I am now 77 days into the world of full-time work. Initially the excitement and flattery of being offered my first design position kept me from thinking much about what I wanted to learn or take away from my time, however now with a bit of time to reflect I am learning to be critical about my experience as an intern.
Splitting my time between working 2 days a week as a Studio Assistant for Artist Lakwena MacIver, and 3 days a week as Graphic Design Intern at Mainstage Festivals has proven to be a godsend.
Initially when entering the role of Studio Assistant, although drawn to it both because of the work Lakwena makes and her personality, I was slightly dubious. I was concerned that a role which wasn’t directly Graphic Design might not be a good use of my time. I was wrong about this. Being able to observe the evolving nature of commercial commissions from start to finish, assist on the production and preparation of these, work on studio management has been fantastic. Learning about the logistics and business side of the creative industries not by just speaking about it but witnessing it and playing a role in it has been incredibly helpful. I have learnt about things I didn’t even know I should know about. Not only drawing from the more tangible skills and knowledge I have gained from this experience so far, but considering the worth in the working environment you find yourself in. Having been lucky enough to work so closely with someone who is positive, encouraging and extremely hard-working inherently rubs off and inspires. An awareness of good workplace culture is a value that I will continue to hold in my working life and see as a key element to seek out in my career.
Quite a contrast in many ways, my time at Mainstage has been at times stressful and intense. Working on two successful European festivals (Snowboxx and Kala) has felt a lot like a race to complete tasks on time, in the way that my manager will like, whilst often learning the skill required for the task as I do it. The pressure within this role has truly taught me about time management, quick decision making, and the importance of clear communication. Here are is a frantic note I wrote to myself in a moment of panic/epiphany/frustration at myself/realisation (?)
‘ attention to detail IS important people WILL notice DONT submit something and hope someone won’t notice a mistake/something that isn’t right because they WILL. DONT expect that people will just know what you mean. EXPLAIN your ideas in greater depth and use tools to do so. always do MORE than you think you need and give them options. ‘
As much as it has been exciting working on a live project where most of my work gets used, I have found myself questioning the role I have working as an ‘in-house’ designer and if this is something I want to continue with in my later career. Of course part of the role is to develop the brand, which is highly rewarding to see when suggestions are taken on board and the branding begins to take shape in a slightly different direction. Some of the time it can feel that you need to approach each task with a template using the same colours, typeface and formula. With this, sometimes I feel I am more of a technician/art-worker than a designer.
I think I have come to a point now where I can make more informed decisions about my next steps in my career. My decisions can be based slightly less on speculation and a little more on the experiences I have had so far.