On the rather sunny and glorious day that was this past Friday the 26th, I was sitting at my desk at work, checking Mashable, when was jolted back to reality by a little tap on my shoulder. It was my boss – like, the boss boss. What eventuated from a ten minute ‘conversation’ between the two of us was that my role was now ‘redundant’ within the company. I take a lot of pride in the fact that I didn’t react too over-zealously to the bad news. I was not offended, nor was I devastated. Don’t get me wrong, I am still having to brush away the occasional thoughts of “it’s because I suck“. I understood why it had to be – finances.
And so I’ve stepped back into the big wide world. I have more perspective, a heck of a lot more skill, and a considerably thicker skin. What an intriguing array of jobs I’ve had over the years. After it all, I can say this: I hate telesales down to my bones, and I love digital design to the point it makes me salivate.
What’s next? We’ll see. In the mean time, I am updating my folio site. Stay tuned, lovelies.
I recently stumbled upon a neat little app, Polar. Self-described as a super-fast and easy way to create and vote on great-looking photo polls, Polar is fast gaining popularity and it’s no surprise why. Of course, everyone (particularly the new i-generation) likes to share their own opinions and talk about themselves – I mean that’s why social networking is as popular as it is. Social networking, I believe, is %50 ‘social’ and %50 self-indulgence. That’s not the only reason Polar is so popular though.
Despite the fact that I don’t particularly believe in the notion of binary opposition (or ‘polar opposites’ – as this app is ‘punning’ on), I really adore this app. As I mentioned before, it indulges my self-obsessed side and my nerdy side. Not only that, but it pleases my design side as well (yes, I have three sides. I’m a triangle – so hipster right now).
Luke Wroblewski tested and wrote about the app a while ago in his post titled Testing One Thumb, One Eyeball Use (yep, hijacked the title – what a zinger). His article was further deconstructed by John Pavlus of FastCoDesign.com here. They pick out some interesting points which I think many designers and developers pass over when creating an interactive social app.
Of course, we are increasingly using our mobile devices to take in information rather than the tv and desktop. While this is the case, we aren’t solely focussing all our energy on the one app/program on our mobile devices at one time – we are multiscreening. Companies/apps such as Fango are taking advantage of this – the idea is to use their app on your smartphone while you watch telly. Thus, what we (designers/developers) should be doing is designing and building apps in such a way that the UX and UI is still effective and coherent when users are only half paying attention – one thumb and one eyeball, per se. This is something that Polar does quite well. John and Luke cover other points in their respective articles but I think the point I highlighted should really be more considered in the current market. It just concretes in my mind how unquestionable it is when people say; ‘Keep it simple, stupid.‘
I’ve worked in advertising now for something like nine months now. That may not seem like a long time, but when your industry is an intense as advertising is, it feels like decades. I’ve moved departments, I’ve witnessed scores of hirings, redundancies and resignations. I’ve cringed when we’ve lost clients and projects, and felt genuine pride when we’ve won others. I’ve made mistakes but I’ve also impressed. I’ve cried, yelled, sworn and …well, danced (albeit quite drunkenly). In an industry such as advertising, you aren’t sure what you’re going to get when you walk into your office. The only sure thing in your day is that copious amounts of coffee will be consumed. Advertising is highly competitive. There is at least five agencies alone in the suburb I work in (Richmond, Melbourne, AUS), many of which are highly regarded nationally and internationally. Five meters from my workplaces door, for example, is the building of DDB Melbourne.
Recently, I have been experiencing some rough times in my personal life. More than once within the past week I have left the office from air and have burst into tears. I have friends and colleagues that are providing me exceptional support, but what happened late on Thursday afternoon (March 14th) left me speechless.
At around 4PM I received an email from reception letting me know that there was something waiting for me. I didn’t have time to go pick it up, so the Concierge bought it over to my desk. It was a large bag of goodies, and sitting on top was this note:
The beautiful note that came with a big bag of goodies.
So… even though the advertising industry is apparently cut-throat, there is still room for beautiful, kind gestures such as this. Faith in humanity somewhat restored.
Well, the time has come to move on from my first apartment in the heart of Brunswick. I’ve enjoyed living there immensely – it’s an inspiring part of town. The street art, great coffee, multitude of ethnicities and the sheer volume of bikes to perve on. As much as I’ve enjoyed staying in Brunswick, I don’t quite feel I fit in there – perhaps not even on this side of the river entirely. I grew up mainly in the south/south-east part of Melbourne, on the other side of the river. The street art still quite prevalent, there’s still a metric fuck-tonne of coffee shops but the vibe is somehow different. The main thing I’ve missed is the greenery. I dig the urban feel, but there’s something about smelling cut grass and flowers every day that just makes life a little sweeter. And I miss that. Maybe I’m a bit of a hippy at heart.
So my partner, myself and our two little cats have put in our notice to vacate our Saxon St apartment. The packing is nearly done. We have secured a new pad. Perfect location in St Kilda – in the little triangle of love snuggled between Barkly St, Carlisle St and Acland St. St Kilda still has a grungy feel that Brunswick has. The difference is that I could (and will) just jump on my bike and within minutes be able to sink my feet into the sand or zone out in the Botanical Gardens. It’s just a very familiar part of Melbourne for me.
In other news, I snagged a little old bike from Gumtree for $50. It’s a gem. Nothing amazing, but it’s perfect for me. To ride it feels like a weird mix of BMX and vintage commuter. Plus, it has ape hangers. I fucking love ape hangers.
So, during my downtime at work I don’t want to just sit there and let my brain stagnate. While scrolling endlessly through Facebook reading posts that I, frankly, rarely care about is a past-time and a habit of many, I don’t want to do that at work – even if there isn’t currently anything on my plate. After leaping around like a gnat asking if I can help anyone with anything, I then turn to a sketchbook. But that quickly loses it’s appeal as I don’t feel as if I’m being useful to anyone or any thing except my boredom. So what better to do than trawl the internet for inspiration and information so that I can learn and grow in my current position. I have subscribed to and started habitually reading at least 15 advertising based blogs. I’ve done the same with at least 10 other blogs that are about creative pursuits. Once I’ve organised them in some sort of comprehendible list I will post them – I encourage you all to do the same with your valuable bookmarks.
In my brief periods of downtime at work I’ve been trawling around blogs and so on – you know, the usual crap that I do.
I sit in the corner of the office with three other designers/AD’s who are in their twenties so we’re all in a similar boat even though they’ve been at the company longer than I have. Obviously, we share ideas and blogs and inspiration and ads and generally recycle each others oxygen. Recently one of these kids reminded me of a blog I used to frequent – LifeAtTheBottom.com. It’s a great little site, even if I do find it a little visually unappealing. I ventured into the subsection for my new nook in the creative world… advertising. I’m new to this field but I come from design which isn’t vastly different. There is more thought, strategy, psychology and flesh behind every single detail in advertising; whereas I find flat design to be more about making things look good for good-lookingness sake. So I’m in my second week in this industry/this huge company and I’m still frightened, to be honest. I’m still green with terminology they use and I haven’t crawled out of my hovel far enough to be able to generate any meaty ideas. But I’ll get there. And this is where I get to the crux of my ramble: LifeAtTheBottom.com has two brief posts which that address things that I was originally going to write about.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK
My god. If I hadn’t asked questions and been proactive, I would not be where I am today (which, I like to think, is a pretty special place). Furthermore, if I hadn’t eventually grown the balls to ask questions at this workplace, I wouldn’t be doing myself or this company any bloody good – just wasting time and money and effort. I came from a world where everyone was a designer – now everyone is an Art Director. I went from thinking I was pretty savvy, to being confused about terms like MREC, leaderboard and what in the blue blazes is a ‘leading edge’!? There’s The Suits and The Creatives and of course, true to stereotype, they don’t understand each other in any capacity. Sentences like this fly around constantly: “What’s the ETA on the scamps for the MREC? I need them ASAP and at the latest by COB!” …say what?
SHOW YOUR PERSONALITY
You know why it’s so fucking hard to get a job these days? Because there’s so many talented creatives out there. Everyone has a website and a folio and a pdf. Okay, you’ve got your degree and your certificate and a diploma in fuck-yeah-I-can-design. Yep, you’ve got a spectacular list of clients and experience coming out your nostrils. A lot of people do. Put a little bit of yourself into your folio, though. Some personal stuff, some not-so-refined work. A paragraph about you. Your first drawing to show how far you’ve come? Footer your resume with your favourite quote? End your email with a witty call to action? To be honest, that’s what I did and it got me an interview. I walked in ready to show my work and the CD’s sat down and said – “We know you can design, we know you’re talented. Let’s just chat about yourself and your processes.” No bullshit. I kept injecting my personality into my interactions though – I guess I couldn’t help myself. The person I was meant to meet for an interview bought two other CD’s with her and said “I hope you don’t mind” so I said “No no, of course that’s fine! I’ll just shit my pants here – I’m not nervous at all.” Now I don’t recommend swearing in an interview – but you know what I’m getting at. Be honest, be completely real, be yourself and be yourself hard.
If you want to be successful in design, I’d say it is pretty important that you are able to define your own design philosophy. It doesn’t have to be pages of incredible prose. It needs to be a combination of your beliefs about design – as an industry, as a process, as a profession. What it is, why it is, and how it is to you. I very vaguely touched on my own in my bio.
You can find some neat philosophies from some well-known designers, but I have to say that Steve Jobs had some real pearls of wisdom – and I’m not just saying that because I’m some sort of die-hard Apple fan (I kind of am). A lot of design/advertising studios will discuss their philosophies on their websites – it’s a good way to deduce whether you would fit in there.
Do you know what your design philosophy is? Well? Tell me then.
Finally, another post from what has become a quite elusive me.
While it may be most obvious to say I’ve just been hibernating in this most frosty of Melbourne weather, I actually have been doing something. I mean, sure, it’s mostly been hanging around on tumblr - but I swear I have done some other stuff. I re-jigged my folio and resume. I also joined Dribbble and Usabilla Discover, which have been a wealth of inspiration and amusement. As ever, I’m still lurking on Twitter, too.
But all of that is completely beside the point. Recently, I met up with a friend who helped me rejig that folio above. I also got in contact with the wonderful people at Firebrand. The result of these two things, and my obvious incredible charm & talent, I’ve managed to nab myself a job as a Junior Digital Designer at a quite large advertising agency here in Melbourne.
Keep an eye out here and on my other sites (top right corner), because I’m going to be getting all up in amongst it.
I am trained in the art and business of visual communication – I’m a designer. I have spent years developing and utelising my visual language skills in order to convince, educate, inform, delight, direct and inspire. I’ve read countless pieces of literature and heard many lectures on the subject as I’m sure many of you have too (if you’re in a similar field). As I develope further in my current role as a Sales Agent, I’ve had to work hard at using my visual communcation knowledge, manipulating it and applying it to verbal communication.
It is important not to discount how much ones strengths in one field of communication can translate into other fields.
A new year equals a new outlook and a clean slate. Recently I’ve been reading some posts over at JCD (fast becoming one of my go-to sites for some motivation and business inspiration). Some recent posts have gotten the cogs turning and I’m keen to start fresh.
Since December of last year I have been working at a call centre in South Melbourne. I have worked in this field briefly before and while it isn’t my ideal industry, it has really helped me grown my interpersonal interaction skills. I enjoy learning about the psychology behind sales and social interaction. I have also spent a large amount of spare time researching and learning about the nitty gritty of social media. What I find interesting, and I have spent time writing about, is how these traditional communication techniques can better translate and be integrated into this new media. There is a lot of potential.
What’s your view on Social Media and Social Networking?
As I’ve been raving on about, the Positive Posters exhibition/party and winner announcement was last night. It was a great night – sweet venue, good company and some amazing work talking about some really important issues. I’m extremely proud and honoured I could be a part of it! I didn’t win or place – which is a shame – but I cannot even fathom being disappointed as I was lucky enough to be a part of the Top Thirty. That alone is an achievement I am beyond proud of – and to think there was work by Yoko Ono at the show? Me, a group show with the likes of Yoko Ono? Wow.
There is a lot to be said about the aura of an artwork – I believe completely in the notion. I had seen work by one of my favourite artists (Artemisia Gentileschi) before – in books and online, but seeing her work in the flesh in Melbourne and Florence was incredibly moving. Maybe I suffer from Stendhal syndrome - who knows! Being surrounded by those posters at the Positive Posters exhibition was an exciting, moving and quite emotional experience for me. What made them more special, I believe, is not just the fact that there was such good work and amazingly talented people surrounding me, but also the fact that these posters were designed to highlight global issues. These posters were, in a way, semi-selfless (it was a competition, y’know) acts of designers who wanted to better humanity. That is a beautiful thing!
The winners can be seen currently on the front page of the PP website, but they are also below. They are thoughtful, witty and clever – well deserving winners. Quite proud to see a Pole in there too! ;) Congratulations!!
In other news: had a great job interview yesterday so fingers crossed for that. Got along extremely well with the woman who would be managing me so I am feeling quite hopeful. Today, however, is set aside purely for freelance work. I’m doing some work for a client whose customers are Universal Studios in Singapore. That… is pretty damn sweet.