Navigate through the Graphic Design Industry

Fresh out of school, entering the world of design can be exciting yet daunting. Learn from Provisional RGD Members who have successfully navigated their first few years in the industry. In the second instalment, Provisional RGDs Daniela Buitrago and Simerdeep Haer share their journey. 



Daniela Buitrago Provisional RGD



Daniela is a Graphic Designer based in Vancouver. A 2016 graduate of Emily Carr's Bachelor of Design program and 2020 graduate of UBC's Art History Diploma program she works across different disciplines for individuals, brands and businesses on print and web. She is a Member of the RGD's Education Committee

What you are currently up to work-wise? How has that changed since you graduated?
Currently, I am working as a full-time freelance Graphic Designer, before that, I worked as an in-house designer. Even though being a full-time freelance designer has always been something I wanted to do, after graduation, I decided to take some full-time jobs instead because there is nothing like experience and time to build a strong portfolio and really grow your network of connections.
Now, with four years of experience, I finally feel I can try it out as a full-time freelancer. Happy to say that so far so good and that thanks to connections from the past years I have projects. I must say that I am very grateful to have this profession and way of working at the moment because even though there are definitely difficult things happening, the flexibility of the freelance life has provided very positive things to my life and my way of working as a designer.
Looking back, what do you wish you had spent more time on during the years leading up to your graduation?
I would have spent more hours on building up my portfolio, going to networking events and applying for internships. Even though I did put time and effort into these things, I do think I could have done more and it would at benefit me greatly at the time I was trying to get my first full-time job after school. Luckily, after graduation, I got a job at a startup because I sent a direct email to the CEO and surprisingly that one email did end up in a full-time position as a graphic designer.
How does having a mentor early on in your career help?
A good mentor really helps you to improve faster. It opens your eyes to see and understand how things should be done technically and how to look for balance and how to avoid mistakes that can be costly! A mentor can also introduce you to their own contacts and that opens up a world of new possibilities and opportunities.
What does your future look like? What are your goals over the next 3-5 years and what are you doing now to ensure you accomplish them?
Over the next 3-5 years I really want to consolidate my freelance practice. I hope my portfolio keeps growing and improving with creative, unique and smarts projects. In order to accomplish this, I need to focus on promoting my work and services. I also need to be very organized and hopefully, I will be able to collaborate with other designers to big, exciting projects.
Show us a project you are working on or recently completed that you are excited about/proud of. 
I recently finished an illustration project for BCSPCA (British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). They needed 5 illustrations and an infographic for a new online marketing campaign that promotes proper dog training techniques. The tricky part was that they had a super-tight deadline, but I was able to deliver work that the client really liked in time. My digital illustration skill is something I am working on improving. My focused before has been more on web and print editorial design, so it was a good challenge that can hopefully result in future illustration projects. 

Simerdeep Haer Provisional RGD



Simer is a multi-disciplinary designer who specializes in branding and art direction. With complementary experience in merchandising, she has combined her skills and experiences to create thoughtful solutions that span from print to digital designs.


How did you get your first job right out of school? 
I was able to get my first design job through networking! It was important for me to connect with others in the industry and this made it easier to find a job. Another was to have a portfolio to talk about and showcase.
What do you think is an essential real-world skill that every design course should teach?
Every design course should teach students how to effectively negotiate their rates as well as how to navigate freelance opportunities.
Have you experienced any significant challenges related to working in this WFH environment and how have you solved them?
A challenge I faced was testing my time management skills. I resolved this by having a designated workspace and set schedule during the work week.
What do you think the design industry will look like 5 years from now?  
Most design will be online/digital, whether that is through web, e-commerce, social media or video. I think print will always be relevant, but new designers will need to be expert doing design digitally. 


Show us a project that you  are proud of and you think played a role in your getting your first job right out of school.
These are two projects that I worked on while in school that I am really proud of. In both I developed the concepts using illustrations and photography.
Stay tuned for the next instalment where Rosa Cantiller Provisional RGD and Jordan Jackson Provisional RGD share their experiences.

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