Keynote’s Advice at SEmmys: Embrace and Grow From Failure

Matt Klowkowski Speaks at 13th Annual SEmmys

The 13th Annual SEmmys took place at the St. Petersburg College Seminole Campus Digitorium on April 10. Students of the Digital Arts and MIRA programs, as well as high school students in Pinellas County, submitted projects in categories such as photography, digital arts, and videography. More than 100 SPC students and 34 Pinellas County School students and guests attended.

Working Towards Success

Matt Kloskowski, also known as the Photoshop Guy, was the SEmmy’s keynote speaker. His website offers Lightroom, Photoshop, and Photography assets for designers’ use. He specializes as a “coach” in this area. His experience at Kelby Media Groups, where he worked for roughly 10 years as both an educator and a class recruiter, helped refine his skills and inspire his work.

Matt Klowkowski on succeeding through failure at the 13th Annual SEmmy Awards

In opening his presentation athe SEmmys, Kloskowski chose to share one of the most important things he noticed from his years working alongside artists prepping classes.

“I never saw the bad photos while they prepared. If that’s what you’re looking at, and you’re just seeing success all day long, what’s that mean for you? What’s that mean for what you’re doing?” he said.

For everyone, failure can be a daunting word. But,  in Kloskowski’s welcome to all SEmmys’ participants, he encouraged attendees to embrace failure as a step towards success. It forces people to be “human, normal, real, humble, understanding, patient, driven,” and ultimately, “to learn,” he said.

He reinforced this by sharing a story where he posted all the bad photos he took on a trip, titled “When a Death Valley Photography Shoot Goes Bad.” It ended up being his most visited blog post that year. He believed it was because people could identify with his experience.

“How can they learn if they don’t see you fail first, to see the process of how you build up to success?” he said.

Embracing the F Word

The idea of sharing your weakest work can be downright horrifying. An obsession with flawless portfolios and impressing potential employers conflicts with accepting failure.

Kloskowski, however, emphasized the necessity of this process, particularly because of how it allows people to relate to one another.

 “They love to know somebody else is having those problems too, because it makes us feel like I’m not alone in this, I’m not weird, I’m not crazy, I have those problems and they have them too. And that’s why sharing stuff like that is so important.

To best communicate his philosophy, Kloskowski outlined five stages titled “Embracing the F Word.”

  • Stage 1: Rejection/Failure. This is the actual process of failure or “the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
  • Stage 2: Mourning and self-loathing – a very necessary step, he said.
  • Stage 3: Survival mode, which “isn’t yet living.”
  • Stage 4: Trying again. Finally, “the living stage,” where “you realize you are not a failure; you may have failed, but there is a big delineation between you failing and being a failure.”
  • Stage 5: You’re guess is as good as mine. “Sometimes,” he says, “it’s a rise and repeat of all these steps.”

Working through these steps isn’t easy, but this process is something everyone has in common with each other, Kloskowski said.  And it can lead to a path for success.

“You’ll start to build confidence, and with that confidence, you’ll come up with more ideas.”

Emily Nunez Accepting her Award from Professor Ragan Brown at the 13th Annual SEmmy Awards

Winners of the 13th Annual SEmmys

  1. College Animation/Motion Graphics, Glass Vs Brick, Zach Vanzile
  2. College Digital Imaging Design, Sea Life Stamps, Dawn Pratt
  3. College Graphic Design, Displaced Movie Poster, Karlie Wagner
  4. College Digital Photography, NYE, Lorna Perez 
  5. College Typography, AIGA Post Cards, Emily Nunez
  6. College Music Composition,  Mother of Dragons, Keturah Allyson Duberstein
  7. College Video Camera, A.M.W.A.M. Concert Promo, Carlton Ballestero
  8. College Video Editing, Insanity, Amanda Brennan
  9. College Video Production, Mexico City Blues 113th, Mona Harding
  10. High School Animation/Motion Graphics, Adrift, Jacob Garcia
  11. High School Digital Imaging Design, Grow, Jacob Garcia
  12. High School Graphic Design, Hakuryo Night Club Advertising, Tobias Coon
  13. High School Digital Photography, Escape, Jordan Craven
  14. High School Music Composition,  Better Friends, Alex Bonyata
  15. High School Video Production, Trever, Trey Martin
  16. High School Game Design, Within the Woods, Matthew Hoobin
  17. Best of Show,  Mexico City Blues 113th, Mona Harding

Winners of the 13th Annual SEmmy Awards

See more photos on the college’s Facebook page. 

Interested in the Digital Arts?

SPC offers multiple A.S. degrees in Digital Arts, such as Graphic Design, Multimedia Presentation, Video Production, and Multimedia Foundations. Request more information!

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