Featured Students

Camille Charbonneau

January 2017

For such an industry newbie, TDK Awards '16 winner, Camille Charbonneau, has some killer advice for students and grads! We talk about the pressure to find a style (and subsequent panic attacks), making the most of class assignments, and being your own boss (#girlboss)!

When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started?

Right after high school, I studied Architecture for a year. The interesting mix of mathematics, physics and artistic creation was what first got me into this field of study. However, in the second semester, I had an Introduction to Graphic Design class and absolutely loved it. I immediately knew I wanted to pursue this interest and make a career out of it. I decided to switch schools and have now been studying Graphic Design for the last 6 years. I am graduating in May and can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for me!

What are your three must-read design books/blogs/podcasts and why?

Design books and inspiration websites have an important place in my creative process. I use Behance and Instagram to see what’s trending around the world and to promote my work. Yet, at the beginning of a project, I like to stay away from the web and focus more on my creative instinct. One of the first books that inspired me (and that still does today) is the Keith Haring biography. I’ve always been drawn to the simplicity and strength of his illustrations. The book, in addition to having an awesome pink cover, features texts of the artist himself and people that surrounded him. It’s a great way to have a glimpse of how he saw the world.

Another interesting read is Work for Money, Design for Love by David Airey. This designer, who also has a fantastic blog (davidairey.com), shares his tips on how to start and run a successful design business. Both the book and the website are filled with useful advices for students and junior designers. My last recommendation would have to be A Smile in the Mind by Beryl McAlhone. This inspirational book takes a look at the place of 'witty thinking' in design. Full of interviews with famous designers around the world, joyful concepts and clever ideas, it always finds a way to inspire me.

Who are your top five design crushes right now?

It changes everyday, but here are my current favorites :
1. Nouvelle administration
2. Hey Studio
3. Chris Delorenzo
4. Supermundane | Rob Lowe
5. Marta Veludo 

How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others?

At first, I didn’t really enjoy working on illustrations. At school, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to find a style, something that would set me apart from everybody else and it didn’t do anything but give me panic attacks. So, I took a break from illustration projects, explored different approaches and studied other illustrators’ work for a while. It’s only when I understood what I liked in an artwork that I really could develop my own aesthetic. Also, I don’t focus that much on my “style” anymore, I have learned to simply trust my intuition and to do what I think goes with the brief while still looking good.

What advice would you give students starting out?

As a graduating student who also works as a graphic designer, the most important thing I have learned these past few years is the value of school projects. Class assignments are the best way to explore different creative solutions, to make mistakes and to learn from them. “It's through mistakes that you actually can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good.” This quote from Paula Scher embodies in my opinion exactly what school is about. Students starting out should therefore make the most out of their school journey, have fun with their projects and enjoy the liberty that it offers them because the working industry doesn’t always allow time to test things out.

Whats on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?

Honestly, my plan for the next year is not so clear. Finishing school scares me a little, but also gives me a lot of drive and ambition. The next step is to go with the flow and keep learning along the way. As someone who enjoys working hard and has a lot of dreams, I want to seize as much opportunities as I can. In the future, having my studio, sharing my passion and being my own boss (#girlboss) is something I would like to try out. Travel and international collabs are also on my list for 2017!

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