Some of my earliest creative memories are probably ones of me just drawing all the time, as most kids do, but never being told that it’s actually called illustration. Not that illustration is the main focus of my practice but I think that’s how everyone starts out.
The art curriculum in the Irish education system is very limited and a lot of people that i’ve met in college told me that they didn’t even know what design really was and to an extent they were even discouraged to pursue it by their teachers. One of the main reasons I didn’t go to college straight after secondary school, is that I didn’t even know what visual communications was. I worked in retail for two years and during this time a friend told me that the stuff I was making and what I was posting on my Tumblr was actually called graphic design, which was my eureka moment. I was lucky enough to get advice from friends that were already studying design which led me to create a portfolio while I worked, after which I then went on to apply to college and now after four years in IADT I haven’t looked back.
Nothing set in stone just yet! After working so hard for four years I plan on doing a little self care and travelling a bit, but at the same time I’m eager to work and to be honest I’m eager to earn some money. I’m definitely over being a poor student.
The Irish design community is amazing and there are lots of wonderful studios to work for here, so a lot to think about in terms of where I could start off. I’m also interested in working in another country for a while, there’s a graduate visa available for work in America which has always been appealing to me, but with all the great visa-free opportunities right on my doorstep in Europe, there is a lot to consider.
My boyfriend Simon and I also run our own little design practice called It’s Okay from the comforts of our bedroom so it could be possible that we continue and take things a bit more seriously, possibly getting a studio to start out with. I’ve enjoyed the freedom of working for ourselves but also feel I could learn a lot from spending time working in a studio.
ALWAYS Google your questions before asking an actual human. It shows independence and saves you from possibly bothering someone, this is especially true if starting out in a studio. Besides that it should definitely be ok to ask your peers and tutors questions.
Never underestimate the social aspect of this industry, so much work comes from just meeting people or even sharing stuff on instagram. However there is a really fine line between being friendly and being creepy.
Treat every project with the same enthusiasm! One of the best projects I ever worked on was something that I thought was going to be terrible because of the subject matter, when I began to change my attitude towards it, the project became a whole other thing.
Try your best to keep a healthy work / life balance, it will actually help you to maintain a positive attitude towards the work you do and let’s face it any time spent away from the computer will probably inspire you anyway. This actually kind of doubles as another lesson, I’ve definitely fallen victim to spending too much time looking at other peoples work online and then comparing yourself to them, it’s unhealthy but something that comes hand in hand with having so much information at the touch of a button. If you look beyond your computer your work will probably be the better for it.
As much as I would love to pour over a printed book for a couple of months it is painfully obvious that everything is becoming increasingly more digital. This is not necessarily a bad thing just an adjustment, I’m really interested in experimental digital experiences and that’s probably what Simon and I get asked to do the most when working under It’s Okay. I was lucky that during my time in college we also learned to code to a certain standard so I feel this is something that I will have to continue with after my studies end.
I think the idea of the traditional graphic design studio is also something that is being challenged. Big tech firms now having their own in-house studios and are offering graduates really competitive starting out wages. Compared to the low wage or even free internships that have been on offer in the past from smaller studios, it gives graduates another avenue of possibility and hopefully it encourages the same attitudes within independent studios. I just think that after four years in college, people shouldn’t work for free.