What does it take to succeed as a designer in today's creative industry? How do emerging designers get started in the industry, and what does the experience of becoming a professional designer actually look like?
We asked Provisional RGDs to share their thoughts on what it means to be pursuing a career in design.
What is the most challenging thing about being a designer?
Brendan Wilson, Provisional RGD
The most challenging thing about being a designer is being your own critic. I hate my work, I always feel like I let someone down. If I have to pitch a logo at the end of the week I will most certainly go through at least three panic attacks. It's not fun. When I'm having one of these days/weeks/months I make signs and put them around my studio that say "stop taking jobs" and "one thing at a time". But then I pitch and I see my client's/art director's face light up, they get it! And, if only for a moment I can live in bliss as a successful designer. The job gets done, I rip down my signs and eagerly accept the next job. In school they told me "your confidence grows and then you will trust your instinct." I'm still waiting on that. I face every new job with an extreme fear of failure which is why the jobs keep coming.
What are your favourite design tools?
Neli Nenkova, Provisional RGD
Graphic Designer at Colourphill Design Inc.
A pencil and my sketchbook are my favourite design tools, but I also rely on digital programs to facilitate the design process. Ideally it is the idea and not the tools that drives the design process. For example, sketching the evolution of the idea could be a useful resource to help clients understand the various creative phases. Clients often struggle to see the full picture of what goes into a design. In my project files, I like to share “behind the scenes” slides, where I explain the meaning of the shapes, colour combinations and the research, as well as my sketches for each stage of the process. Sharing this information helps them better understand my approach to their product, my commitment to their goals and my desire to deliver great design that works for them.
If you could share one piece of advice with a current design student, what would it be?
Heather McAlpine Provisional RGD
Graphic Designer at Urban Strategies Inc.
Get outside of your room and have friends outside of your major! There is a constant pressure to be creative and to come up with new ideas. Staring at the same desk, in the same room, doesn’t create the best environment for that to happen. Step back and let yourself recharge. As for friends, it’s great to have people who share your passion, but meeting new people with different experiences can lead to new conversations and opportunities to learn from others.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Jared Lebel, Provisional RGD
Graphic Designer and Part Owner at Salt
I actually use an extension called Panda on a day-to-day basis, which aggregates a bunch of different visual inspiration sites like Dribbble and Behance and Niice, but also various blogs and news outlets. This helps me have a nice dose of inspiration as soon as I open my browser to check my email. I also watch a lot of movies and expose myself to culture as much as possible. There are so many brands screaming at our faces all of the time, which makes it even more important for us as designers to dig deep and pull up exceptionally unique and original ideas. It's important to be open to inspiration outside of the design world as well, and let things come up naturally. You should always have a sketch pad or notebook around!