Soon to be Billy Blue Graduate, Benjamin Smith, has some pretty sweet insider tips for students. He stresses the importance of inspiration, from your peers, from blogs, from social media! We talk about how an internship blew his mind, the design scene on the Central Coast, and his Lego monsters from his pre-school days.
Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.
Well, my name is Ben, I’m a 22 year old designer/illustrator from Sydney.
At the moment I am a Landscaper on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. As much as I enjoy pushing lawn mowers around in 30 degree heat the plan is to pursue my dreams of working in an awesome design studio with amazing designers.
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design? Ever since I can remember I have loved making things. When I was in pre school my home was littered with finger paintings of crazy animals, Lego monsters and other things that could help make my wild imagination a reality.
I am a bit of a jack of all trades, master of none. I have attempted nearly every sport and worked countless jobs, the only thing that has been a constant in my life was my love for creation.
When I completed high school I knew I wanted to do something creative but I really wasn’t keen on doing the whole fine arts thing, a teacher recommended graphic design, I had no idea what it even was but decided to give it a crack anyway. I’m bloody glad I did.
What’s your take on internships? I am all for internships! Billy Blue offers an internship subject and it was through this that I connected with Precinct Design. I feel that this was quite a massive turning point for me, any concerns I had with making a graphic design career disappeared. I was taken under the wing of the senior designer and was actually involved in a bunch of projects that I loved and through which I learnt so much.
If you are reading this and thinking whether it’s worth doing an internship, do it. The amount of things you will learn in such a short amount of time will blow your freaking mind.
How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others? Well I’m actually still trying to hone my style into something that is somewhat cohesive, I’m kinda all over the place at the moment. All through school I would doodle in my books all day, just silly little cartoons and stuff, nothing incredible by any stretch. It was in my first year of college that my style changed completely. I made some super close friends that were all a little bit older then me and so bloody talented. I looked up to them so much it was like I had my own little team of mentors. One illustrator in particular who I became great friends with had so much talent and such a unique, cool style (still does), she influenced my style a lot. I have her to thank for introducing me to some of my favorite designers and illustrators and sending me on the design path I am on today.
So yeah, find people who inspire you and go from there, I was just so lucky that those people were such close friends as well.
What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way? 1. Get inspired, follow blogs, follow designers on social media, see what is out there.
2. Printing sucks ass, it’s where your whole project can go down the drain, plan ahead and be prepared.
3. Save your freaking files! I cannot stress this enough, you will thank me at 2 am in the morning before your assessment is due when your InDesign crashes.
4. Be a social designer, go outside meet other designers, network, you never know where it will lead.
5. Be resilient. Look, not everyone is going to love your work, it may be your absolute favorite piece of work, try not to get too upset when your peers don’t see eye to eye with you
What is the design landscape like on your city and where do you fit in? About 2 weeks ago I moved to Leichhardt from the Central Coast. It was not till recently, I guess, that the design landscape of the Central Coast became quite cool. In a place called Long Jetty a few hip cafes popped up hosting art events and small exhibitions, after this the Coast started to become a little bit of a design hub, which was freaking awesome!
I love being surrounded by places with amazing branding and interiors, I’m so stoked that that type of stuff is popping up more and more around the Coast, it always had so much potential. It actually serves as quite a great source of inspiration for my design work as well, there are a few designers on the coast doing some seriously cool things which is great to see.