Each summer DA profiles a selection of the top design graduates coming out of our tertiary institutions.
We welcome these talented emerging professionals to our industry, learn about their passions, final projects and dreams for the future.
Was there someone (or something) that inspired you to pick design as a career path?
After completing my 4 year Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Otago, I knew the science career wasn’t for me. During those 4 years, I also worked as a part-time photographer for a company in Dunedin and as freelance alongside my studies. It was during those years that I grew to love photography more and knew I wanted to immerse myself in a creative career.
Additionally, I had always wished to study graphic design. But unfortunately, I was bogged down with the sciences during high school and university.
You completed your full-time studies at the end of 2019. Can you tell us what your final year’s project focussed on?
Yoobee’s Level 6 Diploma in Creative Digital Design is only a 1 year course (40 weeks). During this period, I learnt an immense amount of practical and theoretical skills. The course is split into 4 terms or ‘modules’. The first module is branding, second is information design, third is product launch, and the last is event design – which was a real toughie! At the end of each module, we have a huge final assignment that is worth 100% of our final grade for that term, these are called ‘summatives’.
For the branding summative, my final assignment was based on creating a brand and style guide for a new boutique retail space in Wellington. I chose to brand a store that features purchasing plants and potting it instore before taking it home. The name for my boutique was called Stem & Leaf.
In regards to information design, my summative was focused on identifying a youth issue within NZ and working with the Ministry of Youth Development to create awareness, identification, response, and prevention to the issue. This assignment meant a lot to me as my chosen issue was how social media can affect mental health. I made an informative booklet called ‘Life, not Likes’, delivering the message that likes on social media do not matter, life does.
Product launch was tricky but fun. I had never done graphic design before so creating dielines did do my head a little. My final assignment was making a wine and food pairing Christmas gift set.
Lastly, the event summative. This was an extremely stressful module as this final assignment of the year requires to incorporate branding, info design and product design. As I am very passionate about sustainability and thrifted fashion, I designed an NZ sustainable and thrift market event.
What were some of your most exciting or unexpected discoveries to come out of your project?
To be honest, the whole year has been thrilling. As mentioned before, I had never done graphic design before and this was all new to me. Most of my classmates had done Level 5 the previous year, so I was genuinely surprised I could keep up with them and be quick to learn the Adobe programmes. One of my unexpected highlights was learning to illustrate digitally. I had always been a traditional artist and thought it was going to be difficult to try to draw digitally. But somehow I found my feet and I love illustrating.
Probably the most unexpected and exciting thing was for all my final assignments, I’m immensely proud to say I’ve achieved grades that I’m really happy about. But of course, it’s important to remember grades aren’t everything and they do not define you as a creative.
What did you love doing most?
Definitely illustrating and working with other creatives, such as my classmates and the tutors. It was refreshing being surrounded by other creatives and I learnt a lot from them, especially beforehand I was stuck in labs and lectures full of other scientists!
What was your biggest challenge while studying and how did you overcome it?
I will honestly say that this 1 year graphic design diploma has been more difficult and stressful than university. The hours and effort I put into each of my assignments have been way above than my research and essays for my science degree. I realised that in design, it’s not just about if it looks good, it’s also the rationale and the research behind it. Even though I love researching and justifying things, the hardest part is typing it all out and explaining EVERYTHING. Often, my submission documents for my final assignments were between 80 to 100 pages.
How has your ability and confidence progressed since the beginning of your studies?
Oh, heck yes! When I started, I was one of the very few people who had not done Level 5 previously. I was so nervous that I didn’t know how to use InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop as proficient as my fellow classmates. I was scared I wasn’t going to succeed in my assignments or do well. I was also sad that all my classmates knew each other, and I was the new classmate with no friends. But hey, things have definitely changed and now I have made some seriously rad friends and (hopefully) developed some mint design skills.
How do you see your work and practice developing, and what are your main aspirations?
I’m a huge believer in it’s always good to keep learning and acquiring new knowledge. One of the best things in life is sharing knowledge with one another – that is how we grow, learn, and become better at whatever we do. That’s how I kind of see my work and practice develop.
My main aspirations in life is to help others and to find a job that I will be proud and love to do. My biggest one is probably showing my family that a creative career path is completely viable. They were definitely disappointed when they heard I wasn’t going back to uni and doing graphic design instead.
Which piece in your portfolio are you most proud of and why?
Either my Karma Cola piece or Life, Not Likes.
The Perky Peach Karma Cola piece wasn’t actually marked! It was a mini assignment but allowed me to find my illustration style.
For Life, Not Likes. I was proud of this project because it was on a topic that was dear to my heart. I am an avid social media user, but try to advocate using it for the right reasons. Mental health is a huge issue among our youth and no one deserves to let social media define them, especially what we see online may most likely not be real. I was also proud to have created an informative booklet with original written content and illustrations in hopes to help teens.
What does your dream job look like?
I’m definitely still a photographer at heart. My dream job would be something that consists of both photography and graphic design. I always wished to work for a groovy magazine like Counter Journal, or work alongside ethical and sustainable companies, especially fashion brands.
Why did you choose to study at your design school, and what do you feel you can take away now that you’ve completed your course?
I actually started my first half of the year at the Wellington Campus and then transferred to the Auckland City Road Campus. I had always heard good things about Yoobee and how practical it is – from friends and past students who have studied there. What appealed me the most was that it’s only 1 year (40 weeks). I definitely did not want to commit to another 3-4 year degree after already studying for 4 years! My student loan is definitely huge haha.
Where to next for you? What does 2020 hold?
I’ll definitely be looking for a job that’s relevant to design or photography, or carry on freelance photography but more full time. I’m not entirely sure what will happen in 2020, but that’s what’s exciting about the future.