Roanne Adams
What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?
At the beginning of my career I felt like I had so much to learn yet knew what I ultimately wanted to be doing. It was like being at the bottom of the mountain — I could see the summit but had too many different routes from which to choose to get there. I knew I wanted to get into graphic design and art direction for the fashion industry, but wasn’t sure whether branding was the right route. At times I thought I should be in editorial design or working at a small graphic design studio but in the end, working for a big branding firm was a blessing in disguise. It taught me to look at the bigger picture and gave me the confidence to apply what I had learned to smaller brands once I went out on my own.
What should a young designer do in order not to get hired by anybody?
I think young designers should try their best to get hired. I know a handful of designers who want to go freelance straight out of school, but I think that more often than not, it’s a mistake. Personally, I wouldn’t have been ready to go out on my own without seeing what it was like to work at a graphic design studio first. It was important for me to understand the structure of a studio, from design to client management, as well as internal roles and operations, such as business best practices. With that knowledge you will be in a good position to NOT get hired, and essentially hire yourself.
Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
Yes, I wish I knew how to code websites! I’m kidding, I don’t regret not knowing things at the time. Not knowing is the best way to learn. I only wish I asked more questions to the people I admired the most.
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
Our studio has a pretty well oiled process at this point. We have status lists, internal check-ins and checklists to ensure our projects are running efficiently. We aren’t super rigid about process but we are process oriented — we leave room for detours, spontaneity and creativity — but it’s important to have structure. Without project scoping and a model go-to process, things could get a bit out of control. Creativity, especially in a commercial setting, needs structure.
In terms of practical online tools, we use Google Docs for shared documents, Wunderlist for keeping track of our list of to-do’s and Harvest for tracking our time spent on projects. Tracking our time is essential for billing and for understanding how to scope future projects.
Would you recommend some books that young designers might find useful?
I personally loved looking at art and photography books as a young designer. If you are into design for fashion and art direction I would suggest Graphic Design for Fashion  by Jay Hess & Simone Pasztorek and Fashion & Graphics  by Tamsin Blanchard.
Roanne answered the questions on June 16, 2014.
The answers were published on June 17, 2014.