It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a young entrepreneur with roots around the world. I was born and raised in England but visited British Columbia a lot as a child and teen, as I have dual nationality and family here. I moved here to attend UBC in 2009 and have since completed various art and design qualifications, lived in New Zealand, traveled Europe and South East Asia extensively, and then found myself (in more ways than one) back here in Vancouver. I’m now working as a self employed Graphic Designer–I work freelance for Flipside Creative, an ad and marketing agency here in the city, plus I co-own Salt Design Co., a graphic design services studio.
What drew you to becoming a graphic designer?
As someone who has always been creatively driven, I’ve dabbled in and learnt a lot of art forms. I’ve studied textiles, surface pattern design, photography, and graphic design. Whilst working as a lead barista and event planner in England I found I needed a way to combine all of my skills, plus I needed to broaden that skill set even more and improve on my design knowledge rather than my art knowledge. Graphic design was the perfect medium for all of this, as essentially it’s visual communication, combining all of my skills into one slightly more flexible role.
Is there anything that particularly influences or inspires your work?
My main inspirations for art work and designs come from being out and about in the world. Nature, plants, other people–it all acts as inspiration for me. I also draw inspiration from the work of others, which is nothing new or exciting to state. Learning art and design history, the reasons behind art movements and the people involved in them is so interesting to me. There was so much behind art and design in the past, much more than there is today–art was influenced by society, politics, everything! To see that and learn about it, and find ways in which to apply it to your own work adds depth and purpose for me.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start doing graphic design?
Find your niche, your passion. It’s been said before and it will be said countless times again, because it’s so true. The only way you will be successful as a designer, or entrepreneur, if you are doing what you are best at. Hone your skills to find what it is that you are great at, and then keep doing that. This is tough though–it’s something I’m still working on for sure!
What are the biggest challenges for graphic designers? How do you think we can overcome those challenges?
For graphic designers, the biggest challenge I’ve found is in having actual work. Studios and agencies are very select about who they hire, and working freelance tends to be the majority option for designers. There’s a lot of work to be involved with but you really have to go out there and get it. Having the initiative and drive to pitch to clients and take on those business roles can be tough, and isn’t part of every designer’s skill set. It also often means working other part time jobs to pay the bills and allow you some time to create these pitches. A lot of the work we do is un-billable; it’s prep for future paid work, and I don’t think many new or aspiring designers expect that.
Where’s your favourite spot in Vancouver to set up a laptop and get shit done?
As a freelance designer I’m constantly coffee shop hopping, jumping from one team and one location to the next. What I’ve found works best for me is having a few select spaces that have big windows for lots of light and people watching, decent music selection and the ability to be cheeky and eat my own food! In Vancouver, the best places for that (for me) are Prado in Gastown, Lost and Found, and the Blenz on Granville and Davie. The beauty of a lot of spaces in Vancouver is that they are now recognizing the freelance life, and have communal work tables. Plus a few are starting to host their own freelance work days–The Juice Truck opens their community space for co-working Wednesdays and other spaces across the city open up for Freelance Friday events. This is great for networking, but not always suitable for getting actual work done.
Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?
There are almost too many list, but the main thing I would say is that most of my resources have come and been found through other businesses or people sharing them. It’s said countless times these days, but social media is your best tool for this. I’ve been following countless blogs, websites, and professionals in my industry for almost a decade now online and they’ve taught me everything I know–almost more than I’ve ever learnt in school! So make the most of the that!
What’s in the works for you right now?
Right now building my company, Salt Design Co., into a sustainable business is my main priority, but I also freelance with Flipside Creative, a wonderful team of ladies with whom I design and work with on some wonderful clients. Maintaining my freelance design life and building my career is my current focus, and I’m really excited to see where it leads! I’m also in the works of designing a product range with my business partner, under the Salt name, which should be launched later this year! Woo!