We talk to TDK Awards ’16 winner, Stephen Grace, about naps before dinner (preach!), researching your potential employer, and a typical working day at Christopher Doyle & Co.
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design? In primary school an older kid showed me how to use the lasoo tool and cut out shapes of images. I had an idea to shoot photos of myself all over the playground and comp them together so there were ten Stephen’s in the one playground. The validation and encouragement from teachers and parents was intoxicating. I got a taste for design and wanted to learn how to do more, what else I could do in the tools. It started a path of self-learning and discovery of how to use image editing software through tutorials and online lessons. I’ve been drunk on that feeling ever since: making something visual that people get excited by.
What was your plan for graduating and what actually happened? I was lucky enough to be working in-house as a designer already while I was still studying part-time at Shillington. As I was finishing up the course in November, I decided to hand in my resignation for the end of January. It was a way of giving myself an ultimatum and forcing myself to get a job where I would be mentored and able to grow as a designer. I wasn’t actively looking for anything yet but in December I saw a post from Christopher Doyle looking for a designer with a bit of previous design experience. By January I had a few conversations with Chris and he offered me a position in the studio.
Whats the big goal in the next five years? My rough goal in the next 5-10 years is to move to Spain (Barcelona in particular). Apart from being a bloody gorgeous city with an eclectic art and design scene, the whole country supports naps before dinner, something I already try implement into my life. But more specifically my plan is to create meaningful work, make people smile and try everyday to be a good, kind person.
What does a typical working day include for you right now? We are a small studio so we start with a daily check in to plan what we’ll do for the day. Then it mostly involves sketching, reviewing work on the wall, researching a job, grabbing a pork roll for lunch, and getting into InDesign and digitising some ideas. We all tend to work on separate projects under Chris’ direction. However for the big stuff we will all contribute together to get the most amount of ideas out there.
What career advice would you give your 16yr old self? You really should not study law, that’s going to be a couple grand that you should save for something more exciting, like rent in Sydney. You should pursue the design thing.
What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way? 1. Try hard. (To learn and be better.)
2. But not too hard. (To be liked, or wishing for something to happen.)
3. Research your employer. (When I moved to Sydney from Adelaide I had some shocker interviews where I was severely underprepared and ill-informed.)
4. Write. (I’m just grasping how important words are in selling visual ideas.)
5. Say thanks. (Thank you TDK for the chat.)