Meet John

“Raise the bar high. Challenge yourself and you will be noticed. If it’s not perfect, you’re not done.”

Name: John Warner

Field of Study: Sculpture and Functional Art

Year of Graduation: 2001

Current Position: Full-time Sculptor, Walker, Mich.

What was the most important thing you learned about your field while at Kendall?

Craftsmanship. I repeat–craftsmanship. Raise the bar high. Challenge yourself and you will be noticed. If it's not perfect, you're not done. If it takes five times as long to finish a work as it did to build it, so be it; the piece will stand out in the end. Take cues from our rock star peers. Also, a sculpture is a three-dimensional object, thus should be interesting and/or compelling from all views.

What was your most shocking realization about your field after graduation?

Accountability. Failing a class or assignment pales in comparison to losing a commission or, worse, a client. If you come out a little short a few times in order to make a client happy, that's okay. Learn from your mistakes, but also your successes. By the way, all-nighters exist well beyond graduation. Trust me!

Give us your best interview tip.

Absolutely, unequivocally, it's confidence. Your potential new client needs to know that you are capable, or you're toast. They, and perhaps many others, will be counting on you: the professional. However, you have to know it as well. If you don't think you can learn a new process or medium quickly and be able to deliver work like you've got years of experience at it, don't commit. Don't forget about humility. And when you do score a project, which you will, blow them away. That is "our" definition of job security.

List three ways you network in your field.

  1. Attending alumni events, gallery openings and other art-related shenanigans.
  2. Answering "calls for artists."
  3. When meeting people, I always ask what they do so they ask me in return.

What was the worst interview moment you've experienced?

I forgot to put on deodorant; it was July; I was nervous. Yeah ... oops.

List three résumé "don'ts."

  1. Please don't lie. No one has the time or energy to deal with that. Some clients actually check references! Your reputation is too precious.
  2. Don't overdesign it. Clients tend to be turned off by weird or loud résumés.
  3. Don't include incidental employment history or other irrelevant information.

List three résumé "do's."

  1. Highlight your strengths, but don't over-embellish.
  2. Have it proofread, edited and perhaps even rewritten by a professional. Typos and poor grammar are like fingernails scratching a chalkboard.
  3. Keep it to the point and factual. Leave the in-depth discussion for the interview.

Name the most essential skill, tool or software program relative to your field.

The intangible skills are really the most essential: tenacity, resourcefulness, passion, ambition, etc. You can make amazing objects out of nothing with these.

How did you make the first connection that led to a job in your field?

I took baby steps – selling wares at artist markets and on Etsy, and even putting ads for services on Craigslist. (Hey ... you've got to start somewhere.) I also invested in professionally designed business cards and a website. Yes, it's expensive, but worth every penny. It took years, but I eventually built a portfolio/presence that spoke for itself during interviews. After a few cornerstone projects, word-of-mouth took over.

Make it
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