From ABC to EA Digital - Becoming a Junior Designer

After being emerged in the university lifestyle for so long, it is hard to imagine life as a full time designer, and what to expect.

My passion for art and design came from a very early age, so much so by the time I reached high school I couldn’t imagine a different path for my future. In a sense my enthusiasm for the subject made me resent other subjects such as Maths, English and Science. I just wanted to draw!

Although I didn’t crave to learn the wider curriculum I still finished high school with top grades in all subjects, with A* in art of course. This spurred me on to progress my skills and pushed me towards other design subjects. This is when I was first introduced to graphic design!

Creating a piece of art that sat so perfectly on a page was really satisfying, and my simplistic style was enough to race me through College with an A* A level. All of my hard work had paid off, and with University looming I was ready to push my creativity further.

Graphic Design at University was insane! I had never been taught in such an environment where it was acceptable, in fact encouraged, to start painting the walls in the design studio to gain top marks for creativity. I absolutely loved it and it was slowly changing the way in which I was designing. My projects where lead initially by insane ideas and then thought through until they worked well within the design brief.

I was amazed to win a ‘Roses Student Award’ for a design brief I tackled with a friend for a charity called ‘Fishing with Tom’. It landed us an industry placement each, and I was lucky enough to attend the Manchester based agency ‘Like a River’.

When I got the chance to complete an exchange programme and therefore live and attended a University in Barcelona for six months I was thrilled. This was a fantastic opportunity which really helped to push my design standards, surrounded by top design students from Spain and around the world.

Following a few projects I realised that my designs where always typography led, and my love for type and layout was born. I especially am proud of the two hand rendered full typefaces I produced during this time; ‘Continuous’ and ‘Earlybird’.

‘Earlybird’ was the design I submitted as part of a Manchester based design brief. The typeface was created by hand detailing a variety of feathers and bird features within an alphabet, taking me approximately 40 hours to create. It was later featured on Typography Served; check it out here.

I was aware that my creative ideas were becoming quite outlandish, as opposed to feasible in the working industry. Therefore I got in contact with FP7 McCann, a well-established agency based in Dubai, UAE, and asked if I could do a short term internship. This was a big stepping stone in my transition from Student to Junior Designer, as I gained the much needed real-life agency experience I needed. It opened my eyes to brand guardianship from focus business clients and the contrast with those willing to leave it up to the creative to make their business stand out from the crowd.

After graduating with my First Class degree, I was ready to dive into agency life. I received the opportunity to become an intern at Exact Abacus in November 2013, and was offered a full time junior position in January 2014. I had landed my first full time Junior designer role and I was over the moon!

My Exact Abacus experience has been very intriguing so far, I didn’t know what to expect from my first role and I feel very privileged to have started my career here. I work alongside a very dedicated and educated team that are always helping and guiding me along the way.

Since being at Exact Abacus I have worked on many in house design projects including a re-brand of the corporate ID and event collateral.

Exact Abacus wanted to help me to boost my web skill set and therefore paid for a two day course in Manchester. It was a great experience for me and definitely helped to broaden my basic knowledge of HTML and CSS. I now practice in my personal time to ensure I keep learning and refining my coding abilities.

My biggest challenge to date was definitely the 4ft event stand, working out dimensions of images and text to feature at such a large was tricky as I had never designed something of this scale before. I pulled it off and I am very proud of how it turned out below.

Exact Abacus Event Stand 2014
Exact Abacus Event Stand 2014

The anticipation of working as a junior designer can be very nerve-racking, I still panic when sending finalised designs to print even after six months. I am not sure that will ever go away. I like to think it’s my passion for getting it right, which can’t be a bad thing – can it?

by Emily Waddecar on 15/06/2014