It was during my art class in high school that I decided the graphic design industry was where I wanted to be.
I’ve always been stimulated by the visual: symmetry, the composition and relationship of objects, the contrast and harmony of colour pattern, the calm and chaos of light and dark.
At the time there were no grants offered for university and going would be a serious financial decision. Undecided, I wrote to 25 graphic designers around London asking for advice. My main question: “Do I need to go to university for a degree in order to be part of the graphic design world?” Every designer that replied, said: “No! As long as you have a good portfolio. But…do go for the experience of university life!” I wasn’t ruling university out completely but, at the time, my financial security was more important to me than the ‘university experience’ and with their advice to back me up, the decision was made.
When I left school, I was lucky enough to find an equally creative job in visual merchandising. This paid for my distance learning. I took courses in Desktop Publishing, Graphic Design, Photography, Art History. All things that I was keen to learn and build on. I was shaping my future.
It still took time to build on my portfolio but with the emergence of the dial-up, learning became faster, I was able to connect with others and keep current on styles and trends, and the transition of software was amazing! I no longer had to physically place text on acetate, carefully position it on a final image and take it for print.
Dial-up made way for broadband. Word and Paint made way for Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign! Learning became fun again. Who would have thought that layers would be so exciting?! I was creating new things at a whole new level.
From the odd client every few months, my clientele grew, as did my skills. Without realising, I was a freelance graphic designer in Edinburgh. My portfolio interested local business, boosted further by word-of-mouth. My career was set. I’ve worked with organisations such as the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, NHS Scotland, and the Forestry Commission. I’ve helped set up new businesses and modernised already established ones.
It took many, many years and only now, after reading other designers’ inspirational stories on Twitter and Instagram, am I confident and unashamed to say I am a graphic designer.
I am an autodidact.
Despite the advances in technology and software, one things that remains unchanged is the initial research and brainstorming process and that’s just another thing I love about graphic design.