Headed into college, some students are unsure about pursuing creative arts fields out of a fear of being unable to one day get a job or similar concerns from friends and family.
Andrew Swiger, a fourth-year art studio student with a graphic design emphasis, was wary of that as well before his time at USC. But even with his own graduation nearing, Swiger is working to encourage others to open up to the idea of pursuing an arts degree.
Swiger gets to interact with his fellow art students through his job in the printmaking lab of the School of Visual Art and Design. He's also currently interning with ByFarr Graphic Design, a local creative design firm. Although he was uncertain about the program at first — the duration of his tenure depended greatly upon his early work as an intern — he was recently offered an extended stay.
However, Swiger did not enter into the position as a novice. He began looking into art as a career before he got to USC, his interest in graphic design forming in high school.
"I made a comment to my high school teacher that I would love to just major in art, but I want to be able to eat in the future, and I never saw a high school teacher about jump over the table and strangle me," Swiger said. "She told me that was the stupidest thing I've ever said because there are a lot of creative fields that are very livable with their wage, and there's a lot of outlets that you can explore."
That same teacher would encourage his interest in art and introduce him to the graphic design field, a path that would lead him to USC.
During his first three years at USC and leading up to his current position at ByFarr, Swiger worked as an in-house designer for a garage T-shirt company, a production intern at a screen-printing company and a design intern at Trevett's.
One of his proudest achievements in the classroom led to Swiger's first experience in the sports world.
"Through class I was entered in a competition to design a program cover for the Columbia Fireflies [baseball team]," Swiger said. "The whole class submitted designs for this cover for 'Halfway to Halloween' theme, and my design won, so they printed about five to seven thousand copies of it and used it for three games, so that was pretty fun."
In the meantime, Swiger hopes to increase awareness of USC's graphic design program and encourage those interested to take a more serious look at what it has to offer.
"We do have a graphic design program at USC, and it's a big misconception," he said. "I have so many friends that have had ... one or two years added on to their stay at USC because they got to their junior year and then they found out that there is a design program, and then they start over in design."
Having gotten to see how others turn their art into business, Swiger is eager to one day take his own shot at entrepreneurship.
"My goal is to eventually be self-employed and open my own design studio," he said. "I'm not quite sure exactly what city, state or location I'm really going to be in for the foreseeable future, but that's kind of exciting as well, and scary."