Elena Ortiz began her professional career at Texas-based Houston Chronicle newspaper, setting type and designing layouts back when rulers and Exacto knives were a printer's primary tools. She then transitioned to the nonprofit world, moving into administrative roles based on her leadership skills. It was during this time Ortiz found her passion. Because everyone does a little bit of everything at a nonprofit, Ortiz became an "accidental graphic designer" and decided she wanted to explore a career in graphic design.
So she began looking at different art schools, but found inspiration and an easy time commitment of only two years at a UC Berkeley Extension Art and Design information session. And there she found inspiration. "I thought, 'If these teachers can inspire me during an information session, just imagine what it would be like to go into a class with one of them!'" Ortiz remembers. Once she got her feet wet with an Illustrator class, Ortiz signed up for the two-year program. "You start the program with basically the same group and see yourself all the way to Studio IV. You see your own advancement of skills and knowledge, as well as everyone's creativity."
While Ortiz has completed the Professional Program in Graphic Design, she continues to take classes to keep her fresh in a highly digital world. "I want to keep going because, as they tell us early on, a graphic designer no longer does mostly print," she says. "And I've used some of the UX and UI knowledge as an intern at multicultural marketing agency Jungle Communications in Berkeley. My knowledge of wireframes contributed to their rebranding process and to client projects."