Billy Blue kid, Emilyn Ouch chose to study Graphic Design after deciding fine arts just wasn’t for her. She tells us about learning a new crafting skill every year, her primary school short stories about drinking soap, and shares some advice about sleeping (you should definitely be doing this).
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what led you into design? My earliest creative memory is probably my first day of kindergarten where I was so distracted by coloured pencils and paper that I didn’t even care that my mum was leaving. Aside from that, I wrote a lot of short stories in primary school. None of them were ever that great – one involved a kid drinking soap and becoming a human bubble machine – but they were such vividly imaginative and whimsical tales.
I had always wanted to do something creative with myself. I fell into design after deciding I was too much of a failure to pursue art. To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into, but I’ve always been more motivated to create things for other people than for myself.
When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started? I don’t think there’s a clear point I could place where I fell in love with design. You could argue that I’ve always loved it without quite being aware of it. I’m a big hobbyist. I love to craft things, whether it’s wireworked jewellery, knitted scarves or crocheted toys (my friends get a lot of handmade gifts from me and I rarely keep things for myself) and I’ve always found it such a great shame that my highschool never provided the opportunity to do woodwork. In any case, I have a habit of picking up a new craft every year, learning the basics and then applying those techniques to my own designs. I’m always keen to learn and I’m a real hands-on learner. Show me the mechanics and I’ll want to meddle with them myself (you could probably blame my dad for that – he was always finding ways to build things we didn’t have the money for). It’s rather broad, but it’s all still design-related.
What career advice would you give your 16yr old self? Work hard and don’t be afraid to ask people for advice. There’s something to learn from everything. Don’t pass up opportunities just because you don’t think you’re ready for them. There’s no harm in trying and the best way to learn is to make mistakes.
What advice would you give students starting out?
1. I know everyone is probably tired of hearing this, but Time Management is Important!
2. SLEEP IS IMPORTANT! Nothing helps a creative block more than a mind fresh from a good rest. Plus sleep is better for you than coffee. Or energy drinks. I’m pretty sure too many energy drinks can kill you. Plan your all-nighters. And if you have to go without proper sleep at least plan for power naps. They help a lot.
3. BACK UP YOUR WORK. On more than one device. I have three hard drives so maybe I’ve gone a little overboard, but I lost half a year’s worth of work once and, trust me, that is not a nice experience.
4. Experiment. Make mistakes. The best time to do so is when you have people around you who can tell you where you’ve gone wrong.
5. Make friends. Network. Keep in contact with people. You never know where a job can come from or when a cool project will suddenly land in front of you. Cultivate friendly rivalries because you will push each other to do better.
What’s on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months? Professionally… Really, I just want to gain as much experience as possible through work, through internships, through anything. Personally, there are a lot of projects I’d like to get around to finishing – I’m working on a couple of mobile apps with a friend, but we’ve both had so much on our plates these past 6 months that the project really hasn’t progressed much. I’d also like to get everyone off my back about selling all the stuff I keep making and maybe finally set up a business regarding that. It’s all quite vague at this point in time, but it’d be nice to make some extra money on the side. 2016 for you in a sentence. Ferocious, Frightening, Fantastic. It’s been a good year for me personally but I worry about the state of the world.