Kapic & Lazin: Confluence

Lazin began the talk with an emphasis on finding one’s passion, describing it as a driving force. She urged students to work toward doing what they love. Growing up as the daughter of a doctor, a career in art was not considered a viable option for Lazin. Still, possessing a passion for creation, she chose to pursue a career in art, first working in front of the camera as a model for the Ford Modeling Agency and then behind it as photographer herself. After Lazin was accepted to the graphic design program in the art and architecture department of Yale, she and a classmate launched Lazin & Katalan, a graphic design studio, in Manhattan with a myriad of high-profile clients. Following 25 years of success in her design firm, Lazin made the decision to leave the design business and pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional photographer. While Lazin admitted some passions fade with time and others change and develop, she asserted that a passion for one’s professional life is vital. “Don’t do what you don’t want to do,” said Lazin. “If you’re not happy, you can go into another profession.”

Kapic described his career evolution as a movement from a “technical education to an artistic existence.” Having studied management and applied science at Czech Polytechnic before fleeing his native country, he was hired as a management consultant in New York and earned his master’s at Columbia University. Even with his demanding schedule, Kapic attended fine arts classes at The Parsons School of Design in New York City. After later attending a sculpture work-study program in Tuscany and apprenticing as a carver, Kapic decided to devote his time to his passion for art.

Lazin then cited the importance learning from others and one’s own failures. “Listen to people when they have suggestions for you or even suggestions in general.” she advised. Lazin explained that constructive criticism has the potential to create new ideas and opportunities. She also values taking risks and learning from one’s failures. “Taking risks is key, even if you don’t succeed, because you learn from it,” said Lazin, “Never let mistakes get in your way: learn from them.” Admitting when one has made a mistake, too, is important to Lazin, “People will respect you more for it.”

The artists addressed the vital nature of networking in any profession. Lazin described actively seeking out potential clients both as a model and later as a graphic designer. “Be nice to everyone in [a] company,” she warned. “Never close a door behind you, even if you think you’re finished with something. “You never know what [opportunities] will come back around.” In addition to making connections in one’s professional life, Kapic suggested creating a community of peers, particularly for artists. He described an artist’s life as a “lonely existence,” since one must often work alone for long periods. “That’s why you see artists hanging out in bars and coffee shops,” said Kapic, noting how important it is for creative people to connect with each other and speak about their art.

Kapic and Lazin also talked about integrating travel into a career. They suggested taking a gap year to travel, emphasizing that there are many countries with inexpensive travel options. They even recommended traveling alone, if one feels comfortable enough to do so, as it forces one to meet new people and make connections. For those who know they want their professional lives to involve travel, Lazin recommended learning different languages, particularly Mandarin, advising students to seek out companies that have international offices.