Daniela Chavez Ackermann and Jared Lebel share tips on how to succeed in the graphic design industry. Photo credit: Perushka Gopalkista

It’s been four years since Jared Lebel and Daniela Chavez Ackermann graduated from Algonquin College. Now they’re here to not only teach but to provide a deeper insight as to how students can succeed in the graphic design department.

In room C-126 with roughly 20 students, Ackermann and Lebel hosted a master class workshop on March 20, in hopes of inspiring others of how they first got their start in the industry after graduating from the graphic design program.

“It’s a pretty unique experience because we were a couple when we both went to school,” Label said. “We studied together — shared classes together. So networking opportunities were kind of like a shared experience, which kind of gave us a springboard into starting our own creative well-being.”

Ackermann and Lebel have created their own branding company titled Salt.

Their inspiration came from historical art and finding ways to incorporate it in the modern world. Lebel says that since salt is a universal condiment it worked well in attracting a variety of businesses.

“It worked really well with the black and white approach that we wanted to take and all the messages that revolved around it,” said Lebel.

When they’re not running their company, the duo teaches design part-time at the college.

“We are lucky to have to a graphic design program that really exposes you to several different streams of design,” said Ackermann. “But if you do choose to be a freelancer – having your own studio and stuff like that – you have that multidisciplinary learning experience.”

Their company also helps other local businesses in Ottawa establish their brand and potentially allow their brands to be more appealing to their audiences.

They believe that since Ottawa is flourishing with many upcoming local businesses, it was a perfect place to start.

“Ottawa is growing a lot, there’s a lot more opportunity,” said Ackermann. “Ever since we graduated we’ve seen a huge shift in design and there’s a lot more room for creativity.”

Drawing inspiration from other cities such as New York and Montreal helps them unleash more ideas and design concepts for their brand as well.

“We’re happy to fight less for more creative ideas,” said Lebel. “We’re getting really awesome projects that align with our values the entrepreneurs align with us as well.”

One of the clients that they recently worked with, was the company Iron North. Iron North is a fitness center located in the downtown Ottawa area that was in need of logo design that would resonate to not only current clients of the fitness centre, but future ones as well. However, it wasn’t as easy as it seemed.

Lebel says that before any design process takes place, there are weeks and weeks of sketching and planning before a final product is designed.

“Before we get into any design we send our client a questionnaire,” said Lebel. “It’s just basically a bunch of different questions such as where they see themselves from a year to five years, what their brand personality is, who their demographics are.”

From there, they collaborated with their clients over a month or in some cases, before seeing the final result.

They believe that taking on as many projects – when freelancing — is something that helps them gain experience and recognition as well.

“Learning with other people is a completely new world and opens up new perspectives,” said Lebel. “We freelanced because we networked a lot because any opportunity that we had, we said ‘yes’ to.”

They believe that no matter how intimidating it feels to get out in the world, it should be something worth striving for.