Graphic Design and the Language of Type

Erick at Warner BrothersListening to Erick Rodriguez, you get the distinct feeling that type can talk. And not just talk, but sing, dance, turn cartwheels and do just about anything a designer would like it to do.

Erick, a fourth-year Graphic Design student, maintains a sort of taxonomy of type. “The most engaging thing about typography is the character and attitude you can bring with just type,” he says. “My favorite typefaces are bold. I love everything from a chunky slab serif to a heavy sans serif, playing with condensed and extended typefaces, and manipulating the type to my liking.  Logos are one of my favorite things to design — I always try to create an accompanying icon but play with the type first. Maybe even fuse the two.”

Erick is enamored of “old things.” As he puts it, “I pull inspiration for my designs from everything I see. I love to go to thrift stores and flea markets, looking for vintage packaging, posters, pins, etc., for typography, icons, imagery, illustrations, and anything else that looks cool. It’s hard to keep my collection limited.  Even if something isn’t old, I often collect what I feel will age well, then be able to show it to someone and have them be astounded by it.”

Erick – full name Erick Angel De Jesus Rodriguez Villanueva – grew up in the Coachella Valley and is a first-generation college student. Before touching down at Woodbury, he attended Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Ventura College, Chabot College in Hayward and El Camino College in Torrance.

Before attending college, he hadn’t considered Graphic Design as a profession until someone asked him point-blank: “What are you gonna do after high school?  Why don’t you go to art school?” The question was a bit of a revelation. “I never considered it since I had never known anyone to ‘do art’ for a living, but that was the spark. I was always drawing and would often draw logos and typography.” So, with the assistance of his now-fiancée, he chose Graphic Design as his new career choice.

He set about building a style and an aesthetic, which he tried using every chance he could, Erick recalls. “It was clean lines, bold typography, vector illustrations, and iconography and imagery,” he says. “It wasn’t until I arrived at El Camino in 2016 that I continued to take design courses. It sharpened my skills and I became very interested in typography and branding.”

During a college fair, he found Woodbury and began the process of transferring. Department Chair Behnoush McKay visited the Torrance campus and reviewed portfolios for potential transfer students, offering Erick “some great reviews and feedback.” He was also accepted at Otis but, on the advice of a counselor and a professor, opted for Woodbury.

When he arrived in Burbank, he took it on himself to secure summer internships at Pelican Products and at Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “My internship at Warner Bros. was as great as it sounds,” he says. “I was given the space to share my ideas and even had them embraced by the team.”

“As of right now, I have no idea about what an ideal career looks like,” he says. “I just want to be able to create, have fun doing it, and be surrounded by like-minded people. I don’t want to close myself off from opportunities and don’t have a specific position that I desire — I just try to prepare myself for when those opportunities do come. The entertainment industry, consumer products, advertising – all are fascinating when I think of my future after Woodbury.  I’m sure I’ll end up somewhere in between, but maybe not.  Who knows?”

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