Q&A With FIDM Valedictorian and Graphic Design Graduate Angelica Villegas

Becoming Valedictorian at FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising is no easy feat, and this year it was impressively accomplished by Graphic Design Branding graduate Angelica Villegas.

As former president of FIDM’s AIGA student group The Red Dot, Villegas was a highly involved student during her time at FIDM. Aside from The Red Dot, she was an intern in FIDM’s Publications Department, a contributor to the FIDM Tumblr, a participant in MODE magazine, a guest speaker at many FIDM Open Houses and held a leadership position during FIDM’s Student Showcase in 2012. Aside from her involvement in student activities, Villegas also found time to excel in her design work, participating in the Signal Snowboards contest, designing a snowboard that was manufactured and featured on the FIDM DEBUT 2013 runway, interning at Exchange LA, and joining the PixelDrip Art Gallery Team. “One should never shy away from beneficial opportunities,” says Villegas, “If there was ever a chance to showcase my work or become more involved in the design community, I was there.”

FIDM Class of 2013 Valedictorian - Angelica  Villegas

FIDM Class of 2013 Valedictorian – Angelica Villegas

Originally from Escondido, CA, and a previous graduate of Escondido High School, Villegas decided to come to FIDM after her mandatory practical arts sewing class planned a field trip to the FIDM San Diego campus. “Little did I know,” she says, “the trip would impact me enough to want to apply. The fast-paced curriculum and creative environment were some of the largest reasons why I chose to attend FIDM.”

The experiences she gained at FIDM impressed upon Villegas the importance of being involved in clubs and activities as a student. Through them she realized “learning does not occur solely in the classroom. Being involved in clubs and activities trains your networking and interpersonal skills, promotes teamwork, and allows you to apply what you’ve learned.” She reminds her fellow FIDM students and graduates that “success is dependent on taking intelligent risks on the right opportunities, not the grade that accompanies a class at the end of the quarter.” In true Valedictorian-speech fashion, Villegas poetically urges her peers to “always be on the lookout for areas where you can improve and help others improve. Follow your heart and act with purpose.”


Q&A With FIDM Valedictorian and Graphic Design Graduate Angelica Villegas

Angelica Villegas

Through participating in student clubs and activities, the most exciting opportunity afforded to me was:

“Being the President of the Red Dot AIGA Student Association was a particularly exciting opportunity. I was able to participate in events and opportunities that would have otherwise been unreachable. I arranged for studio tours at prominent Los Angeles firms such as Petrol Advertising, SapientNitro, Ferro Concrete, and BIW, and met the amazing people behind the large-scale campaigns that surround us on a daily basis. One of the highlights was meeting Alan Hunter, the Creative Director and President of Petrol Advertising, who deisgned the Collector’s Edition packaging for Final Fantasy XII – one of my all-time favorite video game packaging designs.”


The most rewarding aspect of my FIDM experience was:

“interning for FIDM’s Publications Department. I loved being able to work alongside the amazing creative team responsible for realizing FIDM’s print and web designs. Because I worked with such experienced designers, photographers, and writers, I was able to develop my skills beyond the classroom and apply them in real-life situations.”


My favorite class at FIDM was:

“I would have to say that one of my favorite classes at FIDM was Design I with Mr. Gardos. It was an exceedingly heavier course load than I had anticipated, but the in-depth explorations of the design principles and drilling of presentation techniques that I learned in that class largely shaped my foundation as a designer and creative professional.”


After graduation I’m hoping to:

“update my website and portfolio and look more thoroughly at the graphic design opportunities in the Greater Los Angeles area. I aspire to someday work for a technology firm such as SapientNitro or Google, a branding agency such as Landor Associates or Pentagram, or a multidisciplinary design firm such as Fuseproject, that continues to reinvigorate and innovate the world around us.”


Some of my favorite current graphic designers and firms are:

“Yves Béhar and his firm Fuseproject. I chose him as the topic of my Designer Report for the History of Design class. His prolific and innovative designs have inspired me to look beyond just graphics at the many different disciplines under the umbrella term to inform my own work.”


I decided to apply to become Valedictorian because:

“when I first started FIDM, I came by a video of Sara Cho, the FIDM class of 2011 Valedictorian, on the FIDM YouTube page. Her profound speech and anecdotes about her FIDM experience inspired me to both take advantage of every opportunity during my time at FIDM and to achieve what she had. I knew, at that moment, that I wanted to be where she was and empower even just one more person to achieve their goals.”


Angelica Villegas’ Valedictorian Speech

Angelica Villegas FIDM Valedictorian

“If someone had told me, prior to attending FIDM, that I would one day be here, graduating amongst a class of wildly creative and brilliant professionals, I would have surely laughed in amused disbelief. For someone who had only known the safety of the suburbs, moving to the big city to pursue an uncertain dream seemed like wishful thinking at best. It took months to even convince my parents to tour the campus, let alone come to terms with and support the fact that the path I had chosen was everything but conventional. However, against the odds, my passion and proclivity to design prevailed. I found myself in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, with an abundance of optimism and six terms to prove to the world just how dedicated I was, and still am, to my dreams.

As with most worthy things in life, it was never an easy journey to success. Within the first year at FIDM, we learned to balance work with school and a social life, to never hesitate to enter an open elevator, to obsessively save our progress after every little edit, to keep at least five copies of our work on hand (because, as all of us know, our flash drive will somehow find a way to fail us on finals week), to print our homework well in advance, to improvise last minute when things don’t occur as planned, and to regularly run on less hours of sleep than I can count on one hand –- all while keeping a smile on our face. I will never forget the times when I stayed at school with my peers for more than thirteen hours working on our projects, or managed to pull consecutive all-nighters to meet unyielding deadlines. Truly, it is thanks to FIDM’s true-to-industry situations and extremely knowledgeable instructors that we built an enduring work ethic, unfailing perseverance, and an undoubtedly substantial knowledge of the precepts, processes, and technologies surrounding our profession.

It is undeniable that we will graduate into an era of economic health that demands great social responsibility, but that is not to say that we have no control over how we perform under these tribulations. It is only in these trying times that we can accurately gauge our prowess and prove ourselves as not only valuable members of our industry, but as valuable members of our society. No matter how bleak the circumstances may seem, it is my steadfast belief that we are more than equipped with the knowledge, spark, and motivation to realize a better tomorrow for us and for those around us.

I want to thank the instructors, who taught us more than just the curriculum, but also the value of our creativity, ideas, and overall profession; I want to thank the staff, who continue to guarantee that the college anticipates what is best to ensure our employability; I want to thank my parents and loved ones, who support me and enabled this entire experience. It is with profound honor and pride that I no longer identify us as just the designers and creative professionals of tomorrow, but as the designers and creative professionals of today. We are game-changers. We are innovators. We are visionaries. We are the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Class of 2013.”

Click here to download the speech in PDF format.

Angelica Villegas’ Graphic Design Portfolio

Click on the images below to expand:


Thank you very much Sara Berkes, our Graphic Design Student contributor, for this wonderful interview.


FIDMDigitalArts contributor, Sara BerkesSara Berkes is currently a Graphic Design/Branding major in the Professional Designation Program at FIDM. She has a B.A. Honors in English and Creative Writing from the University of King’s College and enjoys any opportunity to combine her interests in writing and design. She loves design that uses lots of white space, hand lettering, geometric shapes and excellent kerning, though not necessarily all at once. When not designing or writing, Sara enjoys knitting, sewing and reading lots of books.

Be sure to check out her website by clicking here.


Questions/comments? Email the editor, Mani O’Brien at mobrien@fidm.edu

Learn More…

Would you like to learn more about earning a Graphic Design degree or Digital Media degree from FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising? Click the link below…

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Author: Sara Berkes

Sara Berkes is a graphic designer, writer and maker based in Ottawa, ON, Canada. She has a combined BA in English and Creative Writing from the University of King's College and an AA in Graphic Design, which she earned from FIDM in December 2013 along with the 2013 / 2014 Graphic Design Award. When not designing or blogging at Sara Berkes Creative or writing for the FIDM Digital Arts Blog, Sara can probably be found sewing, knitting, or hiding from Winter. You can find out more about her and her work at www.saraberkescreative.com

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