When my best friend and I were 10 we set up our first design business making printed t-shirts. I made our business cards and everything — we set up at the car boot sale in Falmouth and sold 2 bags to our mums. That didn’t stop us though —14 years on and she’s an illustrator with her first book published and I’m designing much more professional-looking (hopefully) business cards for myself.
I was in New York interning for a new music talent development agency – supposedly in A&R but I ended up working as the main designer for their marketing and social media content. Even as an amateur I could see that their branding was pretty terrible but they were very set on keeping it so I did the best that I could. It made me learn that as a designer starting out you’re not always going to have the same point of view as your clients – but even so you always try your hardest, be patient, and use the resources you have to create in the best way you can within the limits of their brief.
Interning is a great way for a new graduate to experience different types of studios, see how they work and try and discover where you fit as a designer. It’s an opportunity you wouldn’t get in many other careers and can really help you find a job you love, with projects that excite you and people you connect with.
Just take every opportunity that comes your way – you never know where it might lead or who you might meet. In my third year of Uni, I entered a competition which a lot of people didn’t enter because they didn’t like the brief. A creative director from Ogilvy was at the awards ceremony and offered me an internship on the spot — which was obviously a great experience and has opened a lot of doors for me professionally.
Also, talk to as many people as you possibly can. You’ll be surprised who you already know through family and friends. If you work hard, keep moving towards something and are passionate and excited about what you do it will lead to something.
Being socially and ethically conscious should be at the heart of everything we do. We need to recognise the impact of design for good as well as bad. We should be thinking about how we can be more sustainable with every decision we make from using recycled materials to not accepting work that could have a negative impact on people and the environment.
And hire more women: 70% of graphic design students are women, yet only 3% are creative directors. Even renowned competitions fail to include female designers on their judging panels. Men are dominating the higher tiers and women are a minority. Primarily, it's unequal, but additionally, it’s disheartening for a woman coming into graphic design to have few female role models to look up to, and instead a sea of straight white men.
We need to do more to create opportunities for women and promote a more inclusive industry for everyone. Those in leadership positions need to think about if they’re doing everything they can to promote diversity – in its widest sense - and if not, why?
Two Times Elliott – I just love their style, and their work for Virgin Atlantic was a simple but brilliant idea, beautifully executed.
Templo – They tackle some important issues using design and promote creativity for change. Their work is well thought out, human-focused and individual.
Mother – How can you fault them?
That Thing – A studio who realise how important great words are in design, and how the power and visual impact of words should not be an afterthought but an integral part of the design process.
Lovers – They provide really clever solutions to briefs, and their work has such an energetic and dynamic feel to it.
And also My Dad – He is my ultimate design icon, his work ethic, individuality, devotion, modesty and purely genius way of thinking about things as a self-taught artist is something I will always admire.