As a designer at the start of your career, you have no choice but to look ahead and face your future with your head up and your feet on the ground. But as you add up the years and build on experience, you have the advantage of being able to look back and reflect. As a creative agency, we’re very age diverse and it’s a wasted opportunity not to ask our team to share their wisdom. So, we asked them what career advice they’d give to their younger selves, thinking on what they’ve learned and what they’d do differently.
Never stop asking why
When something looks good, ask yourself why it does. And keep asking that question until it becomes second nature. Evaluation skills are invaluable and will serve you well for the rest of your career.
Practice makes perfect
Do practice briefs. Try using https://www.briefbox.me/ . They’ve got lots of interesting briefs, quick challenges and courses for new starters. Which will not only help you get better, but it also helps develop the discipline to ‘show up’ for work that you might not find exciting or would choose yourself – which is what agency work is all about.
Curation is key
It’s tempting to show a potential employer everything you’ve ever done. But remember, they’re busy and they’ve got to look at loads of portfolios. By only showing your very best, most relevant work, you’re saving them time and showing you can self-edit. And getting off to a great start.
It’s hard to build a portfolio when you’ve never had a commission or a job. Entering competitions is a really great way to build a body of work. You get a prompt; a deadline and you know the standards will be high. It doesn’t matter if you win, what matters is that you’ve challenged yourself and have some work to show for it. In the very least you get to see what other people are doing and can use the opportunity to benchmark your work and maybe even steal a few cool ideas.
Always be learning
Maintaining a learner’s mindset, no matter what stage you’re at, is always sage advice. You’ll never know everything and you can always get better. So, remember that when something goes wrong, or someone doesn’t like your work. You’re always learning. But so are they. Let’s all be humble together.
Find outlets that let you test and refine your skills. Whether it’s a project with friends or getting involved in other creative circles. When you’re personally invested in something, you enjoy a certain amount of freedom to create and you’ll be driven to work harder.
Never close yourself off to new things. Processes, software and culture changes all the time, and you need to stay adaptable to stay relevant. The very nature of creative industries is using novelty to sell.
Learn the Typography basics
Sometimes a great design can be let down by simple typographic errors. Don’t become a statistic.
See it to believe it
Seeing your work in print as well as digital can help you understand the practical provenance of design conventions and the requirements and limitations of physical materials.
If you’re starting out your career in design and you’d like to start it with us, get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org