What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?
I graduated from college several years ago, but in the grand scheme of my life, I’m still somewhat at the beginning of my career. I still have so much to learn and so many things I want to achieve. 1. After college, I didn’t know how to confidently and naturally handle myself in professional situations like conference calls, presentations, and networking events. I’ve learned by observing others and through trial and error, but sometimes I still fake it. I can be awkward sometimes, which made me embarrassed, but now I try to just embrace it and let it be what it is. 2. Another difficulty was about six months into my first job after college, when I started feeling stuck. It broke my heart a little to realize that I might end up sitting at a desk for the rest of my life in a job I didn’t love. I determined that I didn’t want to live by simply making it through each day or by having my life happen to me. I want to be in charge of the direction of my life, so I’ve tried to make that a reality by regularly evaluating where I am, where I want to be, what I want to be doing, and who I want to be working with.
What should a young designer do in order not to get hired by anybody?
They would think that they already know everything about their creative field and wouldn’t be open to learning. They wouldn’t keep seeking knowledge, looking for feedback, or honing their skills. They wouldn’t use social media to their full advantage. Instagram is a great portfolio platform and can actually get you jobs. They would talk negatively about others in their office or in their field. The internet makes the graphic design world (especially the lettering world) a small one.
Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
Timothy Goodman in a recent interview said, “People want to box you in, especially as a creative person. People measure themselves by where you’re at so they can know that you’re right there and that they could define that... That’s bullshit, there’s no rules.” This was a revelation to me. I wish I’d realized all along that I can be whatever I want to be and create whatever I want to create. I majored in creative advertising communications with a graphic design minor, and I worked at an ad agency in Manhattan for over a year before I determined that I didn’t love advertising, I loved typography. So I changed direction. I started calling myself a graphic designer instead of an advertising art director but was a little afraid of what the graphic design majors who I went to school with would think. A year or two into my job as a graphic designer, I became really interested in hand-lettering and started practicing it in my spare time, but I didn’t consider myself a “lettering artist” for a long time, even after I’d worked on several freelance lettering projects. I felt like I hadn’t been good enough yet to claim the title, which I’ve since realized is ridiculous. So when I made my first stop-motion animation videos a few months ago and really enjoyed it, so I added “stop-motion animation” to my about page, because why not? Call yourself what you want to be, even if your skills aren’t at a professional level yet. Don’t call yourself an ‘aspiring’ anything. Keep working at it, keep creating, and keep publishing your work. Don’t worry about what other people think. They aren’t thinking about you as much as you are thinking about yourself. Don’t let others’ opinions or judgments hold you back.
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
1. I constantly have several projects and commitments going on at once, so partly to keep the stress levels down, I exercise almost every single morning, and try to get enough sleep each night. If I don’t do those things, I don’t feel good about myself, and I’m not able to function at my best in order to be creative and to get everything done that I need to get done. 2. I don’t work with a whole bowl or bag of snacks next to me, because it’s distracting, for one, and because I will absentmindedly eat everything. Haha. I try to keep distractions at a minimum. 3. I’m awful at doing all of the following things, but if I were better, it would help me do my job a lot more efficiently: (1) when you’re saving files, use a strategic naming system so you can find and make sense of your files easily, (2) place the file in its intended location so you don’t have to organize files later, and (3) name your Photoshop layers!
Would you recommend some books that young designers might find useful?
I loved The Technique of Copperplate Calligraphy. Reading that book and practicing the letterforms and movements (a lot!) as I went along, really helped me when I was first learning script lettering. Damn Good Advice is a great one. Whether you’re in advertising, graphic design, type design, film, lettering, photography, or any creative field, this quick and easy read gives great examples of thinking outside the box, being creative, making things happen for yourself, and not doing what everyone expects of you.
Becca answered the questions on July 15, 2015.
The answers were published on July 16, 2015.
The answers were published on July 16, 2015.