I want you to be happy. I want to you to find creative fulfillment. I’d like you to have these things 7 days a week, and not just the two at the end of it because you deserve it.
This blog is for all of the interns, grads, juniors and mids working in the commercial design industry, who want to make it a more sustainable, creatively-fulfilling and enjoyable place to work in.
I’m talking about the people with the energy and passion untainted by cynicism; the people with the need to understand why they go to work for reasons other then money; the people who love feeling connected with the community; the people who are in an awesome stage of becoming.
There are 5 reasons why I wanted to start this column:
1. To empower you to make fulfilling creative career choices
I had a really difficult time feeling like I was valuable when I first started working in design. It took me about four years to feel like I was competent and I hope that the journey will be a lot less rocky for you.
I’ve had my managing director say my work looked like vomit in front of the client after staying back for three tedious, late nights; I’ve missed celebrating my birthday with the people I love for the sake of delivering some bloody banner ads; I’ve traced over a logo from a crowd-sourcing design site because I didn’t know any better; I’ve been paid less then any retail or hospitality job in order to work at an agency with crystal chandeliers in the foyer, and on countless occasions I’ve told people that I wanted to stop working in graphic design because it was an uncreative desk job.
I wish to give you an honest picture of what working in the creative industry is like, through personal stories and articles that range from the good to the downright despicable. My hope is that you’ll take it all a little less seriously then I did and stand up for yourself when you need to.
2. To reduce the incidence of creative burnout and help you find a window of happiness in your job
I was sick of hearing my friends say that their design jobs left them feeling burnt out or that they simply couldn’t find one. This is why we need to start a conversation about the culture within the creative industry.
We need to be gaining energy from our jobs, not losing it, because our energy is our greatest resource.
Hands up who has a ridiculously talented friend who can not find work at a studio and instead opts to work in a state of despair at a retail or hospitality gig? These people need to know that are not alone and to keep their creative fire alive despite the setbacks.
It’s a competitive and compromising industry out there and you’ll be surprised what theatrics people have to pull out to even get an interview (rocking up at the agency’s doorstep in a pink wig and stilettos anybody?)
Every few weeks I’ll be interviewing a wonderful, beautiful individual from the design industry about their wins, horror stories and what their dream workplace would be like. No international creative directors with an air of wanker about them. Just real, awesome creatives who are taking small, consistent steps to lead the creative lifestyle that they deserve.
3. To shape a culture that places a high value on design
We’d all like to be valued for the work that we do by way of money and recognition. According to a Roy Morgan Research study, the greatest determinant for happiness in the workplace is not how much free booze we get or a high salary but recognition.
I’m sure we’d all like clients to show an appreciation for the late nights and finesse we put into their work instead of receiving electronic nuggets of harassment (aka emails). I’m sure we’d all like our colleagues to stop referring to us as, “the person who makes stuff look pretty” because it heavily discounts our expertise. I’m sure we’d all love a brief that actually gives us the information we need to do our job properly. All of these things are a mere fantasy if we don’t ask for them and make it our personal mission to champion the value of design.
The design of a product/service dictates factors such as trust, credibility and ultimately conversion. It’s the difference between winning and losing in the eyes of a business.
I’ll be providing tips for how to best communicate what this value encompasses so that you can charge fees that cover all of your hours, build stronger relationships with your clients and gain the recognition you deserve.
4. To provide support and mentorship for young creatives
I had the best mentor anyone could ever ask for at my first design gig, but as soon as I went into Agency Land, everyone made me feel like they were too busy to even sneeze on me. To add to the initial discomfort, I felt like a child among adults. Everyone was a lot older then me (or they acted like they were) and while they were lovely, I felt no sense of camaraderie among them.
When starting out at your first design gig you may feel like you’re not worth anyone’s time. You may feel incompetent, unsure, alone, and like everything you do is wrong. This is why we need more mentors, to guide you to a place of confidence and reassure you that you’re not an idiot.
Mentors are your personal teachers. They used to be you not so long ago. My hope is that you’ll drop me a line for advice about what to expect from your first gig or your sixth for that matter since work can be so sporadic. My point is, please do not be silent if you need advice or have something to say. This column is an open door for dialogue about you and your happiness in the creative industry. Never forget that you deserve it.
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