Juliette Stuart BA Illustration and Visual Media
I wanted to make this post to talk about my fish-out-of-water experience as an illustrator who found her way into a design internship in an advertising agency. Not being particularly educated about either of those two fields I had a set of ideas about what my job would be, what I would be working on and how suited I actually was for the position – but my four months at Karmarama went above, beyond and completely off tangent from all my expectations.
Part ! – How it all began: I won the internship at Karmarama through a competition brief to design their new company tote bag. Myself and another student from GBI won, and I went first out of the two of us. Studying illustration, I had only recently begun to understand design after working with some GMD students on our first DPS project with R/GA, but my lack of technical knowledge and skill made me feel stupid and anxious. I worried that another DPS student would have benefitted more from the placement than me. I worried that the company would regret bringing me in at all. I worried that I would never be good enough to do any ‘real’ work, and would be spending the next few months ‘playing’ with the projects that my team members were working on. I also am not a great fan of mass consumer culture, or spending heaps on money on products, and I thought that this would be what we were creating adverts for. I turned out to be wrong about all of the above.
Part II – How it began to change: As the weeks went by I got to know my amazing team; they were so helpful – answering every question I had, constantly assisting me with every technical issue I encountered and telling me everything I wanted to know about design. At the start, instead of constantly working I was allowed time to do my own personal projects, and watch online tutorials to up my digital skills, enabling me to expand what I could offer to the team. Through working on my own things people could see what I was capable of, and eventually by week 6 I was booked on to a project as the sole and only designer, and from that point onwards I was busy with live client work until the end. I also experienced a massive shift in my attitude towards advertising as an industry, in fact – as per one of my previously stated worries – not once did I work on anything to do with selling a product. Our clients include charities, health care services intent on changing the world and we have campaigned for inclusivity in the army (that campaign has been winning multiple awards this year) and Pride campaigns designed to increase thinking about countries that may not have the same LGBT rights as our own. There may be a few comparatively duller clients but Karmarama does do good in the world. Finally, the biggest change for myself personally was fostering a newfound passion for design. I began to understand it as a discipline – admittedly maybe not to the depths a GMD student understands – but the passion has been kindled nevertheless. I would have laughed at you a year ago if you told me that one day I would be getting excited about all the fonts I could take from the work server on my last day.
Part III – How it will affect my future: First and foremost, although it may sound cheesy, the biggest way Karmarama has impacted me has to do with confidence. I went from being timid and afraid to understanding and learning that I am in fact capable and have potential. I have worked on live briefs in a fast packed creative industry, and I know that this will assist me in getting further placements, and has made me less scared of starting my next. It has taught me ways of design thinking, and I have begun to plan future creative projects that center more around design as a discipline, rather than illustration. The tools and technical skills have already influenced my creative process, I am beginning to discover my own style and taste every day and having the skills to create exactly what I see in my head. Overall, it has been the most amazing experience with the most amazing people. I owe everyone at Karmarama a lot.
I hope my experience serves as proof that sometimes it is necessary to put yourself in a place out of your comfort zone. A steep learning curve goes hand in hand with reaching greater heights.
Shout out to my [ex]design team if you’re reading this – Simon, Aisling, Josh, Hadria & Ryan. Stay vibey.