Photo courtesy of Mari Abril. Abril posing in her Digital Design and Production (DDP) lab classroom in Palm Springs.
BY OMAR ROMERO
College of the Desert has hired Mari Abril as the new full-time digital design and production (DDP) instructor. Abril has been a part-time instructor at COD since the fall semester of 2014 and is now looking forward to teaching more students the art of digital design.
Abril’s interest in design started when she was young. She loved to draw, and her passion only grew during high school, where she dreamt of designing banners and posters for her school. Later on, Abril made a move from San Diego to Los Angeles, where she attended Cerritos College.
Abril loved creating so much that for many nights, she would stay up drawing without realizing it. It was during her time at Cerritos College that she realized that she wanted to do designing for the rest of her life.
Most of Abril’s experience in digital design came from when she transferred to California State University Long Beach. She freelanced for many different non-profit organizations such as St. Mary Medical Center, SCAN Health Plan and The Serra Project, as well as, neighbors, friends and acquaintances.
While freelancing, Abril hoped to obtain a permanent job under someone and unfortunately, that did not happen, so Abril decided to start her own business, abrilmedia.com, which has given her a number of clients over time.
Abril also started her teaching career in 1995 at Long Beach City College immediately after graduating from California State University Long Beach. Later an amazing opportunity led her to the desert where she started working with Michael Childers, a worldwide renowned award-winning photographer, producer, writer and documentary filmmaker. “Michael puts on a show called ‘One Night Only’, and I help by doing all the marketing material, and this year is befitting the ‘Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center,’” Abril said.
Now, as full-time instructor Abril loves that she is able to teach her students about the many opportunities in the field. “They can be their own boss, work for the government, different organizations, go into marketing and do collateral and designing for major companies. They can create websites, logos, posters, short commercials, animations or be on social media or YouTube,” said Abril.
Abril added, “They will learn about copyright laws and ethics. It’s not just about design, it’s about their connection to the expanding global economy, and people to get a sense of community because this will come with a lot of non-profit work. Their jobs are basically opened to whatever because everyone needs some kind of design, so the opportunities are endless.”
For students who are interested in digital design, Abril suggests enrolling in some of the DDP courses that COD offers. “When I travel to college fairs and have high school students ask me questions, I talk to the students and ask if they like to draw, do they do design, do they like character animations, and so a lot of these things that the students like to do already they can take classes and build upon what they already know and are able to better their skills. When I teach them, I talk to them about how they can take those ideas and create something of their own.”
Abril helped The Chaparral newspaper this semester transition from Quark software to the InDesign program. The paper has a new, cleaner, more professional look thanks to Abril’s assistance. Her students have created posters and logos for programs on campus including KCOD radio and the film program.
“Even as a writer, you need to understand some things about design. You can work for a newspaper or magazine, they use Adobe products, and that is the programs we use for design at COD. We can help you find jobs and internships, and we help you get certified for free, as of now, whereas it can cost about $120 elsewhere to take each test, and if you fail, you have to repay to take them again. We don’t charge you to take the tests; it is free,” said Abril.
“My goal is for the students to do better than me. I want them to go out into the world and do better than what I did, and that they enjoy it along the way,” said Abril about her hopes and dreams for her students as she starts her new full-time work at COD.