Featured Students

Devon McGowan

February 2017

We chat with TDK Awards '16 winner, and Hoyne internship recipient, Devon McGowan. Devon believes that without a strong concept nothing you do will be more than decoration. Plus, she tells us about coloring in her mums architectural drawings and how to make the most of your schooling years.

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?

I remember coloring in my mother’s architectural drawings she had brought home from work on the kitchen table when I was really little. My mom taught me about design principles while I was growing up– proportion, contrast, balance, etc. They were conversations we had across different spectrums of art and design. I changed what profession I wanted fairly often while growing up but it was always something creative.

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

I had always taken a lot of art and photography classes while growing up l but I first fell in love with design my senior year in high school. I enrolled in an interactive design class without truly knowing what I was getting into and discovered the world of graphic design. I remember getting really into Pinterest. From then I completely changed what I wanted to major in, from film to visual communications, and the rest was history.

What have been some of your biggest disasters and how have you learnt from it?

I’d say some of my worst projects definitely hit the fan because of failure to develop a strong concept at the beginning. If you don’t have a clear and strong conceptual background before designing then nothing you do will be more than decoration. And I think great design lives in the idea. Also setting expectations is extremely important. I learned that from my first freelance job when the client kept coming back after they paid me a flat fee and I eventually had to have the hard conversation that I couldn’t do more work for them without being compensated. They were another student group that hadn’t used a freelancer before so neither of us knew what we were doing. It definitely would have been better to set exact expectations in writing from the beginning.

Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt?

I keep seeing the interactivity across platforms of design between digital mediums and find that really exciting. Most of my training has been in print design so I’m taking time now to expand my knowledge in motion and web design. I think its an exciting time to be a designer because the world and how we interact with technology is changing so rapidly and it’s something I’d like to be a part of.

What advice would you give students starting out?

I would say to take your time in school to really absorb everything you can. As I’m coming to my graduation I realize what a gift your years in school are for growth and experimentation. Steep yourself in art and design history; seek out opportunities to create outside of class. Don’t be too crushed or overconfident if a professor hates or loves your work– opinions can vary. And definitely study abroad if you can! Traveling can teach you a lot about life and design from different perspectives.

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

Within the year I’ll be graduating from the University of Kansas and starting my internship at Hoyne in Sydney. It’s an absolute honor to have been selected and I’m really excited to get going.

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