“I always saw art as nothing more than a hobby”

Young man with glasses, short sleeved collared shirt, and tennis shoes stands smiling on a wooden foot bridge with trees behind him

My parents bought me a book on how to sketch sports cars when I was younger. Even though every step was laid out, I still struggled to make my sketches look like the photos. At the very end of the book, there was an ad for a college of art and design in Chicago. My thought process back then was if I could barely get the tires of a car to look symmetrical, I probably wouldn’t cut it in a school full of artists.

I kept this dream of attending an art college to myself. I went through school focusing on other subjects like science and history, hoping to find something in those fields that interested me. Meanwhile, art class was where I was most content. I always saw art as nothing more than a hobby. When college time came around, I had no clue what I wanted to do. I landed on Strategic Advertising through some guidance of a good friend who was about to graduate from VCU with the same degree. During my junior year, I was selected to be a team leader for a program called CreateAthon@VCU. It was a semester-long program where we acted as account managers until the day of a 24-hour creative sprint. Somewhere during the late hours of the event trying to rebrand a local community center, I had a realization that this wasn’t what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life.

I wanted to be the designer pitching idea after idea until one was a hit. That following week I visited the advisor’s office and signed up to double major in creative and strategic advertising. My hobby finally manifested itself into a career. I spent the rest of my time leading up to graduation trying to cram in as many tutorials as I could to try to catch up on my design skills. When graduation time came around, my portfolio made its way into the hands of a Brandcenter professor who informed me about the Art Direction track. A few months later I was accepted to be in the Art Direction class of 2019.

My journey to Brandcenter has taught me a big lesson in life: stick to what you know and give it time to grow.

-Arthur Olivarez Jr, art direction track, class of 2019