Hello and Welcome to Design Splat Louise!
To get the readers started tell us a bit about what you do:
I’m currently living away from home, studying graphic design at Nottingham Trent University. I love branding and the idea of packaging interests me. I wish I was good at publication design, that’s one thing I’d love to get my head around.
How did you get into Graphic Design?
It’s an interest I’ve always had and always wanted to develop. I started out teaching myself and learning by trial and error but am steadily improving with the help of being at University. Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved to draw and be creative in one way or another. Plus, for as long as I’ve had a computer I’ve always been interested in playing around with software etc. so it wasn’t long before the two came together. I love figuring out new tricks so I always found little projects to do throughout school, which was great for experience and experimentation.
Do you have qualifications in design? How important do you think qualifications are for designers?
I’m halfway through my degree now and two years prior to starting my course I completed my A-Levels which included graphic design. The 2 years in between college and university were a bit of a test for me, I tried freelancing in a number of different ways, some successful, some not so much. It all depends where you want to be. I think qualifications are extremely important for working your way up in a big (sometimes even small) organisation. I’ve had doors closed on me before I’ve had a chance to even show off my work, simply because I don’t have a piece of paper that says I am ‘qualified’. It seems like you can only get your foot so far in the door without having studied at higher education. At one point university wasn’t even a concern of mine, but I’m glad I got in there when I did.
When creating graphics, what to you is the most important aspect: planning design or implementation and why?
I think both are equally important to some extent and you can’t have one without the other. Planning is so vital to me, it almost always has to make sense. I think content drives design, so for me to create a polished outcome I really have to understand where my idea came from. There’s a quote from a few years back that I like to remind myself of by Jeffrey Zeldman. He said “Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.” I fully believe in that with most projects and I try to live by that with each brief I get. I guess that answer is in terms of fitting a brief because on the other hand, you can have something totally spontaneous be something absolutely beautiful.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Well I will have graduated by then so hopefully I’ll be in a nice job, in a city I love, that pays well, challenges me and allows me to thank the family and friends that have helped me out along the way. I’d say I’ve got some pretty big favours to return.
Own Business/Freelance or working for a company?
It’d be great to experience a bit of everything really but I’m not so sure I want to be a lonely designer again in a hurry, so I think it’d be great to work my way up in a company. I do love handling a job on my own but I really enjoy throwing ideas around in a group too and I feel that would work best in a company environment.
If you could work for any client who would it be and why?
That’s a really tough question, one I’ve never properly thought about. At the moment it’s looking like I’m gearing my portfolio towards mostly branding, so I guess a big branding job of pretty much any description would be looking good right now.
Does fame attract you?
You could say so, I’d love to be known and respected for my work. That would be a great achievement. I’m striving for an enriched life, so as long as I enjoy what I do and am making a comfortable income, I’ll be happy.
How do you rate yourself as a designer?
I’d say I’ve came a long way from aimlessly sitting at a computer trying to make things work but obviously there’s still a lot to learn. I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning, at least I hope not. On the whole, things seem to be coming a lot more naturally as of late, I feel like I’ve introduced a real process to my work from start to finish.
What makes a good graphic designer?
Great ideas, and good communication of those ideas. As well as an understanding of each element of design – colour, typography, layout, etc. Consistency too, I guess – as far as work ethic goes.
Where do you go for inspiration?
Everywhere. It’s mostly within the research I do for a project that an idea comes out. Sometimes just a walk to clear my head is all I need for inspiration. I mostly check out design blogs and websites as well as books I own. A good sleep can be inspiring too, I think sometimes we over analyse the problems and force ourselves to find a solution when really it can surface at the strangest of times. Have a break, have a cat nap.
What obstacles – if any, have you encountered along the way?
Difficult clients. Creative block. Hardware failure. There’s been all sorts of hurdles but nothing that I couldn’t get around yet.
Do you think the Graphic Design Industry is difficult to get into?
Well I don’t think too fondly of those who think they can just jump straight into it as if it’s an easy job. But if someone has ideas and an eye for it, they can definitely be taught and even developed into a designer. You don’t just suddenly wake up one day and decide you’re a graphic designer though, you get as much out of it as you put in. I think it’s extremely competitive but it can be a friendly thing – and there’s always gonna be demand for design, so in that aspect, there’s a place for everyone.
What do you think it takes to become successful in the Graphic Design industry?
Probably good ideas, communication and the ability to compromise. Understanding that what you want and what the client wants may be two completely different things but being able to meet in the middle can be key.
Which design websites do you visit on a regular basis?
I’ve been known to check out Behance on an almost daily basis, it’s cool and really encouraging to check out who’s been viewing your work and to see what’s new around the globe. Off the top of my head, Friends of Type is always a fun visit, same with Designspiration. Even Flickr can be a good search, and I’m a sucker for scoping out Tumblr.
Do you get bored with your job if yes how do you overcome this?
I can get bored within a project if I feel it’s dragged out too long and I’ve had to keep revisiting old stuff but not if it’s steady paced and constantly improving. I think mostly I grin and bare it when it gets boring. I’d say I get creative block more than I get bored – in which case I research every tiny detail until I’m inspired.
If you weren’t a graphic designer, what would you be?
I honestly don’t know. This is the one thing I’ve ever been most certain of in my whole life. I always wonder what ‘talent’ I might have discovered if I wasn’t so wrapped up in making graphic design work. I guess I’ll never know… and that might just be for the best.
I really love tall, narrow sans-serif fonts. But I’ve also got a thing for quirky hand drawn type and script. A bit of everything but never anything too novelty-like.
Software you couldn’t live without?
Creative suite. iTunes. Wordpad.
Mac or PC?
I prefer Mac but up until a few months ago I’d been using the same PC for the past 10+ years. It’s all down to preference and circumstance really but if you’ve got the skills you’ll make it work no matter what tools you have. That’s a true designer.
Three words to describe yourself?
Indecisive. Ambiguous. Hopeful.
Hobbies and Interests?
My friends and family are my interests. I love gigs, movies, good food, having fun and laughing lots. Oh and is it cheesy to say designing is a hobby?
I honestly couldn’t name one to settle on, it changes every week. There’s not one single designer that I idolise, I just know what I like when I see it. You could say I had a huge obsession with Jon Contino’s work last year. I love his lettering. I enjoy a wide range of styles but I never coin ‘favourites’.
Tools of the trade?
Whatever I need to get the job done. Most commonly involved in a project for me are an A6 journal, pens, squared paper, my computer and tablet/pen – I get major cramp with a mouse. I should probably explore different materials and such more often but that’s something I’ll get round to when it suits the brief. There’s a few things I’m working on right now that use new materials and exploration.
Best and worst piece of work?
I’m tempted to say the more recent stuff I’m working on right now is my better work. And my worst, well, I can think of a number of random pub posters and flyers that would put me to shame. Good job I’m not a fan of slapping my name on everything I do.
Any Tips or advice to share with aspiring designers?
Don’t give up. Seriously, the sleepless nights will be worth it.
Some pieces from Louise’s portfolio: