Brandon Wolff, a recent graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Technology and member of our chapter, recently won a National Student Gold Award for his packaging design for the Trailblaze Chocolate Co. We recently had the chance to sit down with Brandon and discover how this honor, as well as the honors he received at a local level, have helped propel his career as he looks at life post-graduation.

Why did you decide to go into graphic design?
Choosing my career wasn’t just writing different options down and then looking at the pros and cons of each one– it was much more than that. I would say I didn’t choose design, but rather everything about who I am has led me to it. Looking back, many things helped me become the designer I am without realizing it. When I was younger, I liked sketching, and I was falling in love with being creative. At the beginning of high school, a friend introduced me to Photoshop and Cinema 4D, which allowed my creativity to grow. I started teaching myself the programs and about design by watching videos online. I became a part of an online design community, and I knew I had an interest in being a graphic designer. I entered a contest in high school through Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and ended up placing sixth in the state competition. From this, I realized I had talent in the field, as well as a passion for being creative. My passion for being creative led me to become a designer.

What was your inspiration for the Trailblaze Chocolate Co. packaging you designed?
When assigned the chocolate bar project, I was given a company to base my creative direction on, but we had to come up with a new name and brand theme for that company. The company made chocolate organically and was based in Minnesota. The best connection I was able to make between Minnesota and organic chocolate visually was the beautiful landscape throughout the state. I saw packaging pieces that took a landscape and spread it across multiple pieces, so I used these as inspiration and reference. I found various illustration styles I liked to help get the personality I wanted.

“I believe in being able to create your reality. If you think of what you want to happen to yourself, then work toward making it come true, you can make anything happen.” — Brandon Wolff

How have your Addy Awards helped your career?
My Addy Awards allowed me to reach the goals I wanted to achieve. They have also helped me validate my passion and talent in design. Overall, they are rewarding to have, but a driving passion to create amazing work is the most important.

What does it mean to you to be a National Gold Award winner?
It’s an absolute honor to be a national gold award winner and is something I never thought I would achieve. I’m proud of winning the award, but it’s not something I’ve been strongly focused on because I’m always looking into the future and toward my next goal.

What’s next for you in your career?
I plan to keep growing and getting more experience. I just started working at an agency in Pittsburgh and am striving to keep expanding my skill set. What happens from here is unknown, but the direction I am aiming toward is to keep growing in positions to start solving larger creative problems.

Do you have anything else you’d like to share?
The most important things that sparked my success are a continual desire to learn, a drive to become my best self, and a positive mindset. I believe in being able to create your reality. If you think of what you want to happen to yourself, then work toward making it come true, you can make anything happen. Positivity is an important factor in all of this and it allows you to dream to the fullest!