It’s the week of the D&AD New Blood Festival, which always brings a little bit of nostalgia and some self-reflection. Around this time of year, Creative Directors and studios will see an influx of internship requests and new blood knocking on their door. I thought it would be good to share some tips for creative types graduating this summer. Some of these pointers I have learned the hard way, some were automatic, and the rest I have observed others making the mistake, and made a note to never do the same.
1.Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but before you do, make sure you have at least tried for yourself.
I’m sure I used to do this at one point, but my biggest bugbear is when somebody asks’s for help without trying to find the answer themselves. Make sure you give it some time to figure it out, not only is it more rewarding, but you will learn for next time.
2.Branding yourself as a Graduate X? Remove it. Let your work speak for its self and set your worth.
Personal branding is a huge chunk of Design school, getting you ready to impress CDs and Studios. One thing I immediately when leaving University was the different types of conversations that surfaced once removing Graduate from my online presences. It allowed my work to speak for itself, and my craft gained the trust of those wanting to hire me.
3.Be a team player. An idea isn’t YOUR idea it’s the team/agency. The origin of an idea is usually always known, don’t fret.
Remember work is usually, created in teams, whether it’s your idea or not, don’t go chasing the pat on the back, by shouting it was MY idea, or getting in a strop if your name isn’t personally credited. Those higher than you usually know where the idea originated. Also if you’re in the lucky position to send out a company email to shout about the project, using the word WE rather than I, will raise your profile quicker. Respect.
4.Make way for new ideas, by writing existing ones in a notepad.
You can’t develop, build, and execute every good or bad idea you conjure up. Personally, I have been stuck in a rut at times because I have let thoughts fester in my brain rather than fleshing them out in a notepad. Let your notepad deal with storing ideas, and keep your mind free of clutter.
5.Avoid being protective of your ideas, share them. Multiple perspectives might help an idea take flight.
Similarly to the last pointer. Don’t be protective of your ideas, allow them to flourish somewhere, sharing them will help you see the strengths and weaknesses of the ideas.
6.Never stop creating, doodling and storyboarding.
Simple. I did once, it was horrible, and I felt unfulfilled in both my day job and my freelance work.
7.Ideas are constructed by experiences, conversations, and images. Experience more, create more.
I read this concept in a Paul Arden book, and it’s true. How original are your ideas if they are an accumulation of the above? If you isolate yourself and try to come up with new ideas, you will run out of gas quickly. You need to refuel your brain with different experiences.
8.We all evolve. The discipline you leave University with doesn’t mean you will continue to do that throughout your career.
University categorizes students, and in my experience, the categories included Graphic Design, Illustration, and Motion or Interaction. Remember you will most probably have to do all of these things at one point in your career. It’s also very ok to allow yourself to drift into fields out of your comfort zone. You will grow quicker, and you never know you may find your true calling if you do.
9.It’s scary, but don’t be scared. Be excited. Be passionate and good things will come.
Creative Directors know the difference between a passionate designer and one with a decent portfolio but switches off at 6 pm every night. Mate Steinforth CD of Sehsucht Berlin once said to me he would prefer to hire someone who knew more about the industry than someone who is just good at operating software.
10.Those who wait for good things to come to them will be waiting a long time. You create your own luck.
It’s rare that you will get your dream job just waiting for it. Go and grab it. I wrote about luck here.
11.Comparing your work to the biggest and best studios out there is a sure way to demotivate you.
It’s a dark place to be exploring. I have been there. When freelancing, I went through a spell of this happening. I would get a new project in, have a beautiful vision of the end product, push night and day to complete it, end up burnout and the work looking subpar to my original concept. These studios have designers that play off each other strengths and weakness; you are you. You can’t be amazing at everything, stop giving yourself a hard time, and collaborate with others.
12.Be friendly with people at events and stay in touch, you never know what position you or they‘ll be in, in 5 years time.
Nice guys/girls finish first. You grow as do other people. You may climb the ladder or you may not, that’s fine. By staying in touch, you might find one day they need your help or vice-versa, and that can open doors.
13. Every piece of work you create and post online, won’t receive international accolades. That’s ok.
Putting work online for others to view and criticize is daunting, and sometimes things go viral. Yey! Most of the time they don’t, and it sucks. That’s how the online world works, plow that energy into the next project and get it online. You will receive more recommendation if you’re seen to be a consistent player rather than a one-hit wonder.
14.If you find success early on, don’t get comfortable, keep reinventing yourself.
I got comfortable, rode a small but beautiful wave, and stopped producing work that made me happy. Lesson learned, I now only create the illustration and animation work I want to do under the name StayYoungInside.
15.Remember to find time to create the work you want to be known for.
Similarly to the last pointer, this is relevant to your portfolio. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into doing 2-minute animation explainer videos if you want to do Paper-craft work. Be brutal with your portfolio and showcase the work you want the industry to recognize you for creating.
Good luck on your journey, enjoy it and hopefully, these 15 tips might just help you along the way.
If you want any more advice or want to talk about creative, drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org