GETTING INTO THE CREATIVE INDUSTRY
Photographer and member of the Ohh Deer creative team, Maddy Gale, gives some helpful hints and tips on paving your way into a creative career! Featuring words from Chloe Hall, Jack Carter & Amy Lesko.
This month we have our stationery subscription box; The Papergang, themed around supporting new creativity! If you’re a new creative you might find this article of some use, and if you need some creative tools for the trade, sign up to Octobers box here to receive some stationery goodness.
Just graduated? Hurrah! No more will exam grades determine your future! It is entirely up to your personality, your portfolio, your experiences and how much you want to succeed, to succeed.
How do you stand out in an oversubscribed industry? Get as much experience as possible. (I’m not talking about a year’s unpaid internship in a large faceless company.) Volunteer at an exhibition that’ll put you on the path of potential employers & like-minded people, start a monthly creative review night at your local pub, establish an online collective or publish a quarterly e-zine. Even if you gain experience not related to your field, it shows a willingness to learn. Although I’m a photographer, I volunteered weekly at the Natural History Museum to catalogue frog collections for 4 months. Bizarre? Yep. But are employers intrigued about it? Yes! I would say that the most successful creative graduates from my year at university were those proactive people who loved throwing themselves into all sorts. Great things can happen because of these tiny little projects!
Freelancers: When you specialise in a craft such as photography, illustration or graphic design, you not only have to fulfill this role, but you need to become the book keeper, marketer, sales manager etc etc. Unfortunately you can’t focus all your time on making beautiful bodies of work! If you need any help on how to structure yourself regarding this, I would 100% follow @nobullschool. Sarah is an inspiration!
Creatives that want to work for a brand: write a bomb ass spangly CV, concise covering letter and make sure your portfolio is relevant and tip top. It wouldn’t even be too much to create work especially for that opening: extra brownie points! Everyone is going to tell you this to be honest, but it’s true! You should rewrite your covering letter for every job you apply for. Your no. 1 goal? Make potential employers remember you! Take them cake, make them laugh and show them that you’ll be a credit to their company. Just be yourself and like-minded work will come to you.
EVERYONE HAS A DIFFERENT ROUTE
Jack Carter – Lead Designer & Illustrator
I knew I always wanted to be in the creative industries but I didn't know how to do it. Like most designers I drew from an early age and art was definitely my best subject through school. When I left school I just tried to design different things like t-shirts and prints. I was then asked to design a wedding invite for a family member and the design I did went down very well. So much so that I decided to start a stationery business with my sister. From that point things snowballed we started selling into big retailers like John Lewis and Paperchase. We took the business in a different direction and I stayed in the industry but wanted new challenges, and now I'm here at Ohh Deer. I think the advice I can give is to work hard even when it seems you're not getting anywhere and be bold and not afraid to speak to people in the industry. You tend to find out everyone is very friendly.
Chloe Hall – Creative Artworker & Freelance Illustrator
I've always loved drawing and anything creative! I studied Graphic Design & Illustration at uni, and haven't stopped drawing since I graduated. I started my own freelance illustration business straight after graduating alongside my part time job in retail, I then left to focus on freelance full time for about 9 months and then got my part time job at Ohh Deer. The skills I learnt from working for myself have been valuable when working as a creative artworker, and vice versa. I think if you are looking to get into the creative industry, build up a body of work that shows varied skills, enter competitions to get your name out there and keep yourself creating new work, and go to events where you can meet other people in the industry, as you never know what can come from a 5 min chat!
Amy Lesko – Designer & Illustrator
I never thought I would make anything of my “creative side”. Throughout school I always took creative classes over the more academic ones, but I always just considered this as a bit of fun and side hobby. It was only when I began to really struggle with my IB years that illustration became a real outlet for me when my other subjects got me down. I used to just post my crappy angsty doodles on tumblr when I was supposed to be doing my science homework (they were getting quite a bit of traction!).
After this I really had no choice but to go to university - living abroad this was my only option; move back to my home country of the UK for study and head back to Bangkok on a tourist visa in-between. I only applied for one course; Graphic Design & Illustration at De Montfort University in Leicester and got it! I was determined to come out with a First and prove to others that I wasn’t stupid (which was how I felt at the end of school) and I did just that! After uni all I wanted to do was draw and design. I worked in retail for 4 days a week, and the other 3 I spent working on personal projects, artist lead zines and the odd friends & family commission. I was offered a position to intern (without pay) at a graphic design agency, but turned this down as I was soon offered a full-time paid role at my dream company of Ohh Deer. I couldn’t believe I got the job of “Jr Designer” and cried when my soon-to-be boss told me I had been chosen. I couldn’t see myself working anywhere else.
Since then I’ve been promoted to Designer and work on my own freelance projects within illustration in the evenings and weekends. I feel if your end goal is to become freelance of some sort, working in-house or at an agency is vital. You learn so much and meet amazing people, I’ve learnt more here in 2 years than I have in my whole creative career! I can apply those skills to my own commissioned projects and really get a full view of the industry as a whole; from a digital file to seeing it on a real product, with everything in-between. You also meet like-minded people who really fuel your creative fire, as you’ll soon notice that everyone bounces off one another.
What are your views on this topic? Share them below in the comments and get the conversation started! Head over to the Papergang Instagram this month for more posts surrounding the topic of new creativity + subscribe to October’s amazing Papergang box!
About the writer
Maddy Gale is a Photographer and Content Coordinator for Ohh Deer. She can often be found whispering to her cabbages and trying to persuade people to stick their hands in soil every now and again. Instagram @sowedgier.