Arriving as Casula station was strange… It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. A short walk to our destination, it was hard to miss the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre – a huge venue that looked so out of place. But it was amazing, and about to host an event that sounded right up our alley. The event was called Creative Careers, a series of free seminars for young adults to discover how creative industry leaders were able to start up and make it big in their careers. August’s seminar was Design Dreams, hosting a number of visual designers with stories from different disciplines and levels of experience. We were lucky enough to gain some tips from Rachel Black (Freelance Design Consultant), Lauren Barber (Graphic Designer at Mira Yuna Studio), Ian Wingrove (Executive Creative Director at Jane Fender), and Chris Griffith (Designer for Frost* Design).


First up was Chris, a VisComm graduate who found his university experience to be quite mediocre, which followed with a crash and burn when he finished. His lack of motivation eventually turned into a thirst for design – he was getting back on track. Chris’ biggest regret was not making the most of university. Looking back he wished he made more mistakes, read endlessly, collected as much inspiration and knowledge as possible, and got more experience. He turned his regrets around and did a 10 week course at Tractor Design School, which landed him an internship and then job with Frost* Design.

“Steal like an artist – Be selective of what you like because this will help form the aesthetics in your design.”

The next speaker was Lauren, who started out in advertising but soon realised her heart wasn’t in it. She wanted to push her own ideas, so she started her own business. A huge step for a young designer, but she was ready to initiate work herself rather than relying on what others set. Her biggest tips with starting a business involve documenting all your work/sketches/notes, being super organised even outside of your design life, and learning from mistakes – they are always going to happen, so embrace them!

Following Lauren was Rachel, previously Head of Creative at Fairfax media and now a professional freelancer, she has all the insight in how to survive as a freelancer. We’ve heard it a thousand times, but there is no doubting it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. This was no exception for Rachel. The majority of her clients are pulled from connections, and they all want her because people already know what to expect from her. She believes that online presence is just as important as the real you. Keep your profile up to date, stick to a maximum of 5 projects per discipline on your portfolio, and remember that there is always a home for you no matter how quirky you are or how many tattoos you have, embrace your differences!

“Always wear a [genuine] smile – what’s the point of working somewhere if you’re not happy?”

The final speaker was Ian, who considers his career highlight to be getting into design itself. Through design he has found so much value in discovering creative outcomes from the relationships he has made with other smart and inspiring people. Showcasing years of experience, he provided a number of key pointers worth holding on to.

1. If someone freaks you out, try approaching them to be your mentor. You might just find that they have a lot to share and are willing to converse on a regular basis.

2. An employer can normally tell within the first 3 pages of your portfolio if you are suitable for the job – so keep it simple. And if you get an interview, remember attitude is everything. If you don’t have a positive attitude then you pose a threat to the vibes within the whole team.

3. Don’t isolate yourself – value collaboration no matter how big or small the project is. And try to ask yourself every few months ‘Am I actually loving this job?’ Find out what you are lacking in and make it work.

An intimate setting meant guests were able to ask questions and interact with the speakers at the end. Each were really approachable and relatable, a nice change from a few design seminars we have attended. The Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre always have other interesting things happening, and the Youth Program are hosting more seminars in the future. The final Creative Careers Seminar for 2015 is on the 12th September and is based around TV, Film & Theatre. Check out their Facebook page for more details here.

Photos: Liam Cameron