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Breaking into the creative industry
4th October 2017
Growing up I was never sure what I wanted to ‘be’. I never had the stereotypical aspirations of being a doctor, lawyer, or something equally impressive. I didn’t have that career in mind that would be amazing in that awkward first-meet that always turns to the dreaded question of “so, what do you do?”
At school and growing up I tried to always chose to do what I was interested in and I selected my subjects based on what I liked doing. I got a buzz out of doing what I felt I was good at and I don’t remember ever applying pressure on myself to have a bigger goal or plan.
I initially recognised my interest in a more creative side during my work experience in a photography studio. My dad was a photographer when I was growing up so it was natural for me to be around cameras. The photography environment seemed like a safe choice for me. I never even considered that I would end up totally loving it.
My mum would probably disagree that this was the first of my creative flair and instead tell you it was when I asked for the same Crayola art set every year for Christmas or when I cried my eyes out all the way around the shops for a new colouring book but hey, potato, tomato.
After school, I was accepted for an interview at The City of Glasgow College for Art and Design, where one of the lecturers and I discussed my portfolio. He was the first to recommended that, based on my work and interests, I should consider a place on their Visual Communication (Graphic Design) course instead of Art and Design. Crazy as it may sound now, this was the first time I had ever heard about Graphic Design! I was curious and evidently a bit mental back then as I pretty much, on a whim, decided to accept his offer to change my decision. You’re reading this correctly, I began studying Visual Communication when I genuinely wasn’t even 100% sure what it was.
Big shout out to him because my next 3 years at college were amazing and the spontaneity certainly paid off. I loved the creative briefs on the course and the lecturers were so passionate it was infectious. If I could go back and do it over again I would in a heartbeat. And to think it all started from that half an hour interview conversation. Sometimes I wonder where I’d be if he hadn’t steered me onto the course.
Leaving college was unnerving to say the absolute least, after all the hard work and madness of pulling together a portfolio I had been accepted to a couple of art schools. I always had a plan in the back of my head that I would study at one if I was lucky enough to get in. You’d think these offers would have filled me with enthusiasm but for some reason when it came right down to it I just didn’t feel like it was for me anymore. I was ready to go into the world and get a job. I decided to take some time out, increase my hours on at my part-time job and to begin the search for a full-time employment-my first ‘big girl’ job.
As many people will tell you, getting a job in the creative industry isn’t easy. The creative industry has some unique hurdles to overcome – the competition is SO fierce, SO varied, and SO constantly changing. There’s no typical right way to do things so your work is only as good as the person viewing it perceives it to be. Trends go in and out quickly – that poster you did 6 months ago and thought was your best work? Yeah, it’s gonna need a re-vamp. With all this taken in account it took me around a year of searching to nail down my first job. At this early stage in your career you can’t help but think that people are taking a chance on you, you don’t really have any experience and you’re not even sure what you bring to the table yet. It can be easy to lose your confidence and after some time away from education you may think about giving up searching altogether. It did cross my mind at points that I may never make a career from my qualification.
Despite all this, a couple of years ago I was lucky enough to walk through the doors at SNS Group. I wish I could go back, as I walked up to the door choking up with pre-interview nerves, to tell myself that it would soon all fall into place.
Looking back I can say that my first two years at SNS have been a total whirlwind, I never knew I could learn so much or that I had so much to learn! I am still constantly gaining new skills on the job every single day, things really never stop changing and advancing in this industry. It helped that I was surrounded by highly experienced and talented individuals in what was at the time a 2 man design department (there’s now 4 of us).
I still remember my first day so vividly, sitting in front of my huge big shiny Mac just staring at it. I was full of mixed emotion about the situation raring to go but equally terrified that I wouldn’t be what they expected me to. Since then with the help and guidance of my department, I have totally changed as a designer and developed so many skills I never thought I would have – the lessons from my peers have been truly invaluable to me.
No two days in this job are the same and they all fly by – dipping in and out of jobs, clients meetings and designing. I can honestly say I am happy with where I have ended up, 5 years ago I would never have dreamed I would be here doing what I am. I’m aware I still have so far to go and so much more to learn I have to say I am so grateful for what has come my way so far.
I started writing this blog with a very specific topic in mind and reading it back now that is far from what it has turned out to be – seems fitting in the context. The point is maybe life doesn’t always have to be planned out to get positive results. Most of the time in my life the best things happened when I took the unexpected chances. I certainly didn’t end up sticking to most (if any) of the plans I had for myself in the beginning but I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
Positive mental attitude speeches aside, here I am now, Lauren Rutherford – Graphic Designer.
I can honestly say I feel like it’s cool to say that in my awkward first meeting conversations. Even if no ones knows what it actually means…