Alumni Spotlight: The Collected Works

We asked Jose Fresneda and Justin Colt MFAD’13 a few questions about what they are up to after their experience here at SVA MFA Design.  Here’s what they had to say:

While we were finishing our thesis projects at SVA, we started collaborating on a couple of freelance projects. This continued after graduation and more project opportunities were coming our way. That’s when we decided, after taking advice from many of our MFAD teachers, to start our own design studio, The Collected Works.

Three years later the studio is stronger than ever. Together we have worked with some awesome clients, including Nike, The New York Times, The Art Directors Club and SVA. We’ve also been able to put a lot of what we learned at MFAD into action by working with smaller businesses and early stage startups. We’ve even had a few interns from the SVA MFAD family.

MFAD has had an incredible impact on our professional lives. The obvious reason, is that SVA is where we started working together. Beyond that, a lot of what we’ve done professionally goes back to the program. Our former teachers were an incredible source of inspiration and learning, in terms of starting and running a design studio. We still consult with many of them as much as we can, and many amazing opportunities have come to us through that network. For instance, our studio is located on the first floor of Milton Glaser’s building, and that by itself has already been an enormous impact on our professional lives.

For us, one of the main reasons for starting our own studio was to keep learning and developing our skills–while also doing work we feel proud of. A big chunk of our portfolio is brand identity, which is intentional, as it offers the opportunity to work across different fields and mediums. We also don’t have a strict “style”, and that’s cool. We think the work should be a reflection of the brief and the limitations in place, that’s what makes projects look different. Finally, we like working with smaller teams–where we can work directly with the people that understand what they’re trying to achieve and are in charge of making decisions. It makes everything easier, and produces better work that way.

Besides that, we were always inspired that many of our favorite design studios are relatively small, and decided to follow the same path. A low studio overhead is one of the most direct ways to achieve creative freedom.

The greatest thing about MFAD is that it really equipped us in more than one way to tackle professional challenges. We like to describe the first year of the program as a design bootcamp where you get to flex all of your creative muscles, and maybe even discover some that you didn’t know existed.

This carries over into our work at the studio, where we don’t like to adhere to a specific discipline, but prefer to create work that is responsive to the problem at hand. That means we have to be flexible, and need to work across different mediums–be it print, digital, animation or even virtual reality.

The MFAD experience is an incredible opportunity to learn from, and be introduced to the New York City design scene. One thing that we tell most students we talk to, is to take full advantage of this time at school, and use the amazing SVA network to connect to people and grow your own personal network. An amazing design job won’t be waiting for you right after you graduate, unless you’ve made the right connections here first. Your time at SVA will likely define the trajectory of your career, so work hard, speak up, and build that network.

We’re currently working on a few exciting projects that we (unfortunately) can’t share too much about yet. But, we’ll vaguely say words that relate to them: music festival, virtual reality, buck hunter, music remixes, the color orange, SVA, three dimensional hotdogs. That’s all we can legally share for now.

I think every project in our portfolio is a favorite in its own way. We’re really proud of all of them, and is why we have them on our site for everyone to see.

Three really amazing projects that we got to be involved with over the past year were: The packaging, art direction, design and animation for Day of The Dead–a massive 10 LP tribute to the Grateful Dead. The user interface design for Starry–a touchscreen enabled router that allows users to control and understand their Wi-Fi like never before. The Brand identity for The Meadows Music and Arts Festival–which recently took place in Queens and made the headlines when Kanye West cancelled his set mid-song due to a family emergency.

We’ve been posting a ton of a new work that we had completed over the past year on our site: www.thecollectedworks.com. We’re really proud of it all, and many projects had assistance from former interns and MFAD students (shout out to Livia Ito & Anaële Pélisson).

We also recently launched a game for iPhone called sssssnake which you can learn more at www.sssssnake.com. It’s available on your local App Store.

Finally, if you’re interested in the same stuff we’re interested in, hit us up. We’ve been very fortunate for the SVA family to always make time to meet and chat with us. Everyone has been so helpful over the years, and we want to pay it back. Thanks again MFAD fam.