I was really inspired by International Womens Day and all the posts about supporting and cheering on other women. So I thought I’d put together a list of things I’ve learnt over the years which I wish I’d known when I was first starting out on my career, in the hope that by sharing them they might help someone, female or male, on that first rung of the ladder.
1. It’s ok to be different
My style can be quite different to other designers especially male designers, and for some reason when I was younger I thought that I should reign this in and try and be more structured in my approach. That was, until one day an employer told me the reason they’d hired me was actually because I could bring a different style to the team. This totally changed the way I viewed myself and my work. As creative people the things which make us unique are to be celebrated, there’s no one type of client so why should there be one type of designer?
2. Asking questions is good
I wouldn’t describe myself as a shy person, but throughout my career I’ve always struggled to ask questions. I think I always worried about coming across as stupid, like I should already know the answer. But since I started my business I’ve realised you’ll never know if you don’t ask, and it really does get easier every time you do it. Plus people generally love to help and give advice.
3. Give your portfolio a boost
As designers we know that similar principles apply to most design briefs and just because you haven’t had the opportunity to work on a particular type of project doesn’t mean you can’t do that type of work. A way to show potential employers or clients what your capable of is to set yourself a design brief that will show off your skills in a new area. Or if you know someone who has their own business you could ask them if you could design them a new logo, some leaflets, a brochure, social media assets, you get the idea. Just be sure to mention it’s a portfolio piece, most employers will be impressed with your ingenuity.
4. Everyone is just a person
We all have our own issues, problems and insecurities, everyone including the CEO of the most successful business to the most confident person you meet at a networking event. The pandemic has made this clearer than ever, so even though it’s hard, try not to feel intimidated by people you look up to. Everyone is just winging it!
5. Go for your dreams
Right from my first job I’ve always been lucky to have roles where I was encouraged to use my illustration skills within my design work. I always wanted to be an illustrator but was never sure if I was good enough. When I started my freelance business I decided it was now or never so I started putting myself out there as an illustrator as well as a Graphic Designer. One of my very first freelance projects was for an illustration and with every project since my confidence has grown. Without sounding too cheesy, it dawned on me a little while ago that I’m actually doing the thing I’ve always dreamed of, I only wish I’d done it sooner! So my advice is, if there’s something you’ve always wanted to try, give it a go, you never know what might happen.
There’s my pearls of wisdom, hopefully it might help someone. If any of it has struck a cord with you and you’d like to chat more, feel free to get in touch, I’d love to be able to help.