TDK Awards 16′ winner, Joseph Dennis, tells us about how he reached out to the top Perth designers in his final week of study and landed a job, and suggests we all start judging books by their cover!
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design? I think I might have to attribute some of my earliest creative memories to Lego. I never liked building by the instructions as much as I liked building my own ideas . Lego was my favourite thing and I could build extremely fast spaceships!
My dad is a graphic designer and the reason I love design so much. When I was a kid I used to sit next to him and watch him while he worked. He did a lot of his job away from the computer too, which I found really exciting – he would paint in oils and inks or draw or collage. I think at a young age this really caught my imagination and was something that I could do too.
What was your plan for graduating and what actually happened? My plan upon graduating was to intern as a junior designer in a branding agency in Perth, work hard and get a full time job. I did my research during my last few weeks of study, and made a list of the heads of design in Perth. I then sent them all an email asking if I could come in for a chat about the industry, their business and my portfolio. I went for a meeting with a head of design each day of my final week, leading up to Friday, my grad show. I got some great feedback, met some very interesting and switched on people and because my portfolio is quite illustrative, I was offered a freelance illustration job for Transperth by Perth advertising agency 303MullenLowe. It was my first job outside uni and when I finally saw that illustration out at train stations around Perth it felt like after years of study I was finally a real designer. I was asked back to intern as a designer full time in January and before the end of the year had a full time job as a junior designer. It really came together as well as I could have imagined.
What has been your highlights since you started out? I’ve had the opportunity to work on some really great clients early in my career. I have also had the absolute privilege of working with some amazing designers who have taught me so much in my first year out. One of the highlights though for me has been designing the award show branding for the PADC Skulls (Perth Advertising and Design Club). I had a huge amount of freedom and put a lot of work into the project. When I walked into the building where the awards were held and saw my work up on every screen it felt pretty great. The work was such an expression of what I want to do and where I want to go in my career that I felt incredibly fortunate to have worked on a job like this so early and had such great guidance from those around me.
What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way? 1. Your opinion is what you’re being paid for so value it or others won’t.
2. Judge a book by its cover (that’s what it was designed for).
4. Keep it balanced: even if you love what you do, working on a weekend is still just working on a weekend.
5. A pencil and a layout pad are the best way to start a project and most often the best way to work through creative block.
6. Have something else in your life that you’re excited about – like backyard cricket, the Arctic Monkeys or beer.
What advice would you give students starting out? Your portfolio and any awards you might win will get you noticed, what kind of a person you are will get you the job. So work hard and don’t be a dick.
Also, make the most of any mentor programs available to you.
Whats on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months? I will be working at Meerkats, I’m really enjoying it and I’m looking forward to the new year. I’m teaching myself motion design and working to widen my skill set in the digital space. I have a number of passion projects that have taken a backseat recently that I am hoping to spend some time on this year. Then midyear I’m going to Europe for the first time which I’m super excited about. I’m going to buy a new camera, a new moleskin and have an adventure.