Category Archives for Design Journey
Happy Tuesday everyone! Today we have the lovely Brittany Sharp here on Design Journey! I met Brittany as a fellow designer on Twitter and always am encouraged by her beautiful spirit that comes through her posts- even on the internet! I’m happy to have her share some wisdom and great thoughts with you today on being and becoming a graphic designer. Enjoy!! Hello! I’m Brittany – a 24 year old graphic designer, photographer & business owner of Swell Studios. I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida and the day after graduation (yes, literally the day after I got my diploma) I moved to Atlanta , GA to go to bible college. Its been a crazy journey but the best one ever. I have learned more about myself than I thought I ever could and am doing things I never thought I would do.
How did you first get into graphic design? I was volunteering at my church and I noticed that there was a need for graphic designers so I jumped right into it. I started googling how to do EVERYTHING, watched hours of tutorials, read a few books, started designing some really bad things (at the time I thought they were good!) and taught myself. I was going to school for marketing so I took some art/graphic classes to get a better understanding of how it all worked. I can’t even begin to tell you how many hours I put into it but when you put everything you have into something and focus on it, you get good. Little did I know that filling a need would lead into so much!
What was your first paid design job? Volunteering at my church actually led to a job at my church doing graphic design and managing all the marketing. From working at church and getting better at my craft, the idea of starting my own studio was birthed. How have you been able to make a name for yourself in the design community? I am still making a name for myself & Swell Studios. The steps I am taking to get there are networking with fellow designers and business owners, blogging, and using social media. I really do believe that you need to spend money to make money, when it comes to marketing, but social media and blogging are such a good & FREE resource (I am sure you all can relate that FREE is like pure gold!). I have been able to gain many followers and grow my name through both my blog and social media presence.
If you don’t know where to start, start with those two. I promise you will see results if you actively work for it.
What has been the scariest thing about transitioning to freelancing full time? The best? Not having constant jobs gets pretty scary at times. Sometimes a project will go for a few months which provides some stability but other months you have to really “work” for new clients. When you are at a 9-5 job, you have comfort but stepping out on your own requires faith, boldness, and confidence. The best is being able to pick up jobs you actually are passionate about. I also love making my own schedule. If I want to work from my house or go work at a coffee shop, I can do that Being that you didn’t go to school for design, how have you been able to find work in the field? Networking, networking, networking!! I went to school for marketing so I did establish a lot of great connections with professors and fellow students that have referred me work. I also just got really bold and went up to people and told them what I did. If they were a business owner or a marketplace leader, I told them that I had a studio that did small business marketing, graphic and web design, and photography. I went out there and marketed myself (and I still do) – I had to get bold & get clients or I was going to be eating air. What is one quality you think all designers should have? Be able to take constructive criticism. As a designer and business owner, you put your heart and soul into a piece and when a client wants changes, you can take it to heart. I have learned (and am still learning!) to put pride aside and deliver exactly what the client wants even if that means you have to correct what you just spent hours on. When we get to that place with our designs, it puts us in a place where we can be teachable and develop more into our gifting. We all want to be extraordinary at what we do, but allowing others to speak into our work allows us to grow and become as great as we can be. It also shows the client that you can go with the flow and accommodate what they want.
How do you plan to grow your business in the next year? What about three years? Like I said above, its all about networking. I heard that a lot in school and now that I am in the freelancing world, that couldn’t be more true. Its all about who you know and how bold you are willing to get. I am constantly passing out my business card, going to blogging events in Atlanta, and emailing people to get the word out and establish more connections. But honestly, most of my business comes through word of month. I also plan on attending some design conferences and networking with other designers. It may lead into work but more importantly it will give me the opportunity to meet great designers and get inspired by them.
I am also taking a leap into the blogging world. Its great for potential clients to see who I am. I want my blog to feature who I am as well showcase what I am working on.
Good morning friends!! I’m sorry I’ve been absent for a bit on the blog- I’m cutting back on my every day posts to just post 3-4 times a week. It’s a busy time of year for me, & I want to make sure I keep my priorities straight… so blogging everyday is just not able to happen!
BUT with that being said- I have an awesome lady for Design Journey today. Jen Serafini is a lovely designer and person. I got to know her through Twitter and hope to have the opportunity to hang out with her in person sometime soon! Working with companies like Pepsi, Gatorade, and Tropicana, Jen balances agency work with freelance graphic design, art direction, and keeping up with her blog. I really don’t know how she does it all so well. But I am so pleased to have her here today. Enjoy! Hi! My name is Jen Serafini and I’m a communications designer and art director living in Chicago. For me, design is all about challenging ourselves to communicate ideas through telling unique stories and making strong statements about brands, people & businesses.
When did you decide you wanted to be a graphic designer? I knew I wanted to be a graphic designer since I was young. I didn’t quite know what it meant, but I knew I lovedtypography, working with images in Photoshop and collecting awesome packaging. I used Photoshop to edit pictures of Justin Timberlake and Carson Daly, oh the good old days It’s funny seeing how much I didn’t know about it; design is much more than that, but at the time it was my source of inspiration. I had always been involved in fine art from a young age, and then in high school I took a class called Graphic Design. From then on I knew that’s what I wanted to pursue and tailored my college search around it!
How did you transition from being a student in school to being a designer in the “real world”? My program at Syracuse University actually did a really good job of preparing us to make that big step into the real world; how to be professional, deal with clients, etc. Even with all of the preparation though, there’s no way to fully know what you’re getting yourself into. There were definitely a ton of things that I didn’t know starting my first job. In order to make a smooth transition, I did everything I could to learn from others and was not afraid to ask questions! No question is a dumb question when you’re first starting out, and most people are open and willing to help you any way they can.
What was your first paid design job? Before I started working at an advertising agency, my first paid job was actually as a freelance designer for Kiehl’s in NYC. It was temporary, but the brand is one of my favorites so it was really fun to work on! I learned a lot in a short period of time and it gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my first full-time job. How have you been able to make a name for yourself in the design community? Last fall I decided to start blogging as a creative outlet beyond my full-time job. I wanted a way to connect with other creatives, share inspiration and start to take on more freelance projects. I am SO happy I decided to do this; since September I’ve connected with so many amazing creatives across the country who have the same interests as I do. Blogging is a great way to show your perspective as a designer and give people a look inside your process, outlook and things that inspire you.
What is one quality you think all designers should have? I think it’s so important for designers to be able to pull inspiration from the world around them and come up with unique ideas that push the boundaries of creativity. A great designer has the ability to question the norm, challenge what’s already been done and make it better. What advice would you give to a new graphic designer? Be persistent and ask questions! There are so many opportunities that I would not have gotten if I wasn’t persistent. Also, never stop reading, learning and practicing. My professors always told me how important it was to continue your education and build on what you already know. A concept/personal project is a great way for you to test your skills and create something that you can add to your portfolio.
Thanks Jen! Love your drive and knowledge of what you want, even from a young age! I still don’t know how you do it all…
Jaymee Zeller Harney is a beautiful recently married designer who has also just recently left her corporate job to do freelance graphic design. I follow Jaymee’s adorable blog and thought it would be great to do an interview with someone who has just recently made the switch to freelance! She offers a fresh perspective, has great work and equally great blog where she documents the simple adventures of her everyday life living in Hawaii. So here she is! Enjoy! Hi! My name is Jaymee and I recently left corporate America to pursue freelance graphic design! I am originally from Southern California, but moved to Hawaii 4 years ago after graduating from UC Santa Barbara. I married my college sweetheart this past November and we currently live in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. My company is called JayAdores Design Co. and will be launching very soon! I love designing everything from wedding and event invitations to event details and signage, creating marketing collateral for small businesses, and doing some web design as well. How did you first get into graphic design? Oh gosh – ever since I was little, I remember always playing around on my family’s computer in Print Shop and Corel Paint Shop. I loved creating signs, invitations, posters, cards, pretty much anything and everything that required paper + a computer! I’m pretty sure all of my friends/family have never received a store bought card from me because I love making them myself! I’ve always been fascinated with fonts, too…I remember in junior high I would download company logos from the Internet and spend hours trying to find fonts to match them (yep, I was kind of dorky). In college, I got Adobe Creative Suite, learned how to use the programs, and have been playing around on them ever since.
What was your first paid design job? Hmmm…does family count? Ha, I designed my mom’s business cards a few years ago! She runs an event decorating/balloon company and I designed a few things for her business. How did you come to the decision to transition from working full time to freelancing? After working 3.5 years in public accounting, I knew it wasn’t for me. I came home stressed, sometimes to the point of tears, because I was working 12-16 hour days and didn’t see an end in sight. The nature of that industry is very demanding and the creative side of me felt trapped. I actually enjoy doing taxes, but found it nearly impossible to maintain a balance between work and my other passions. My love for design seemed to be growing exponentially and when I realized that people would actually PAY me for it…that’s when I started to consider making the switch. After lots of praying, talking with my fiance-now-husband, and saving money, I quit the week before our wedding and haven’t looked back!
What has been the scariest thing about transitioning to freelancing full time? The best? The unsteady income/lack of benefits is definitely a scary change coming from corporate America. However, the best part is loving what I do so much that it doesn’t feel like work. I also love making my own schedule. Being able to work on my own terms (in coffee shops some days, at home most days, and working some nights [when the creativity is flowing] from 5pm – 3am for example) is something I really value.
Being that you didn’t go to school for design, how have you been able to find work in the field? Two words: social media! Honestly, starting a blog was probably the best thing I ever did! When I first started my blog, pursuing design as my full-time job was an extremely far-off-in-the-future dream, but I still used it as my creative outlet to showcase random design projects I would do for family and friends. A few bloggers that I had connected with e-mailed me inquiring about design services and from there, I got referrals and people started following my blog. Then Instagram came into the world…and that opened up even more doors! People saw some of the stuff I designed for our wedding and contacted me about doing some design details for them too. It’s all still really crazy to me, but I’m so flattered and grateful for the opportunities! As silly as social media can be at times, it really is the main reason I have clients right now.
What is one quality you think all designers should have? Good communication skills. I think communicating with current and potential clients is such an important part of running a business! Being personable, friendly, and timely with e-mails is something I really strive to do as part of delivering distinguishable client service. Even with planning our wedding, the vendors who replied within a day or two and sounded friendly in their emails are the ones we ended up choosing! How do you plan to grow your freelance career in the next year? What about three years? In the very near future (hopefully sometime in March!) I will be doing a grand launch of my new brand/website/portfolio/blog and I am SO excited about it. It really is a dream come true and I never thought it would be happening so soon! Once I have my company established on the interwebs, I will be utilizing social media to get the word out. In the next year or so, I would love to open up an online stationery boutique to sell specialty stationery and other paper goods. I also have another side project currently in the works with my sister!
Thanks so much Jaymee! Can’t wait to see your business grow! Find more of Jaymee here:
Dribbble | JayAdores…
Whether you’re a fashion junkie, a design lover, or you just enjoy nice people- you will for sure fall in love with Lindsey. Co-founder of the Coast to Coast Challenge, and a graphic designer with some amazing fashion taste- and a huge heart for people, Lindsey is nothing short of a special talent. I was so happy when she agreed to be on Design Journey and tell us all a bit about her inspiring story of how she got to where she is today!
Hello, Hello to all! I am Lindsey Eryn Clark. I am a middle child who believes in adventure, dreaming, and taking the road less traveled. This explains why I spent seven years in the middle of Oklahoma. Born and raised in San Diego, I left home at 18 ready to explore the world. Seven years later, I have come full circle and find myself back in the motherland [San Diego]. However, a couple thousand lattes and a million miles later, I am different person than when I left. I am no small dreamer. I believe that as humanity we were created to create, and that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to. I am a humanitarian whose feet long to be on foreign soil, working in the orphanages and red light districts of Cambodia. I am a psychology major who gets giddy over human resources, dreams about hosting events for thousands, and is fascinated by the music industry and all it entails. By day I am a real estate agent, and by night I am a social entrepreneur, a writer, and a designer.
When did you decide you wanted to be a graphic designer?
To be honest, I feel like a series of life events made the decision for me to be a graphic designer more than I did myself. Throughout my time in college I was passionate about several things, two of which included, events and social justice. I was a part of a student led group on campus that hosted a variety of events throughout town in order to bring awareness to some of the world’s greatest injustices. I remember the day and moment distinctly when the idea came to learn graphic design. I was in the process of planning a benefit art show and was waiting for the designer to deliver the poster to promote the event. Well, the waiting never ended. The designer never delivered the design. Scrambling to find someone who knew Photoshop to come to my rescue, I told myself that I was going to learn design so that I wouldn’t have to depend on so many people to get an event promoted!
This experience combined with coming to the harsh reality that I could not draw or paint to save my life led me to the wonderful world of graphic design.
Looking back, I am so glad that the designer never delivered the poster design for my event. It was a divine accident. If he would have delivered the design, I may have never decided to learn graphics. I do not know where I would be today if I did not have design as part of my skill set. Learning graphics was like a domino effect of opportunities. The knowledge of design has empowered me to help others reach their goals, while also helping me achieve my own. This past August I co-founded Coast To Coast Central, a social enterprise that focuses on challenging, inspiring, and empowering women through the use of fashion. Today, not only is the social enterprise boosting the self-esteem and confidence of women around the globe, but it is also working to build a rescue home for victims of sex trafficking in Quito, Ecuador.
How did you transition from being a student in school to being a designer in the “real world”?
In 2009, I graduated from Oral Roberts University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology– at that point the extent of my exposure to the world of design was a one-hour lesson over a cup of coffee. Shortly after graduating I decided to intern at a non-profit organization, Go International, that thrived off of creative elements. During my time at the organization, I was exposed to a variety of design and creative styles and had the opportunity to learn from some of the most talented designers in the industry. With a desire to learn and stretch my skill set, I found myself merely watching the other designers work on designs, soaking in how they moved around in the programs and asking a lot of questions along the way. My knowledge in design began to grow, and with it little projects here and there. Working for an organization where everything produced was done “in-house” meant there was a high demand for everyone to pitch in when and where they could. With that said, as my skills developed slowly but surely projects were thrown my way. Project after project, I saw my skills were being stretched and realized that I was being given projects that were beyond my skill set in order to force me to grow as a designer. Thankfully, the scheme of my mentors worked. The combination of projects, constructive critiscm, and diligence to learn presented me with the opportunity to expand my work outside of the organization. The majority of the designers that worked for the organization also doubled as free-lancers. So, when my designer friends found themselves jammed packed with projects they began referring their clients to me. Before I knew it I found myself with a few clients and new projects were always on the rise. My experience with the organization and personal clients proceeded to present me with the opportunity to design for a network of colleges in Tulsa, Oklahoma. For me, transitioning into the real world as a designer was very organic and was one step at a time.
What was your first paid design job?
My first paid design job was a logo and some web-banners for a non-profit start up. While it was not necessarily the most exciting project that I have had the opportunity to work on, it was exciting and thrilling in its own way. You always remember your first client. I was standing in line at the airport when I got the email asking to take on the design project. I was floating on air and my heart soared to the moon and back. While I had been designing pieces for the non-profit, it was exciting to know that someone outside of the organization had taken notice of my work. The project was definitely a learning lesson of sorts, as all first jobs are! While it was not glamorous in anyway, shape, or form – I learned so much from that experience and project.
How have you been able to make a name for yourself in the design community?
One word: Networking!
There are two things that everyone in life needs to learn: people skills and networking!
They go hand in hand, and are key to being successful. I am blessed to say that a number of my closest and dearest friends are some of the most brilliant designers that I have ever encountered. There has definitely been a job or two that I have received because of their referrals. And yes, networking does include social networking. I am a firm believer in social networking and using it as a tool in order to help you achieve your goals. Every now and then I’ll post a design on my social networks – it’s wild how it works, but a number of my clients come from seeing my designs on Facebook or Instagram.
There are so many qualities that a designer could and ought to have, but I believe confidence may be the most important. A multitude of skills and qualities that a designer needs can be developed and learned over time, however, confidence is a choice. In any industry, it’s easy to let circumstances get in the way of your confidence. This is especially true when it comes to the arts. As designers and artists we are exposing ourselves, our ideas, our hearts, and our passions in a way that can leave us somewhat vulnerable. It is vital to remain confident in yourself, in your skill set, and in what you have to offer as a designer. Your confidence will always propel you forward. Over the course of time I have seen people and designers dwindle and fall behind not because they lack creativity or knowledge, but because they lack confidence. So with that said, be confident, know that you are good, believe in yourself and your ability to create something brilliant.
1. Realize that you and your art are unique. Resist comparing yourself to other designers or people; it will paralyze you and your creativity. As humans, we are all different. We see things differently, and experience things differently; therefore our art is unique to us. Embrace your style and your art for what it is. Expose yourself to new styles, but never compare yourself. It is when we begin to compare that we keep ourselves from effectively expressing ourselves.
2. Mess around, explore, experiment. Allow yourself to constantly be inspired! Travel the world, experience new cultures, use your hands, read books… experience life to the fullest. Inspiration is everywhere. It’s merely waiting for you to stumble upon it. The more you experience, the more you can be inspired to create something brilliant.
Find more of the amazing Lindsey here!
Twitter / Instagram: @lindseyeryn
Fashion Blog: www.coasttocoastchallenge.wordpress.com
Personal Blog / Design LookBook: www.thirdstoryapartment.wordpress.com…
I’m excited to say that today we have our first male Design Journey! Also the first “photographer” version. Introducing the amazing Brad Claypool. I worked with Brad at my first job out of school at a graphic design firm. He was and still is a talented designer, but focuses his time working on his photography- of which he is equally talented. Brad was recently married to his gorgeous wife Kelsey, check out their wedding photos– just gorgeous!! So without further adieu, here’s B-Rad! Hello! I’m Brad Claypool, I am a 25 yr old photographer living in Costa Mesa, CA. Currently shooting mostly weddings with some portrait work sprinkled in. I was married in July to my beautiful wife, Kelsie. When did you decide you wanted to be a photographer? It actually wasn’t until my senior year in college. I switched over from Marketing to Graphic Design and Digital Media my Junior year and realized this was the type of work that I loved to do. I focused mostly on design work because it paid the bills but photography was so intriguing to me. In early 2011 I shot my first wedding for a friend and was hooked.
How did you transition from being a student in school to being a photographer in the “real world”? I actually had to focus on design jobs in order to survive out in the “grown up” world and shot engagements, weddings, etc on the side to bring in some extra income. Then by word of mouth my business has been growing!
What was your first paid photography job? Good question. Hmm… I believe it was an engagement session for a buddy. How have you been able to find work and get your name out? Not easily. It’s difficult to find somebody who doesn’t call themselves a photographer these days. I have just focused on making my work as good as I can and letting people chose me over their brother’s friend Tom who will shoot for $50. My business is based mostly on references at this point. I don’t really do any kind of self-promotion besides having a website, blog, and facebook page that I update with new work. References are huge in this business. As with most professions, it’s all about who you know. I’m kind of half introverted and half extroverted so I have to rely on the extrovert side a lot to meet new people!
What is one quality you think all photographers should have? Let me start with a quality all photographers shouldn’t have… Don’t over process. Yes, everybody should be unique and experiment but applying a Photoshop action, on top of another action, on top of another, and then adding a glow. Please don’t. It’s funny how starting out my stuff was so overdone. It really just comes down to small tweaks is all!
I guess the quality photogs should have would be joy. Be friendly behind the camera and your clients will pick up on that. Have fun with your shoots. What advice would you give to a new photographer? See above and also experiment. Try new things. Find some inspiration, grab some friends, and go shoot! The only way to get better is to keep shooting. I’m still learning so many new things!
Thanks Brad! Get in touch with Brad and see more of his work here: Website // www.bradclaypool.com Facebook // www.facebook.com/bradclaypoolphotography Twitter // @bradclaypool Instagram // @bradclaypool
Design journey is back! I’m so happy to be kicking off this series again with a lovely UK designer I’ve gotten to know a bit on Twitter. Her name is Nesha Woolery, but her design identity goes by Betty Red. I was immediately drawn to the bold use of color and clean design on her blog– and have been following her ever since! It still weirds me out how we can make these awesome connections using Twitter- it’s Nesha’s main use of networking! Read on to see how she uses it and how it has brought her loads of work. Pretty awesome. Hey there! I’m Nesha, a web design specialist for creative women entrepreneurs. I specialize in creating quirky, irresistible web and blog designs that burst with personality and engage my clients most profitable market! My design studio and blog is called Betty Red, which is an old favorite pin up name I chose to use instead of my full name- my full name is pretty hard to spell and pronounce so I thought I’d save my clients the hassle!
On a personal note, I live and work from a small town in the UK, but love taking frequent trips to London with my boyfriend when we’re in need of some inspiration. London has an art scene that out-shadows anywhere else we can find in England. When I’m not designing, I love taking trips alone to art galleries, sketching people, and taking photos with my vintage cameras. I feel truly blessed in being able to live such a creative and fulfilling life.
When did you decide you wanted to be a graphic designer? When I was a kid I loved art, but I also loved writing, so I had my heart set on being a writer. When I was fourteen years old I entered a short story competition, won, and got to talk it up with a bunch of agents, authors and editors to discuss the life of a writer. One of the agents told me to start a blog to showcase my writing, so I did! The funny thing was, whereas people did like the way I wrote, they liked my blog design even more. And I surprised myself in how much I loved designing it!
So my desire to become a designer grew from there. I realized that I could communicate inspiration and passion much easier through visual designs than through writing. I also realized that I was much better at it! How did you transition from being a student in school to being a designer in the “real world”? I actually never went to a school for design, I didn’t have the circumstances to do so back then. I left school and went straight into working: first I waitressed, then I worked in telesales, then I finally landed a decent job working in the city for Calvin Klein Jeans. But I always had the deep desire to design, and I was determined to fulfill my dreams and not remain stuck and lost in a life that didn’t really feel like my own. While working all of those jobs I blogged in the evenings, took night classes on design, read tons of books, and built my experience in design through interning and self-initiated projects.
I then started getting a lot of my blog readers asking me to design blogs and websites for their businesses, so I started freelancing part time from that point!
I remember crying on my way to work one day because I so badly wanted to leave my job at CK and work for myself. I was so stressed out from working 9-5 then going home and working through the evening. I just knew that something had to give, and it wasn’t going to be the freelance career I had worked so hard to build!
So I rang my manager, told her I’d be handing in my notice that week, and that was the start of my Betty Red adventure. What was your first paid design job? My first paid design job was for a vegan clothing label in the US who wanted a blog to accompany their website. One of my all time favorite web designers had referred the owner to me, so I was super flattered and super excited! At the time, I think I charged something like £150, which is insane!! But it was my first real taste of freelancing, and I’m forever grateful to that first opportunity. It taught me quite a lot about communicating with clients and my work process. Every project I take on teaches me something new! How have you been able to make a name for yourself in the design community? Making a name for myself has never been high on my priority list, but it sure does help to know other designers and biz ladies online who can support you and understand you when times are hard!
Blogging and social media have really helped me get my name out there, especially Twitter! I use Twitter to make friends with other designers and women entrepreneurs. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Twitter. In fact, 50% of my clients find me through Twitter! With Twitter, its all about starting interesting conversations, making new connections and sharing helpful advice. What is one quality you think all designers should have? No designer should be afraid of failure. Fear of failure can eat you up inside and stop you from reaching your true potential. As freelancers, its down to us to expand our businesses through trying new things: offering new services, new products, specializing over generalizing… all of these things can be scary, but just because we may be afraid of them doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go for them anyway! Its often the ideas we’re most scared of that are the golden ones.
What advice would you give to a new graphic designer? The best thing a new graphic designer can do is get out there and make connections with other designers! Start conversations with other creatives through social media, meet local designers for coffee, attend conferences in the local area, collaborate with other newbies… The world of design can be a very lonely place if you don’t surround yourself with other like-minded people who can encourage, inspire and strengthen you.
Thanks so much for your words Nesha! You can find more of Betty Red design below:
Thanks so much for your words Nesha! Happy Tuesday everyone!…
Good morning friends! I’m here to introduce you to a truly wonderful human named Shayla. I got to know this fellow designer on Twitter and we got to emailing a bit. After encountering a few hiccups in my design process, I reached out to Shayla (who has been freelancing for 5 years) for advice. We ended up chatting on the phone for over an hour about clients, work and being a freelance designer! I have to say, it’s people like Shayla who make me love the internet and the opportunities it gives us. I could go on and on about her kind heart and giving spirit (she just sent me a lovely package with some beautiful prints from her shop!!) as well as her interesting journey to being a designer (she was a business major in college & born in Jamaica!) but I’ll let her take it from here!
Hi All, I’m Shayla! I’m a designer and photographer. I also really love to draw and I’m currently teaching myself to paint with watercolors. Whether I’m using adobe creative suites, a camera, a paint brush or actual pen and paper I feel most alive when I can bring a vision I have in my head to life.
On the personal side, I’m originally from Jamaica, since moving to the states when I was 5 I’ve lived in Miami FL, Arizona, Pennsylvania and I’m now happily residing in Northern Virginia just outside of Washington DC, I LOVE it here; I can honestly say there’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather live right now. I also recently got married to a super awesome guy who I first fell in love with when I was just 15 years old (it’s a long story you can read it here if you’re interested).
When did you decide you wanted to be a graphic designer? I always liked to draw and color and when I was child for some reason I also used to like using my ruler, pencil and school lined paper to draw very neat boxy houses (which may be why I still very much like neat boxy design). My first love of something design related was when my Grandmother took an interior design course when I was 15 years old; I’ve seriously considered that career path many times in my life.
Graphic design however never even crossed my mind until after I had graduated college and was working in the corporate world of marketing, but once I realized that this was something I could actually do for a living, that I could get paid to be creative and do what I love, there was no turning back!
A lot of people have told me that I should choose just one thing but I don’t agree. Everything I do creatively lives within me and to give one up would be like killing a part of me. Besides some of the most successful people in the world do much more than one thing and in other industries like the entertainment industry being what they call a “Triple Threat” is a good thing, so why can’t it be the same in the creative industry?
How did you transition from being a student in school to being a designer in the “real world”? I didn’t go to school for design, I have a BA in Business with a minor in Marketing (I also did a fair amount of studies in Psychology, English Literature and Theology; all career paths I considered at one time or another). My first corporate job was working for a commercial real estate company in Arizona that manages and markets the largest shopping malls in the state and throughout the entire United States.
That’s where I got lucky because my boss asked me one day if I could help the web team with some updates on one of the malls websites’ and I said sure not realizing then that that would lead to a lifelong love affair with graphic design and a whole new career path.
My boss was a wonderfully supportive lady and she quickly realized that I had a natural affinity for design and so she convinced the company to pay for me to take some design classes. Within the first hour of my first class I literally found myself thinking, “Oh design, where have you been all my life?” I knew it was a true passion but I also knew that there was no way I could afford to take the time or money to go back to school to get a degree in design so I taught myself all the things the classes I took didn’t or couldn’t teach me. I spent countless hours reading every design book I could get my hands, I would look up what books were used in the college classes and get them on Amazon and work my way through them. I also watched TONS of youtube videos and have found many helpful hints on a variety of different blog tutorials.
I used to have a lot of insecurities about not having a “degree” in design, but I’m completely over that now. I appreciate every step I’ve taken on my life path and believe I am exactly where I need to be when I am supposed to be there. It bothers me when I hear degreed Graphic Designers say that you have to have a degree to do this because it would be like me saying to them that they should not be freelancers running their own business because they don’t have a business “degree”. They have taught or are teaching themselves the business skills they need to run their business successfully so why can’t someone teach themselves the skills they need to be a successful designer? This may be even more true on the design side than the business side because in my humble opinion so much of what makes someone a good designer is simply the gifts that God gave them at birth and not at all something that you can learn in school. I also think that time and practice is key, in the book The Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell explains that studies have shown that it takes 10,000 hours to be a master at anything, given this reasoning it’s easy to see that if someone wants to be a great designer (or a great anything) all they need is some innate talent and lots of time and practice.
The truth is there are many paths to same end and I truly believe that we are all of us simply trying to find a way to live life more fully and do the things we love as much as we can, as best as we can.
What was your first paid design job? Well I guess my first paid design job was while working in the corporate world, I spent several years working for two different commercial real estate companies, a non-profit organization and an advertising agency.
But I really consider my first paid design job to be when I decided to go out on my own and do freelance work because that’s when I really had the freedom to design the way I wanted to and to work for the kind of clients that I am most passionate about.
How have you been able to make a name for yourself in the design community? Hmmm… I don’t know if I have and that may be because if I’m honest making a name for myself in the design community isn’t something I’ve ever given much thought to. When I started freelancing my only goal was to deliver quality work designed with lots of love and passion. I left the corporate world because I didn’t like the clawing and backstabbing that goes on as people try to make their way to the top so investing energy into that kind of thing as a freelancer was definitely not something I was interested in. I’m not saying that the design industry is filled with a bunch of backstabbers, in fact I’ve come to learn that there is a great deal of support amongst fellow designers, which is so lovely; but I think we all need to individually define what success means to us and for me, making a name for myself is not at that the top of that list.
I like living (and designing) quietly from home and making a name for myself (if that’s what I’m doing in anyway) amongst my clients so that they will continue to refer new clients my way and I will be able to continue to do what I love. In the end the only thing that matters to me is that I am a good person in the eyes of God, that I always do my best work and above all that I keep in mind and value the things that really matter in life, like love and grace, and compassion.
What is one quality you think all designers should have? Always be willing to challenge yourself and don’t box yourself into one style.
I’ve been told by many designers and photographers that to be really successful, you should have a “style”. I don’t agree, again if we look at the entertainment industry the best actors are those that can morph into many different characters; so why can’t I do that in design?
I do recognize however that much of my work has at the least a feeling of me, I’m not sure I can or should fully escape that but I try as much as I can to stretch myself and do things that I wouldn’t normally do because even if I’m not completely successful, it helps me grow as a creative.
So I say learn a new skill, create a font or pattern, trying drawing or painting; if you normally do modern design try something artistic or whimsical or vice versa. Don’t just stick to what you already know and never stop exercising your creative brain because it is like every other muscle, if you don’t use it, you lose it and to the same end, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes and you might be surprised at just how much you can create if you just try.
What advice would you give to a new graphic designer? DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS OR THEIR WORK. I truly believe that each person is created by God to be uniquely themselves and the worse thing you could do is to compare yourself or your work to someone else; or worse yet try to be someone else or mimic their work.
Some great words, Shayla! Thank you for sharing your unique perspective and advice with us all!
You can see more of Shayla’s work here:
design website: www.shaylagrace.com paper website: www.todayandalwayspaperie.com photography website: www.keephotographers.com my personal photography work: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shaylalafreniere/ blog: www.designingalifeblog.com
Though I’ve used Facebook for years personally and have been on Pinterest since the beginning, I only recently started blogging regularly this year and just two months ago I finally created Facebook business pages, joined Twitter and created a Flickr account. If I’m honest I think about cancelling my accounts daily and I’m still not sure if I’m doing any of it “right” but it seems to be a good way to connect with like minded people and though I like my alone time, the life of a freelance designer can be a bit a little too reclusive even for my taste. So if you’d like to be social media buddies you can find me here.
The beautiful Shauna Haider (aka Nubby Twiglet) is one of my design heroines, whose blog I’ve been following since college. (It was actually this post of hers that helped me develop my first legit print portfolio!)
Shauna posts helpful advice for designers, amazing personal fashion posts, and some great resources. With clients like Forever 21, Nike and Virgin Records (to name a few) Shauna is unstoppable. She and a few other bloggers have recently launched Blogacadamy, a two day workshop for bloggers who want to “push their online presence and businesses to the next level.” With all of this under her belt, she still finds time to contribute to a little blog like mine!
Hi! I’m Shauna Haider, a graphic designer and blogger residing in Portland, Oregon. My blog and design studio are both called Nubby Twiglet, which was created by merging two of my nicknames back in high school (I had a serious love of mod icon Twiggy). I am also the co-founder of The Blogcademy, a strategy-based blogging workshop. Between designing, blogging nearly every weekday and hitting the road with The Blogcademy, I find the work/life balance quite elusive but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
When did you decide you wanted to be a graphic designer? I’d always been interested in art and it always seemed like a natural progression that I’d grow up and become an artist. But post-high school, I toured my top pick of art schools and the advisor wasn’t impressed by my lack or drawing and painting examples. He should have taken a look at all the collages and minimal layouts in my portfolio and recommended the design program instead! But he didn’t and onward I went.
By that time, I was starting to doubt the fine art path anyway because I’m pretty practical and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how I’d make a living post-college as an artist. I switched my focus to earning a degree in business with a minor in marketing instead because it seemed much more practical. Post college though, I wasn’t happy. I wanted to be creative. I’d started dabbling in graphic design and it felt like the perfect fit. I studied every book, magazine and blog I could get my hands on and in late 2006, I enrolled in a two-year program at a community college. Being immersed in the design word, I felt like I’d finally found my place. How did you transition from being a student in school to being a designer in the “real world”? Through hard work, a lot of drive, compulsive blogging and a little luck, I was able to secure an internship with one of the best known design studios in Portland. I interned there during my entire second year of college and got hands-on experience working with clients like Nike, Skullcandy and Smith Optics. A week after I graduated, I had my first full-time job. Things are definitely more challenging for fresh graduates these days! Looking back, I can’t quite believe things worked out the way they did but I was also more driven than anyone else I knew…probably to a fault. Haha. What was your first paid design job? My first paid design job was for a club promoter I met in 2005 during an extended stay in New York but truthfully, I wasn’t really a designer at that point and it showed! My first legit paid design job came during my second semester of community college. One day in class, I got an email from a band that was on Virgin Records and before I knew it, I had two weeks to design their entire album artwork! After I made it through that, everything seemed manageable. How have you been able to make a name for yourself in the design community? I’m pretty relentless when it comes to design and blogging! I’ve been blogging since 2001 and consistently publishing content on Nubby Twiglet since 2007. There are definitely moments when I’m tired and when I’m not quite sure what to post next but I always push through because I don’t want to lose momentum. And there’s always something inspiring to share if you look hard enough!
I also began blogging early on when there was a lot less competition out there so I was able to develop an audience pretty easily. A lot of my close friends were well-known bloggers and would cross post links to my content and that really helped as well. Because I wasn’t afraid to put my work out there, I gained a pretty solid freelance base. I really had no idea what I was doing — I figured it out through a lot of trial and error and on the job experience. These days, there’s so much more competition and the designers I see coming out of school are so much more sophisticated and aware than I was. What advice would you give to a new graphic designer? Be fearless (or at least appear that way!) when it comes to sharing your work with the world. As soon as you possibly can, put up a blog and portfolio. When I first became a designer, I was afraid that sharing my life beyond my design work was potentially negative but what I quickly realized is that while not everyone is a designer, they can often relate to the person behind the design. By opening up and sharing who you are, what inspires you and offering advice and insights along the way, it makes you more relatable not only as a designer but as a human being.
And, always keep those business cards handy. You truly never know when you’ll have the opportunity to make your next big contact! I’ve often gotten jobs from being in the right place at the right time but most importantly, by being prepared.
Great advice!! Thank you so much Shauna, it’s truly an honor to have you on the blog today!
Find more of Shauna here:
Good morning friends! Today we have a lovely lady named Chelsea from Go Forth Creative here sharing about her journey as a graphic designer. Chelsea’s portfolio is full of style. She’s a great designer who also does photography, so all of her work is captured extremely beautifully! Read on to find out more about Chelsea and how she got to where she is today. I’m Chelsea, the lady behind Go Forth Creative, a design and photography studio in Austin, Texas. I love to design brands from the ground up and enjoy working with small businesses like my own! When did you decide you wanted to be a graphic designer? Well, I went to UT in Austin and got a design degree in the Spring of 2007. It wasn’t until 2006, a couple years into the program, that I started understanding the types of projects I would be working on outside of school. It was then that I understood the big picture and knew I was interested in making a career out of design. How did you transition from being a student in school to being a designer in the “real world”? I interned with a small mom and pop studio called Viewers Like You. 6 years later, I’m still a contract designer for their firm, now based out of Richmond, Virginia. Having that part time design job has allowed me to remain a freelance designer since college. What was your first paid design job? I worked at a screen printing company for a summer. Most of my time was spent placing logos on t-shirts and mugs but I learned a lot about the screen printing process and how to set up files for print. How have you been able to make a name for yourself in the design community? It took me a few years to build up the confidence and portfolio I needed to succeed at owning my own business. This past March, I launched Go Forth, a brand and website I could stand behind. With the launch, I created a digital newsletter and snail mail program. Through that, I’m able to reach an audience who’s interested in my work. I would recommend a newsletter to any designer that’s wanting to build their business. Also, going to creative workshops has helped me meet people in my city. What is one quality you think all designers should have? Passion for their projects. If you’re not passionate about what you’re working on, it’s going to show. What advice would you give to a new graphic designer? Get out there! Join your local AIGA chapter. Email designers you respect in your town. This is something I wish I would have done years ago but just started this year. You might be fearful or shy but push past those feelings and be social!
Thanks Chelsea! Find more of this lovely lady here:
Today we have the wonderful designer/mommy Erin Jane from Jane Reaction here on Design Journey. I was first drawn to Erin’s designs when I stumbled upon the lovely work she did for Kinfolk Magazine. I then started following her blog, fell in love with her little family and had the chance to meet her in Palm Springs in September. Erin is as wonderful in real life as she seems on the internet. She is a hard worker and values her family deeply. She is positive and encouraging, and equally open about the struggles she faces as she balances mommy and work life. I could really go on and on about this lady, but I’ll let her do the rest of the talking! Here’s Erin! Hello! I am Erin Jane from the blog Jane Reaction. I recently moved to Dallas Texas with my husband and little boy (who is about to turn 1!!) a few months ago. I work from home as a freelance graphic designer while simultaneously taking care of my baby boy. Everyday we are learning how to make this whole life/work balance happen. I blog, design for small magazines and publications, do brand work, create websites and more. I am currently working on a stationary line with my friend who owns a small letterpress company in McMinnville Oregon. We are pretty excited about that upcoming project to launch!
When did you decide you wanted to be a graphic designer? I decided I wanted to be a graphic designer about half way through design school. HAHA! I got my bachelors degree in ceramics while living on the North Shore of Oahu – which basically means I went to college to play with clay and surf all day. When I finally graduated and had to support myself I didn’t really know what to do. Get a mundane job at a desk doing something I hated? Or try to make a name for myself as a potter?? My mother (in all of her infinite wisdom) encouraged me to go through a graphic design program close to home in Portland Oregon. I decided I would give it a try but honestly had every intention of dropping out halfway through and running back to Hawaii to marry a surfer bum and live the rest of my days on the beach. However, after the first two semesters I was completely in love with design and knew that that is what I wanted to do! How did you transition from being a student in school to being a designer in the “real world”? Well, after school I actually really did end up marring that surfer bum (he’s not really a bum) and we did run back to Hawaii together. Aside from a few projects I had taken on during school and an internship for a small publication I had no real world experience. It is really difficult to find any work on the North Shore of Oahu let alone anything that is design related. So this transition was really hard for me. I felt like my only choice was to go freelance. I teamed up with a local photographer and did all of her branding and collateral. I traveled with her to workshops and made contacts with more photographers who were interested in hiring me to do their branding. I went back to the local university where I did my undergrad and asked around if any design work was needed. I took on jobs as they came and tried to stay busy. I teamed up with a few friends and helped them start Kinfolk Magazine. I blogged all the time. Eventually, more work started to come in and I had enough people asking me to design for them that I could begin to raise my prices and be more selective about the work I took on. It wasn’t easy, but it was rewarding and I feel pretty good about how far I have come since graduation.
What was your first paid design job? My first paid design job was about halfway through my first semester – a wedding invitation. I designed, printed, hand carved a custom woodblock stamp, stamped every invitation and assembled everything myself for $80. WHAAAA??? I had no idea what I was worth, what work like this was worth, or how to convey my worth to others. I considered it a great learning experience. (the wedding invite she did pictured below!) How have you been able to make a name for yourself in the design community? Hmmmm… good question! I’m not so sure I have really “made it” yet. I still strive to be so much more! I guess I would say one of the biggest things that helped attract business and other creative professionals was blogging. Getting your story out there and showing people the work you can do helps you go a long way.
What is one quality you think all designers should have? All designers need to be confident. There are going to be clients that are a little bit difficult to work with or that are somewhat critical. People will love your work but want you to change the very thing that makes it great. It is hard to explain why something looks good and why it should be a certain way if you are not confident in your work. Being confident in your work will put clients at ease and reassure them that they are in good hands. What advice would you give to a new graphic designer? Start right now. Whatever crazy idea you have been dreaming in your head – do it now! If you want to work for a certain company start creating work that will get you that dream job. If you want to be a freelance designer start asking around if anyone needs any design work done. If you want to start a magazine start laying out the pages and getting content together right now. A quote I repeat to myself everyday – a year from now you will wish you had started today. Whatever it is you want to do start right to make it happen.
Thank you Erin! You are so inspiring. I love your work ethic and positive attitude. Keep it up girl!