Shauna and Simon are the power duo behind It's Okay—both of them managed hustled their way into the industry before even graduating (Shauna is still studying!) It's Okay has been creating awesomeness over the past two years, they share with us some handy advice for those starting out. Defiantly some peeps to keep your eyes on!
What was your plan for graduating and what actually happened?
Simon: I had planned to work on my portfolio extensively and then apply for interviews in any studio that would let me in the door. Luckily the good people at Conor & David (now working under the moniker of WorkGroup) let me interview before I had even finished my degree show. Before I knew it an internship somehow turned into a job and that was that.
Shauna: I actually haven't graduated yet, but i'm about to enter into my final year of Visual Communication in IADT. I've also been lucky enough to spend some time working in WorkGroup. (I'm not copying Simon, I promise.) After that, we plan on seeing/living/working in some other countries. In saying that, Simon and I have been working together for over two years and I've been doing some work on my own. Waiting to finish college to start working never made much sense to me.
Whats your take on internships? (do you take interns now?)
We’re not really sure the standard studio model is the one for us. We get internship requests all the time and do our best to reply to everyone but it seems unlikely that we’ll be expanding anytime soon for multiple reasons. We like doing the work and the idea of delegating less exciting tasks to someone 'below' us sounds pretty weird right now.
At the same time, we think internships are great. They open a lot of doors and give a lot of insight and we’ve both benefitted greatly from the time we’ve spent with other studios. Even to just get a glimpse of how an actual business functions is a revelation.
On the concept of internships as a whole, while we do think predominantly positive things we have seen a bunch of situations where people have been taken advantage of. Our advice would be to make sure you are getting what you deserve, financially or otherwise, out of the process.
What advice would you give students starting out?
Google things thoroughly and only after you think you’ve exhausted every avenue possible ask a human being a question. The information is out there.
Try to meet people without being weird, the social aspect of our industry has proven itself way more fruitful than either of us could have ever imagined.
Get real work with a real client even if you don't know what you're doing. It sounds like a cliché but so much learning happens when you are frightened of disappointing a real person who is giving you actual money.
While we’ve never encountered it, a bunch of our colleagues have had experiences with students that were unbearable because the students had a little too much confidence upon leaving college. Don’t be like those people, none of us knows enough.
What role does digital design play in your studio in 2017, and how to you apply traditional graphic design skills in a digital age?
A large swathe of the work we do is digital but we don’t really consider ourselves a digital design studio. Graphic design skills are pretty evenly applicable to any medium. Obviously there are different considerations but as whole we don’t see the work we do in print to be that much different in approach to the work we do digitally. If we are being honest with ourselves, the possibilities of what you can do right now with interactive work are pretty mesmerising, new ground is broken every day, but if we could pore over a book for the next few months we absolutely would.
What is the design landscape like in your city and where do you fit in?
Dublin has an amazingly tight-knit design community which we feel lucky to be a part of. The landscape is similar to that of most cities, ranging from studios of varying sizes to freelancers and in-house teams but the unique thing about Dublin is the ways in which these interact. Sometimes it feels like everyone knows everyone. We’re not really sure where we fit in to be honest and we’re kind of happy about that.
Whats on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?
Shauna's going to complete her degree and then we’re off to Tokyo for a few months. After that who knows. At the moment our personal lives and our work lives are very much intertwined, we plan on finding out if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
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