I had absolutely no plan. At the time I was really questioning what I was passionate about and my career path. I slapped together a student portfolio and reached out to a few companies in Ottawa, where I was living. I was offered jobs such as a corporate designer for a local museum and a small corporate boutique shop as a junior designer, which I ended up turning both of those job offers down while still in school to pursue some music side projects and personal artwork.
I found my place in a bar in Ottawa, right place right time kind of scenario. I was chopping it up with some of the local designers who worked for some of the bigger creative firms in town and I knew that’s where I could fit in. I was looking for an energetic and charismatic environment that would inspire me to push where my design work. Luckily, a family friend was a Senior Art Director at one of the most competitive shops in town at the time. I emailed him many, many times which finally got me into the shop for a tour. I kept presenting my portfolio and improving it slowly over time until I got an internship with them. Leading me to the first 3 years of my professional life working as a creative designer at Fuel Industries.
My practice is named Night Shift, which is my small design studio of 4 members. The name came to me while I was working at Amazon as a visual designer for their video department. I’ve always taken on moonlighting jobs and worked every night after my 9-5 to develop my personal design work. I would frequently take red-eye flights to Toronto and Los Angeles to work on my freelance projects on Friday nights. Which out came the name Night Shift, Many of the clients I worked with during this time are now clients of Night Shift. Night Shift to me is really a representation of the process.
Working in a creative environment, a typical day is very rare. I generally work with 5-10 clients at a time, which really could mean anything. However I do have rituals to manage my workload, I spend time briefing my team early in the day, responding to client emails, taking work inquiries and negotiating rates. I do generally spend time each day creating new pitches for work that interests myself and my team. Following the massive list of emails, generally I will spend 12-6 daily working on design projects myself.
Developing my style came from many, many years of getting bored with what I was good at. I’ve always been drawn to typography and lettering arts, which encompass a small portion of the work done at Night Shift. Like many of you I'm sure, growing up I was fascinated with drawing logos, graffiti, punk and skateboarding culture which really got me into drawing letters at a young age. With a traditional type history education, I was able to take this street style of letterforms I had been drawing, and convert them into a mixed style between street/traditional lettering. Truthfully, I feel like I've only found my style in the past year or two which would mean I had about 8 years prior that I was very inspired by brands and other artists that I loved from the time. My tips are pretty simple here, learn from what you like and adapt it to what you’re working on and focus on being great at the groundwork of your study, mastering the basics go a long way in terms of being able to scale your artwork to other styles and variations.
Your style can be made into a profession. Freelance is hard but very possible.
Cold call as many people as you admire you can. It works. Surround yourself with people who push your work and your strategy.
Take the risk or lose the chance.