Less than a year after graduating from Michigan State University with a BFA in Graphic Design, Lorenza Centi started working as an Art Director at Weber Shandwick, a public relations and advertising agency, where she works exclusively with the Chevrolet brand and its 12 different social media channels for each vehicle nameplate.
“It’s really fun being able to work on 12 different channels because each vehicle has its own style and tone, which makes each channel unique,” said Centi, who graduated from MSU in 2017. “One day I will be cutting video of a Silverado shredding through mud, the next I will be making vintage throwback graphics for Corvette.”
Centi works out of Weber Shandwick’s Detroit office and uses her digital design and illustration skills on a daily basis.
“While working in social, we have the opportunity to get our hands dirty with a lot of different projects, and it’s very fun to work with partners, influencers, and the ever-changing social media platforms,” Centi said. “It is very challenging, but in a way that makes me think as an artist in a different vein. Although it is a lot of work, it is extremely rewarding when you see the content performing well.”
It’s really fun being able to work on 12 different channels because each vehicle has its own style and tone…One day I will be cutting video of a Silverado shredding through mud, the next I will be making vintage throwback graphics for Corvette.
Her job has allowed her to learn and grow.
“I have learned an insane amount within only the first year and things I never thought I would experience while working in automotive,” Centi said. “It’s really dynamic, and you learn a ton about just the way the corporate world functions, which is truly fascinating.”
Before becoming an art director at Weber Shandwick, Centi spent her time at MSU exploring art beyond digital design and experiencing the industry through multiple different jobs and internships.
“I felt that trying a little bit of everything, whether it be advertising, web design, illustration, corporate design, etc., would really help me become a well-rounded artist and help me decide which path I wanted to take post-graduation,” she said.
As an MSU student, Centi worked at the Asian Studies Center, a book publisher, and MSU’s student radio station, Impact 89fm, to help shape her skills outside the classroom.
“For three years, I worked at the Asian Studies Center on campus as a Graphic Designer. Simultaneously, I worked with a book publisher designing covers, which gave me a lot of range within my work,” Centi said. “I then went on to work for MSU’s student radio station, Impact 89fm, as an Art Director. This role was great because I was able to sort of own a department and work with other directors within social, promotions, events, and web.”
Centi also had internships with big brands such as Urban Outfitters, located in Philadelphia, where she worked as a Print Designer.
“This was an amazing opportunity that really shaped my career and showed me the corporate side of things while still being extremely creative,” Centi said. “After that, I had a remote internship with Captured Tracks Records in Brooklyn, New York. I’m really into the music industry and really enjoyed being able to create visual work for music artists.”
Throughout her time at MSU, Centi had the opportunity to work one-on-one with many people, and though she had a few different mentors during her time in the Graphic Design program, Professor D’Ann De Simone stands out the most to her.
“She is such an amazing artist and professor,” Centi said. “She really taught me how to give and take criticism, which I think helped me build a tough stance allowing me to be able to take any heat and use it as fuel to do better.”
I think picking out those ‘tiny moments’ of perfection in a piece really helps you look at it differently and be able to analyze the rest of the piece intellectually.
Simone also taught Centi how to find the little things in pieces that make them beautiful.
“Something I really admired about her was her ability to always find a beautiful moment within any piece she viewed, no matter how terrible it was,” Centi said. “I think picking out those ‘tiny moments’ of perfection in a piece really helps you look at it differently and be able to analyze the rest of the piece intellectually. It’s one thing that I always try to do while viewing any piece of work.”
For now, Centi plans to stay in the advertising industry to see where it takes her and what she can learn. She also plans to continue working on her own art and some minimal freelance in her free time.
Her advice to those who are about to graduate to “always be working on your portfolio.”
“Having personal work or projects keep you on your toes and is always a great way to showcase talents you maybe haven’t covered within your college career,” she said. “Also hang in there; getting a job right out of college is rough. I was broke and freelancing lame odd jobs for months before I landed a full-time position. So use that time to work on your portfolio and yourself as an artist.”