“I came into design, I assume the way most do, as a creative child who loves drawing. So a careers advisor recommends maybe architecture or graphic design. Well math is not for me so graphic design it is. My first question though ‘What’s graphic design and how do I get that job?’
The idea of getting paid to do book covers and logo’s sounded great to me. So how do you get there? Apparently the recommended route is a foundation art year followed by 3 years in a degree. So thats what I set about doing.
As much as I enjoyed foundation art life, beers by night, life drawing and colour wheels by day. I was desperate to do something that felt like It could get me a job, I wanted an industry brief, I wanted to learn. I wanted to prove all my mates who said “you just draw pictures all day”, wrong.
Which is why I was so happy when I finally started my degree at University of South Wales. We got given live briefs, software tutorials, one-to-one help and feedback. The tutors seemed genuinely keen to help push me. I especially enjoyed second year, where I learnt some of the most important rules of my career. Never under estimate the value of good typography! And design is meaningless without reason and purpose.
My time at USW
It didn’t come easy to me - I was decent at drawing but wasn’t great with computers. My initial designs were pretty average, but I was persistent and eager to produce good work. I listened to every bit of feedback, asked questions and watched tutorials. I did my best to work outside of my comfort zone doing more and more digital projects. I offered to do freelance for friends and family, stayed up until the early hours developing ideas and I enjoyed every minute of it. Hanging out with friends in the studio, going for coffee and critiquing each others work, it was so good to be in a group who were all so passionate. These years I grew so much, they exposed me to the opportunities that got me where I am now and gave me the confidence to take them.
In the end the hard work paid off, when in my final year someone from Spindogs (digital design agency) came into uni looking for an intern the tutors pointed them to me and my portfolio. I think as much as having some decent digital and print work helped, being eager to learn and being able to talk clearly and passionately about my ideas got me the spot.
I helped at Spindogs for a few months while I continued at uni. Again I went out of my way to say yes to everything and learnt as much as I could. It wasn’t easy working 9-5 and still doing my degree, but I loved it. They gave me opportunities to improve and apply myself and when I graduated I walked straight into a full time job with them.
Rather then being complacent in my first job there I continued to take on regular freelance work, mainly doing student event flyers and social banners. Looking back it wasn’t brilliant stuff but working for yourself forces you to think on your feet and not rely on others for answers. It gives you confidence at speaking to clients and teaches you the value of being time efficient.
My dream job 'Down Under'
After two years of learning and saving I wanted to get some more life experience under my belt. So I went travelling, exploring the world doing the whole ‘find myself’ insta thing. But I was determined not to let this youthful desire for freedom ruin my design career and all the hard work I put in, so while I traveled and over cocktails by a pool in Fiji I worked on my CV and portfolio. I did personal projects and a little freelance, so that when I ended up in Sydney 6 months later I walked straight into an interview at an agency and had a design job within a week.
Two years on, I am now the senior graphic designer at Toast Creative, one of the top design agencies in Sydney and I can honestly say the lifestyle is unreal.
Now my days start with a surf in Bondi followed by a day of creativity, branding a new luxury jewellery company or illustrating a new range of wine labels out of the Clare Valley.
I still love the challenge, and do freelance on the side, working with new projects everyday and continually learning. I’m excited about the future and look forward to the next chapter.