We work across a range of disciplines – anything you can touch, see, or interact with – but branding is always at the heart of it all. The principles of great design aren’t bound by the limitations of print, web, packaging, experiential, app design, or whatever other label you want to throw at a project.
Michael Beirut - “How To”
This book will give you a really good perspective on why design is more than just making the world look pretty. Beirut is renowned for his leadership in design, but his skills as a communicator are equally on-point.
Walter Isaacson - “Steve Jobs”
What a cliché to talk about Apple in a design interview… but there’s a lot you can learn from the man known for his pursuit of perfection – an honest look at a business leader who valued design above all else, and how that impacted the way he treated people around him.
Josef Müller-Brockmann - “Grid Systems”
If you’ve never picked up a copy of this, you probably shouldn’t be allowed to graduate.
Lindsay Camp - “Can I Change Your Mind?”
Not a “design book” as such, but communication is such a crucial part of the industry, this book is a great read for student designers or anyone starting out.
A high standard of finishing and presentation is key. If you take pride in your work, you’ll go the extra mile to finish your mockups carefully and get nice photos of your projects. You should probably make friends with a talented photographer now – they’ll be invaluable when you get out there in ‘the real world’.
It’s also worth proofreading everything before you send your portfolio off. It’s amazing how many people reach out to us that have obviously not checked their work. You don’t need to have the world’s best grammar and spelling, but if written English isn’t your strong suit, get somebody else to go over it with you. Again, it all comes down to taking pride in your work.
Letting a client direct a project to the point where we lost all passion for it – once you’ve crossed that line, there’s no turning back. It can be hard to find the balance between turning into another overly-defensive designer vs. fighting for the ideas you really believe in. Never lose sight of the fact that you’re ultimately doing this work to benefit the client, and if you don’t achieve the best outcome, neither do they. An external perspective can help too – with hindsight you’ll sometimes learn that the best outcome wasn’t what you first thought it would be.
Plenty of people get fired up about how much they love the tactile nature of print – calm down, it’s not going anywhere. You can’t drink your coffee out of an iPad. There will always be a place for print design, but exactly what that looks like is changing.
Digital design is an established segment of the market and you can’t run from it – so yeah, it plays a huge part. The core principles of good design translate well enough from print to digital. We don’t have a print factory in our studio, but we know enough about the process to work closely with suppliers. The same is true of digital – you don’t have to be a world-class developer, but it wouldn’t kill you to dabble in a little HTML / CSS.
We might not have the best train network or sneaker shops, but because we’re small you’ll find a lot more opportunities here to meet face-to-face with the decision makers of new and established companies alike. For a city this size, everybody really does seem to know everybody else. You’ll be surprised at how opportunities just seem to fall from the sky, if you’re willing to put in a little hustle. That’s why there are so many small studios doing amazing work, not just the big players. And let’s be honest – the coffee isn’t any better in Melbourne.
Enjoy being 16. There’s a multitude of career pathways for creative people, so don’t get too hung up on exactly which discipline you’re going to chase. Venture out of your comfort zone and be willing to learn new things. You might just find you end up in an entirely different sphere of design than you first thought, or you might end up working across a range of them in a cross-disciplinary studio. If you’re cut out to be a designer (and ready to work for it), it will happen organically.
Someday when you look back on the stress of job interviews, portfolio reviews, and client meetings, you’ll be amazed at how it all just seems to fade away – the only thing that will really stand the test of time is the work you create. The other stuff is all definitely important now, but don’t lose sight of why you do it.
Learn to take criticism well – this industry is built on it. Whether it’s feedback from a client or a more senior art director, your ideas are not always perfect. Stay passionate about what you do. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t get discouraged by disapproval.
Don’t go attacking each other. Kiwis often talk about ‘tall-poppy syndrome’, and it can be pretty common in the creative field. The reality is when one designer succeeds, they’re raising the bar for all of us, by showing people outside the artistic community the importance of good design. Celebrate the success of other creatives.