Would you be disappointed if I ended my blog?
I have pangs every now and then that it’s almost the end of the road with it
Did you know I have a Society6 store?
Did you also know you can get free shipping by following this link?
Please have a look and if you like then buy something nice - I have a wedding to pay for :)
Jumping on the Brand Wagon!
So, every potential designer gets to that dreaded point where we have to take on that difficult client. You know the one I mean, bad tempered, foul mouthed, indecisive, the worlds biggest critic, never happy…..
Yes, that shitty client called yourself!
You could have a client list of all the most indecisive people in the world, and yet still we are our own worst enemy when it comes to branding ourselves. Most designers need an identity when dealing with freelance work, or even to utilise in your portfolio or website. It gives you a more professional look and a good brand can tell creative agencies or PR agency just how well they can sell your services to clients.
I went for years without facing up to the fact that I needed a brand. I eventually needed one quickly for some potential freelance work, and I just went bowling in and came out six hours later with about half a dozen A3 sheets of scribbles and ideas and going WHY DID I START THIS?!
Eventually at the end of it all, it was my playing around with type rather than fiddling about with some sort of icon or monogram which I was trying to do. I over thought the situation, and forgot what I hold dearest in design, typography and simplicity. (Although one can argue that i’m quite a simple person anyway so it represents me incredibly well!)
So this all begs the question - what do I need to consider when i’m jumping on the ‘brand’ wagon?
It is the hardest project for any designer or illustrator to design their own brand identity, but it really is an essential element for any successful designer. It isn’t an ego trip, it isn’t something that makes you an instant celebrity, but rather a method that you can present your professional self to other professionals.
Don’t rush it, and garner as many opinions as your fragile designer ego can take, it is better to hear something is right or wrong before you go and have it splashed across business cards or the web, and hopefully your brand will give you pride and propulsion to expand your clientele.
There are two essential things to have as a new designer looking for work:
Many designers are using Behance.net these days, and it is a really good way to show off their work. I would really reccommend setting up your Behance account with some of your work on - it gets a whole load of traffic, and you never know when a firm may come accross your work. However, there are thousands upon thousands of designers on there and it can be better to showcase your work by having your own unique website.
If you aren’t good with web development tools, don’t go for something too flashy and all singing and dancing - most designers can get to grips with basic HTML (and if you don’t i’m sure you will have at least one friend who maybe able to help!) just let your work stand out and be the highlight!
Just look at my website, i’m no web wizard, but it’s easy to navigate, shows off what I do well, and has a sprinkling of interesting elements.
Other designers might like to show off how wonderful they are with beautiful Flash based websites, but if your client has to download the latest Flash player to view it, or is technically savvy and owns an iphone or an ipad (or even both!) they are going to be able to look at your site either! Remember you are designing for yourself first, then others.
One thing these days some designers completely forget about is having a physical portfolio. The majority of the time having an online portfolio will be sufficient, but having a physical one to does no harm - and a lot of interviews for creative positions will expect you to bring along a physical portfolio.
When making a physical portfolio, make sure it is a good format, diverse content and presented well. If you can see that an image is pixellated then chances are a creative director will too!
Spend a little time and money to put together a clean and easy to understand portfolio - and remember, you are probably going to be judged on your weakest piece!
Self promotion is key to your eventual success!
You are a creative person, you have spent a lot of time widening your experience and design style, and most likely in the last year of your degree you will spend a bit of time looking at self promotion.
Creating yourself a brand or an identity (like my Jamesydesign brand) it will enable you to guide your self promotion effectively.
What you do for self promotion is really upto your creative avenue - if you are a typographer, utilising this skill in either your portfolio or promotional material you can send a creative firm will really help you stand out.
Like all designers, creative firms really like nice things they can keep! I have stacks of packaging, postcards, zines, cut-out and keeps, toys, 3D glasses the list goes on - we are all creative magpies looking for the next shiny thing to catch our eye - in this case use it to your advantage and get yourself noticed!
Use social media to your advantage!
We all know the tales of how Facebook has ruined people’s careers with one set of drunken photos being added, and many people are scared to utilised social media sometimes when promoting themselves. I see social media as THE outstanding method to get positive attention, to both yourself and your work.
Twitter is one of the most fantastic social platforms a designer can have. Things can go viral fast, you can direct your tweets towards people, you can follow design firms and designers you both admire and have aspirations to work with. Mention them in tweets, but DO NOT twitter stalk them, ever. Directing one or two tweets here and there is great, but if you constantly direct tweets to them you run the risk of seeming really desperate. Tweet fellow student designers and build up a network of people, the last three major freelance projects I have undertaken have came from the result of people following my twitter account and seeing my work through that. (just remember if you are using twitter in this way, try to remember not to post things derogatory about companies etc - it’s a world of pain and can see you frozen out of a community quickly!)
Making friends with design companies
Be proactive; find local companies that you think you would like to work with and that you think you can offer something positive to. If it is a larger company, it is probably best to phone them up first, and most likely you will speak to either a junior designer, or the receptionist. At this point is where I recall something my grandparents always taught me - treat EVERYONE in a business like you would the most important person you could talk to. I have seen people lose job opportunities just by being rude to the receptionist - they remember these things, they are the ones who will report back to the creative director, AND they have better memories than elephants - they will remember you being rude and on the flipside, very polite.
If you fail to talk to anyone higher up in the company hierarchy, then politely ask for their personal email and send your details through that means instead.
When you do have that email address, and you go to send an email out, make sure that you have researched the company and you know what projects they have worked on - be complimentary but not over the top! Explain in the email why you would be such an asset to their company, make the email personal to each company, and attach a small example of your work, whether it be a consise portfolio, or just something fun that shows how creative you are.
Visit some design companies
Whilst completing your degree, chances are there will be lots of design companies coming to speak to you, or giving you advice, or even helping out with interview practice.
This is always an opportunity to find out more and to present yourself as someone who is enthusiastic and interested in what they do, and how you can learn off them. Ask them about the possibility of doing some unpaid work experience, it is all about getting your foot in the door!
Most design companies will look for people to come in and experience what they do this way, just keep trying, but don’t ever hound a poor design company and beat them down into giving you a days placement!
Most designers when they get their foot in the door like this it possibly will lead them further, if not with this company another - once companies can see you are being proactive in getting experience of real world design, then they are usually more interested in talking to you!
There are many more avenues that you can take to help get you ahead in the industry, but I think that one of the best things that you can learn quite quickly is that just because your tutor tell you that you are an amazing designer and you keep getting firsts in all of your work, it does not make you the best candidate for a design job. Creative companies thrive on a good, positive and most importantly creative and hard working atmosphere, and if you come into their world as the ‘big-I-am’ most likely you will be leaving before you’ve even made your first round of coffees for everyone!
Be humble, be pro-active, don’t try and be something you aren’t - design companies want designers that will help raise their profile and earn them money, not persistent headaches!
Be actively pursuing all of these things throughout your design course, get work experience whenever you can, and build up these networks over a good amount of time - do not expect to try and do all this networking at your final show!
Chances are you will have had too many sleepless nights and glasses of wine to make any coherent sense! Utilise all of your time throughout your course to gain the best and most rounded experience and never ever give up, because it is usually when all looks lost that the best thing will come along!
Again I hope all this helps in someway to someone!
The post is photo reply enabled too - so show us your designs!!!
For more design articles and advice follow us here at Design Lecturer to get an insight and any advice you may need!
..and here’s the net, both front and back to the packaging.
The concept is that with LEGO, you can “start small, think big” and inside the big red lego piece would be an actual 2x2 red LEGO piece.
Being direct mail this could then have follow up opportunities where other bricks could be sent until you had the start of something big!
Please go follow their blog - i’m sort of running it and working my butt off doing design work for them
Gym Being are launching this month! Keep your eyes peeled!
Over £20k worth of clothing coming in this month, new website, E-Bay store, 3 gym concessions confirmed, I.T. team & staff in place, warehouse & office confirmed, marketing strategy concreted, over 15 athletes from different sports confirmed, covering 5 sports initially, selling sports nutrition soon, Bodypower Expo stand confirmed!
We’re in the center of the event btw giving prizes away all week end & doing 2 comps! Discounts for fans! Facebook weekly comps starting too! & thats only the start!
Get over and follow these guys - i’ve been doing a lot of work for them and they’ve just set up their own tumblr!
The whole range of designs will be going up over the next few days and weeks with their website opening soon as well they will be looking to give away some prizes to people (and we all love free stuff!)
Anon asked: I was warned after graduating that I would hate my first job entering the design industry. I was hoping it wouldn’t be true! but alas, it is. I don’t have the opportunity to design anything and even if I did we design strictly sportswear which isn’t my niche. Now, I realize I should obviously quit my job and find a new one but I am constantly applying for new jobs and getting nothing back. I know I’m not a shit designer. Any suggestions on applying for jobs?
This is unfortunately an all too common statement that lots of people undertaking their first design job end up making. You are already at the bottom of the ladder, and you don’t want to be looking up at the bottom rung!
Your first design job is primarily there for you to make mistakes and learn. Even though the original poster states that they aren’t designing anything, there could be other opportunities within the same firm that perhaps you aren’t noticing. For everytime you see design going on around you learn from it, ask questions, make other people aware and remind them that you too are a creative person with lots of ideas. Also, don’t ever look at a subject that you’re designing for as ‘not your niche’ - use it as a way of learning to add that to your repatoire! In my first design position I was going from designing something for a television company, to an information sheet for a sewage cleaning company, to a newsletter for a solicitors - guess which one I wish I solely worked on?
Starting work in the design industry is all about paying your dues unfortunately, and you generally have to wade through the crap to get to the pot of gold!
With regards to looking for a new job, put it on hold for a little while - use the opprtunities where you are (no matter how small) to help you get some enthusiasm back, also try to do some little ‘just-for-you’ projects that help you drive your creativity. Don’t ever quit your job without another waiting - it is much easier to find work, when you are in work!
Take stock of what you are sending to other companies. Is it a CV? Is it a portfolio? Is it just an ‘I want to work with you guys because I hate my current job’? (I have done that and it is surprising how easily you can communicate that in applications without realising!)
You have to give companies a really good reason as to why they should hire you - what do you bring to the table and how can you improve their company?
When you are applying to other creative agencies send them something to get excited about!
Things to be excited by:
Things that don’t get people excited:
(ok i’m just playing devil’s advocate here, but if you really want to grab the companies attention you may need to put a lot of work into what you are sending them, and speculate to accumulate! If you need to spend a bit of money on printing to make it look good - well do it! You are doing it for your future!)
Another thing is ascertain is whether you actually have the skills and experience they want or require. I have seen fresh graduates apply for senior designer posts, which inevitably (unless you have Ferris Bueller style charm) they get no response, or turned down from and then they get sulky because no one is giving them a job. Do your research about a firm, reference their work, and say what you are going to bring to their company! Also, get someone you know in the industry to look over your applications and portfolio - ask them for constructive criticism, this could be a friend, a colleague your mum - whoever! Sometimes you just don’t notice something glaringly obvious that perhaps isn’t the best idea to be in your portfolio (mine was the abundance of design relating to a sex shop rebrand……)
Unfortunately there are many more unemployed designers than design jobs out there at the moment, but there is hope - just keep plugging away and sooner rather than later you will get a break somewhere down the line.
Hope this was all of some help for everyone in this situation - it happens to us all so good luck in all your future endeavors!