Design Journey | Nubby Twiglet
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: