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Class Blog No.14 – Conversations with Industry Folks

This particular blog will be about my engaging in dialogue with various graphic designers via email in the last few weeks. Now I am not writing down any details of who they are or which company they work for and the email responses are summarised (edited). The ‘Class Blog’ series are assessment items for my graphic design course and is more or less evidence of my actively engaging in research about the industry.

I was very lucky to have some of the ‘Industry Folks’ that I follow online respond to my lingering questions. I contacted a total of 5 designers, however I will only cover 3 of those responses in this blog just to create the general scope of the experiences.  All designers contacted worked in the graphic design industry but my research also suggests that they have some visual arts training too.

My two main questions I put forward to them were how are they able to balance art and design within their creative outputs for clients and how much of their time is actually being creative and being business-y. The questions stem from me trying to figure out how to make my own design works more ‘functional’ but still retain a distinct ‘artistic’ style. These were their following responses:

 ‘Industry Folk No.1’, Motion Graphic Designer (Sydney-based)

  • 3D Motion Graphics
  • Animation
  • Television Broadcasting

Hi Tracy,

My day job is working in broadcast with a very fast turnaround mostly same day so I don’t really get time to experiment and make cool looking things. Those works on my website are all very dated.

This is what I do to stay consistent, I make daily renders and the ones I like I will post and hopefully have learnt new some techniques along the way.
Hope this helps, keep learning as it is a never ending journe,. Make cool stuff and keep pushing yourself.

Cheers,

Industry Folk #1

 ‘Industry Folk No.2’, Creative Director (Melbourne-based)

  • Branding Strategy
  • Marketing Collateral
  • Packaging Design 
  • Web Design
  • Publication Design

Hi Tracy,

This is a really hard question to answer and to be honest I’m still trying to figure it out myself [regarding balancing art and design in works]. For me, design is about solving a problem and coming up with a solution that is compelling and beautiful, but also relevant and functional. What I design may not be my personal taste nor reflect my artistic sensibilities, but it will be what the client needs to connect with her target demographic. Sometimes there comes a brief which I’ll receive that hits all the right notes and allows me to express myself creatively. BUT, only when it serves the client’s interest.

Regardless, the golden rule of design still applies:

  • it MUST be a good fit for the client
  • it MUST be a good fit for the product
  • it MUST be a good fit for the demographic

Otherwise it’s not design, it’s art.

There are designers who are hired for their particular aesthetic (Stephan Sagmeister in his early days and Reza Abedini come to mind). If that’s your ultimate goal, you can try getting there by taking on clients and projects that are a good fit for your aesthetic or working with studios that are stylistically aligned. I’m also reading a book by Eric Karjaluoto, ‘The Design Method’, it is thought provoking and you might find it useful.

 

In terms of the business / creative balance, it’s very 50-50. I run the studio myself and a lot of it is managing expectations, accounting and learning how to articulate a vision. Often the design is really the icing on the cake!

 

Hope that helped! Keep exploring, designing and making! Always challenge expectations. Best of luck to you 🙂

 

Warm regards,

Industry Folk #2

 

‘Industry Folk No.3’, Creative Director (Buenos Aires-based)

  • Creative Direction
  • Visual Concept
  • Artwork
  • Identity Design
  • Website and Social Media

Hello Tracy.

Thinking about your question, I remembered studying graphic design and always being against everything my teachers told me, because my style seemed very “artistic” and impractical. I planned to never work in advertising, and let my passion guide me.

I think that the moment you know where you want to go, you can focus your creativity on that, if your goal is to be in an advertising agency, listen to your teacher and follow everything they say, but on the contrary if you think Your vision goes far beyond being in an advertising agency follow your creative instinct and let it guide you. In my opinion having a personal style and out of the ordinary is the best thing that can happen to you.

It is true that we need a lot of feedback to know if we are reflecting something positive, but the important thing is that you know to be firm in your opinion.

I see you have a very particular style and you like to experiment, there is an entire industry that you can explore, like music, fashion, conceptual art.

I hope this helps you.

‘Industry Folk #3’

I am actually in the middle of conversing with a niche animator based in the United States and it is very interesting gaining his very personal and honest perspective on the market they operate in.

Other than online communications I was able to interview the Marketing and Graphic Design Manager who is in charge of our college’s Student Associations. There is nothing more special than being able to interview someone in person and our conversation lasted for nearly an hour. So much was covered that I still haven’t summarised my findings yet!

I’ve learnt from engaging with the designers that starting off is always hard, especially if you’re existing in a market where your prime objective is to please others. Many of them had to ‘side hustle’ their personal projects for a long time before being able to have the confidence to pursue their dreams. Often many of the projects that the designers love to do are completed in their own limited time which they, in the end, may not get paid for.

©Tracy Ng. All rights reserved.

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