single big brand,” Kalkman said. “I am always asking myself when designing in-store marketing signage or pieces for PR events if there is an opportunity to bring that into the design. Our customers eat that up, and it helps to get our message out.”

Glyphs of supermodel signatures that Krysti Kalkman developed

Glyphs of supermodel signatures that Krysti Kalkman developed

Trends in typography or pop culture verbiage may be big, and the designers need to gather all those trends into one place and figure out what can and should be worked into the design and brand.

“Basically we take note of all the inspiring stuff we see and hear and create concept boards that will drive our graphic approach that season,” Porreca said. “Sometimes ideas are saved for the next season, and other times they are completely dropped from development. We take what we know about our customer and anything fresh that we see in the world and blend the two.”

Although these alumnae soak up pop culture daily and have busy schedules, they all have similar CCAD experiences and lessons that helped them develop their fine-tuned skills.

“My foundation year classes and professors, especially Tam Peterson and Stuart McKissick, were tough, smart, and pushed my understanding of color and two-dimensional design, as well as re-enforced a strong work ethic,” Porreca said. “I have so much respect for them.”

For Kalkman, a memory from her senior year sticks with her, and it came in the form of a note from her professor Heather Miller.

“It said ‘remember to always keep inspired,’ and that really stuck with me,” she said. “When I’m not with it on a project it’s because I’m not inspired anymore. I think that’s something that is really important. For a designer to conceive vision, you must collect inspiration from others to help drive you.”

For Porter her most important lesson was time management.

“Time management is one of the most important skills you can have as a professional,” Porter said. “When I know I am going to have a lot of work for a very quick deadline I factor in my hours. Staying at work past midnight does happen, programs crash, files go corrupt. You always have to have a backup plan and work diligently.”

Kalkman is from Canton, OH, and attended Jackson High School; Porreca is from Grove City, OH, and attended Grove City High School; Porter is from Heath, OH, and attended Newark High School.

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