Alumni Spotlight: Donica Ida

Mar 16 2017
What have you been doing, professionally, since graduating SVA MFA design?

I am currently an Art Director at digital agency Critical Mass in SoHo, where I work on large scale branding and digital projects. I’m also the design director for Mary Review, a print and digital magazine of news and ideas produced entirely by women. This has been especially rewarding considering the political situation we’ve found ourselves in this year. And, the fact that the Mary website was included in the Library of Congress permanent archives was a career highlight. I’ve been very lucky. Prior to my role at Critical Mass, I freelanced for various clients and agencies in the city, and held an internship at Pentagram New York under Michael Bierut.

Tell us about your thesis “North”. How has it progressed? 

Shortly after graduation, I received a few offers to sell or partner with other entrepreneurs and investors to get North running. After a lot of contemplation I decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do at the time. The offers just didn’t feel right. So, North is on hold for now while I figure out what to do with the brand. I’m thinking of taking it in another direction soon, so you’ll have to stay tuned.

Any long term goal/short term goals?

For now, I’d like to continue growing as a designer and art director while pursuing creative projects outside of my day job. We are currently looking for funding for the second issue of Mary, which I hope will continue to foster creative opportunities for women writers, designers and artists. Ideally I’d like to work on projects rooted in social impact. I have a few Critical Mass and freelance clients that are non-profit organizations and would love to continue to utilize my design skills to affect positive change.

What impact has SVA MFA Design had on your career?

The MFAD program helped to jumpstart my design career in New York City and gave me a new perspective on design. There’s no longer a standard definition of graphic design, nor is there one specific job description for a designer—the program taught me how to acclimate to and evolve with the industry. Steve, Lita, and a few faculty members I’ve stayed in touch with have also been very supportive of my career since graduation. They are generous with their time and have helped to connect me with people outside of the program. On a personal level, I’m still very close with many of my classmates. They’ve been such a tremendous support system and for that, I’m so grateful.

Has our “do it all” approach changed the way you work or approach a project?

It really has. I feel so much more empowered and capable as a designer than before entering the program. Instead of contributing in one, strictly visual way to a project, I’m able to contribute to the project as a whole. It’s made me more thoughtful, opinionated, and confident about the work I’m doing and the work I want to be doing.

Any advice for incoming students?

Don’t sweat the small stuff, work hard, take risks, and help your classmates. Don’t come into the program with set expectations of how you want the program to help you. If you go into it with an open mind, the program will change you in ways you won’t expect.

How do we get involved?

Always happy to collaborate with and meet new people. Please reach out, just email me hi.donica@gmail.com! As I mentioned, we’re pursuing funding for Mary so please reach out if you or anyone you know would be interested in working with us.