Laia. Pons Fernandez Graphic Branding and Identity
“What new agency comes from a complete global reset?” In other words: how did you improve yourself to overcome the struggles produced by the global pandemic due to COVID-19. It is commonly known that everyone reacts to change differently, some thrive and others struggle, they are used to a routine and a schedule that works for them. When we were first advised to stay home, my mum decided or better yet, forced me to go back home to Spain. I didn’t mind quarantine at first, I was used to staying home and I enjoyed time to switch off from the outside. But I only visited Spain when I had time off of work and university so I was used to it being like a holiday. I think a lot of people have struggled and everyone’s mental health has really taken one for the team this year. But at the time, I wasn’t seeing that, I could only see everyone thriving. People starting their own businesses, getting fit, started doing commissions, improving themselves. Me? I was neglecting my practice and ignoring time completely. I felt like days, weeks, months were going by but my world, my life wasn’t moving forward, so it didn’t count right?
Stage 1: Denial After quarantine was over (in Spain). I managed to get a summer job as a bartender in a Poolside bar. I was alone as it was small and it was only busy during weekends, so I spent most of my free time drawing. I refused to accept that time kept going forward and I assumed that I would be back in London in no time. I excused not looking for opportunities because I wasn’t “where I wanted to be”. I wasn’t accepting the situation and clearly was not welcoming change nor the opportunity to look for other ways of working and communicate with those who could offer me work. It was not possible to do things the way I was used to therefore I wasn’t gonna do anything at all. That was my mindset. But what caused the most harm is that I wasn’t recognising my own mistakes and wasn’t able to see that I was sabotaging myself.
Stage 2: Anger Realising that time was in fact going forward and it was already September hit me harder than I expected. I have to admit, I have been a procrastinator at times. Everyone has at some point put something aside because you just don’t feel like doing it. But I have always recognised when something is important or urgent, and I put myself to work and get it done. COVID took one look at me and said: sorry but that’s not going to work for me. So, I found myself with no portfolio, no placements and no projects on my hands. Needless to say, I was angry, realising that the situation with the virus wasn’t getting better and I was not going to be back in London at all this year. But I was angrier at myself, why hadn’t I looked for opportunities when I had time? Why hadn’t I designed my portfolio? Created a design Instagram? Or gotten famous with my art on TikTok as everyone else had done? I can say now that this anger just made getting things done more difficult. The energy I was wasting blaming myself for my situation, was taking away from time I could have spent making a plan and just getting things done. I was a little late, so what? It had been a hard few months and everyone goes through things in their own time. Of course, I say that now…
Stage 3: Bargaining And then came a time for reflection, a temporary truce with myself. I had some open doors, I was offered a collaboration illustrating a children’s book. Someone had seen me draw at my work and they asked me to work with them on a book they were writing. I was also offered an internship at a winter events business. I was going to produce design work and logos they needed for events. These fell on my hands and I was so grateful. I had not only managed to get myself involved in projects, but also they could really help me develop my practice and even allow me to learn illustration- expanding my skill set. However, I felt overwhelmed. I felt I had a lot of responsibility and was constantly working to meet deadlines and not let the people I was working with down. At the same time, I was neglecting DPS and the community I was meant to build up… But I had work, it was important, I was doing the right thing…
Stage 4: Depression This was long and intense… It kept intersecting with every step of my journey, and I still battle it every day. I found myself having to message tutors about undone work and feeling overwhelmed. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t able to get things done when I knew I was capable of doing them. I was stressed because I felt the work I was doing wasn’t important. I had never illustrated anything so I had this overwhelming feeling of being lost. And my design internship wasn’t in a design or branding studio. I was the only “creative” in the team, so I felt like what I was learning wasn’t valuable and therefore my experience wasn’t as valid as others’.
Stage 5: Acceptance To this day I still work on acceptance. I have come to an understanding that everyone’s reaction to change is different and everyone’s experiences are valid. There is always something you can learn, I might not have experienced working in a studio with other designers, but I have been learning about collaboration with someone with a different skill set and job description. Putting myself in a daunting situation doesn’t mean that my skills aren’t up to expectations, and I can still excel if I don’t doubt myself. The hardest thing and something I will continue to work on, is trying not to fall back on the negative side of every situation. Opportunities are everywhere, I just have to look and take them, even if they don’t seem like they are the perfect option you have to make the most out of everything.
An original illustration to visually represent my journey