Original Interview: March 2014

Kate Pullen

Our Featured Graduate Kate Pullen is one talented lady! With a knack for amazing typography, blogging, illustration, design and, well, everything really! Here she spits nuggets of golden advice

What was your original plan before you graduated for getting a job and how does that compare to what really happened?
To be perfectly honest, by the end of my degree I was so happy to see the back of my folio that all I had planned was to enjoy a last, long uni summer before beginning the daunting task of finding a job. After three years with my head down (and another four years before that in another, unrelated degree), I had lost a little of the big picture, was confused about my direction, lacking confidence in my work, and ultimately desperate for some long-awaited routine and stability. However, as luck would have it, amidst all this angst a suggested job popped up in my email, for a junior graphic design and marketing role within a university and, just a few weeks after uni ended, I was very grateful to find myself employed.
The job market is tough, sometimes ridiculously so, and I know that I am very lucky to have ended up in this role. What I can say is that passion projects and nurturing other interests has certainly worked in my favour; I had kept a blog throughout uni and my writing helped land both an earlier internship, as well as the position I now hold. That, with no small amount of luck, a lot of passion and a willingness to work hard.

Do you have any tips for soon to be graduates or the best advice you received.
It may be obvious to everyone else, and I’m aware that it sounds like something from an afternoon special, but I really do think that one of the best things you can do is just be yourself, and stay true to what you enjoy doing. Even though I genuinely loved the years at uni, I spent a lot of my time there trying to pour myself into the mould of what I thought a ‘graphic designer’ ought to be. Now, one year out, I’m using all of my spare time to instead focus on the areas I love most – illustration and lettering – and I am so much happier for it. Fingers crossed it shows in the work, too!

Kate Pullen Melbourne

Kate Pullen Melbourne

Describe your typical day and what students can expect from working in industry.
When I began my degree I went in thinking that the only option at the other end was a Junior Graphic Designer within a Melbourne design studio. However that is so far from the truth, and my current job is testament to that. I do spend a lot of time designing – whether it be posters, publications, digital content or even smaller jobs like illustrating badges – but either side of that is a lot of writing, developing content for the website, and helping to manage certain social media platforms. The variety is a major plus, as well as the creative freedom I am granted in my position. I’m very aware that this is not necessarily common in a graduate job so I am trying my best to really run with it!

Who are your three most inspiring speakers?
This is tough. I am going to break the rules and mention four. Listening to Thomas Williams of Hunt and Co. speak at Semi-Permanent Melbourne this year was definitely a highlight. He’s also evidently a major Leonardo DiCaprio fan, so there’s that. Hearing from Shawn Stussy – creator of iconic fashion brand Stussy – at Carbon Festival was similarly inspiring. I now have a major girl crush on photographer Magdalena Wosinksa after hearing her present and finally – something completely out of the realm of design – comedian Tim Minchin is always really great to listen to, especially his recent address for a graduation ceremony at the University of Western Australia (watch it here).

Kate Pullen Melbourne

Kate Pullen Melbourne

What would be the five things you would make sure you had done before you graduated if you went back and did it all again?
The wonderful Gabby Lord (interviewed by TDK earlier) said she’d change nothing at all, and I think I agree. As much as we love to say we’d do things differently if we had our time over again, I think as long as you’re learning from your experiences, you’re doing the best that you can. Don’t worry, I agonise over decisions continuously – whether they be design- or life-related dilemmas – but I don’t think I’d be here now if I hadn’t waded through all that crap beforehand. Sometimes I do think it’s just too easy to say ‘if it’s meant to be, it’ll be’, because it can sound like a bit of a cop out, can’t it? But by saying that it doesn’t mean you don’t work your arse off, or you stop trying to be a good person, I think it just helps to maybe not sweat the small stuff, and let things happen in their own time.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Ahh, the five years question. So daunting. I get a little apprehensive planning too far ahead because I don’t want to play chicken with the universe and then get bitch-slapped for being too cocky. However! If I could have the opportunity to spend my days illustrating, squeeze in a little travel, regularly talk and work with wonderful creative people, and have my health, friends and family, I will be a happy gal.

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Kate Pullen Melbourne