Matthew Rezac
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BFA in Photography; Graphic Design Certificate
2003
Independent Graphic Designer

In a couple sentences, describe what you do for work and how you feel about it.

I operate an independent graphic design studio that is focused on print, publication, and identity design. Running your own business can involve a lot of challenges, of course, but the freedom it allows definitely makes it worth the extra effort.

How did you choose your major? Was it the right choice?

I was interested in both photography and graphic design, and I was torn on which direction to go. My declared major was in photography, but ninety-nine percent of my electives were in the design department. The design faculty tried their best to persuade me to switch my major, but I stayed the course and earned my BFA in photography.  After I graduated I discovered pretty quickly that the commercial photography world wasn’t the best fit for me—and I found myself more and more interested in chatting with the art directors or designers that would come to the photo shoots. In the end, I returned to MCAD to complete my design studies, so I guess I got it right eventually.

Did MCAD prepare you for life after graduation?

As a designer, yes. I walked away with the design skills and portfolio I needed to start my career.

What inspires you and your work?

In general, art, music, films, nature. More specifically, I find inspiration within the content of each design project I work on—each project has its own unique problems and solutions. I love getting lost along the way—and I love it when I learn something new in the process.

How was your experience working for MCAD DesignWorks?

It was great. I worked on a small internal team charged with rebranding the school. I learned a lot as we went through the entire process from design brief through implementation. Those types of experiences aren’t attainable in a classroom setting and are invaluable as a young designer.

Has your work evolved since leaving MCAD?

I’ve tried to work more intuitively over the years. As a student—and in my first few years as a working designer—I tended to be a very pragmatic designer, so I’ve been making a conscious effort to break out of that habit and inject some looseness into my work.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

Jan Jancourt. I always appreciated how he was able to find and point out the potential in each students’ work, no matter how small. I try to do the same when I visit classes as a guest critic.

Do the Twin Cities offer many opportunities for creatives?

I think so! There's a vibrant arts community, more design agencies than I can even name, a great music scene, and so many great art institutions like the Walker Art Center, Mia, and the Weisman Art Museum (to name a few).

How do you network yourself and your art?

So far it's been word-of-mouth referrals or by making connections through existing clients and collaborators.

What advice do you have for current MCAD students?

I wish I would have been more interested in learning the digital side of design (i.e. web or interactive). Learning code on the side or on the job hasn’t worked well for me thus far. I also wish I would have been better prepared for the business-side of things (like taxes and how much to charge for work). 

Name your one biggest takeaway from MCAD?

Can I say two things? My portfolio would be one. I worked extremely hard as a post-bac student because I knew I needed to walk away with an exceptional set of work in order to get noticed and get my career moving. But the relationships that started at MCAD are just as, if not more, important. Over the past 13 years, I’ve worked on a number of projects with friends I made at MCAD—both as a creative collaborator and as a hired designer. And not just students or classmates, but faculty and staff as well. I’ve also leaned on my former design classmates and teachers for professional advice on more than one occasion, and I’ve always been more than happy to offer my own insights when asked. Those relationships are key.