Considering a Career in Graphic Design? Artifact Advertising Designers Give Some Insight

“I realized Graphic Design is an easier way to pay the bills – as opposed to being a starving artist contemplating slicing off and eating your own ear”

Why do many artistically talented people end up as Graphic Designers instead of artists and was it a good career choice for them? We spoke to the design team at Artifact Advertising to get some entertaining insights about their graphic design careers…

What is the thing you love most about design and being a designer?

A: Coming up with a concept and having creative freedom. Doing my own designs. (when I get a free moment).

B: Exploring new ideas! You love to hear that your client is happy with what you have done.
I enjoy designing corporate identities the most…I really enjoy that!

C: Definitely being creative, seeing design differently to the average Joe and finding it’s something that ‘feeds your soul’… and of course coming to work in slippers if I really wanted to

D: The challenge of a difficult brief, coming up with something fresh.

Are there any designers that inspire you?

A: Oh yes! I love browsing Looking at all these designs always gives me a kick!
My favourite, favourite South African designers must be Louis Minnaar and Anthony Dart

B: Yes! And I love the site “Behance”, where they showcase other designers. I just love the creativity and new ways of thinking!

C: There is an illustrator and designer that I absolutely love – Rachel Riordan.

D: Designers like Charles S Anderson, Daniel Palavin, Neville Brody, Louise Fili, Paula Scher and Adolphe Mouron Cassandre Inspire me every day.

What are the design trends at the moment and how have these changed over the years?

A: Hand drawn and 3D fonts, and of course textures and retro shapes. Mmm, they kind of change a bit each year, so I can’t tell – that’s what makes it so exciting!

B: The saying “less is more!” Now design is neater and not too busy, more vectors and illustrations are being introduced than the past.

C: I personally like clean, flat colours (no drop shadows). The “vintage” look is very big at the moment with website design, with natural textures.

D: Keep it simple.

Where do you get inspiration for original designs?

A: From those designers and sites I’ve just mentioned. I’m also very much inspired by nature! Also the fact that we’re not American, but African! South African design rules!

B: On websites such as Behance – and Exclusive Books!

C: I have a few sites I am addicted to for awesome packaging ideas and for the latest trends in web design. Sitting for hours in a book shop looking at design books gives one great inspiration too.

D: Answer Censored

What would be your ideal job as a designer?

A: I suppose I’d love to work for myself or to be a creative director – just coming up with the big idea and everybody loves it!!

B: For one day to work my way up as a designer and learn from others. It would be great to be a creative director one day

C: I would love to conceptualise themes and ideas for events and do all the design work that goes behind it. Something that involved traveling and designing would be great too but don’t think those two go hand in hand.

D: Designing Music graphics, posters, Cd covers. Oh and designing book covers

Any funny or crazy experiences you have had in your career?

A: Everyday we enjoy a few laughs in studio. Every day brings something new. We once had a client who thought he could do his own photo shoot for his products and it would look fine. This client sells food and one of the burgers he shot, had a big fly on it. Epic fail!! What’s the chances!

B: Yes!! I had such a blonde moment at college! There were two PC’s next to each other in class and my friend asked me to help him. I took the mouse and looked at his screen to show him where to go, and spent ages wondering why the mouse was not working! Meanwhile I was moving my own mouse!

C: While studying I was a finalist for a packaging competition and had a photo shoot and an article written with a magazine about my design. Anyways, about 4 years later I went on holiday and we stayed in this little hotel in Kimberly – I think we might have been the only ones staying in the hotel – and the hotel had supplied reading material next to my bed. Out of all the magazines they could have chosen in the world, it was the magazine I was in. I ran around the hotel holding the magazine up to my face, smiling and pointing to the staff that that was me. I think they thought I was crazy, definitely not anyone even mildly famous as I didn’t even get asked for an autograph

D: Answer censored

When did you first realize you wanted to be a graphic designer and why?

A: I’ve always been interested in art. When I was little drawing and painting were my favourite things! My parents are both very creative people an architect and an art teacher. I grew up watching my Mom in the pottery studio and my dad always made me draw and page through art books.
In high school I took art as a subject. I went to a university’s open day for graphic design, and I just knew – this is for me!

B: In high school I took art as a subject and can draw very well. After I matriculated I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I knew that I must do something that involves being creative. I was advised that I could either study graphic design or fine arts. I did not want to draw (fine arts) as a career because then something that you enjoy would just become another job.

C: I first realized I wanted to be a graphic designer in Standard 5 (I went around telling everyone I was going to be a ‘graphic artist’ and that they used actual computers to do the art). I always loved drawing and being creative and I was set on becoming a graphic designer.

D: I came to love design through studying the history of graphic design, designers throughout history have been great artists, although times have changed. I was studying Fine art, but realized I could still be creative if I followed a career in commercial art, plus finding its way easier paying the bills opposed to being a starving artist contemplating eating your own sliced off ear. I love typography from the first half of the twentieth century and the modern designers who revived it.

What was your perception of being a designer then and what is the reality?

A: I expected it to be more exciting and creative. Unfortunately we spend a lot of time sitting in an office in front of a computer. Not really that creative. Sometimes sticking to the same corporate Id’s really kills your creative spirit. But hey, I don’t regret anything. Graphic design is filled with amazing possibilities!

B: I was told by many designers that it’s really rough working in the industry and you don’t get any respect as a new designer. What I have experienced is quite the opposite! I really enjoy the work and feel part of the team!

C: I thought being designer you would have more freedom to be creative but it is sometimes rather restricting. I probably enjoyed studying more than working as the ideas were limitless and there was never a budget. The real world of a working designer isn’t what I expected but then I didn’t really know what to expect. I still wouldn’t change it for anything though!

D: I think every design student thinks they will land in their first job and everyone will be in awe of your talent, you’ll be the toast of the Loeries and supermodels will fall at your feet as you hold your mac up in the air. I still enjoy the challenge, the creation of concepts and putting a bit of your self in everything, even if your soul gets stomped every now and then.

What tips would you give someone who is thinking about a career in graphic design?

A: If you’re dreaming of being an artist (painting and drawing all day) – don’t study graphic design – it’s much more formal and corporate than you think.
Studying graphic design is a huge commitment – prepare to say bye-bye to your social life – this means intense hard work! So many late nights, but in the end – I’m still so happy with my choice. I’m excited about the possibilities I’ve got – being a designer!

B: Are you prepared for being creative and using most of your time designing? Be inspired by what’s out there for creative ideas. I was told that if you have a creative block, stop, relax and go do something you enjoy. Go back and try again when you are more calm and relaxed.

C: Know what it’s like in the real world. In the real world people have deadlines and budgets and your biggest idea can squished by a client and leave you feeling very despondent. You also spend nearly all of your day in front of your computer… and your chair becomes your buttock’s best friend! Don’t do it if you don’t have a passion for it.

D: Find designers that inspire you, even if you start emulating their work, you’ll eventually find a style of your own. Also question everything, never follow a brief word for word, be a rebel.

Where did you study design and would you recommend it – if not where would you recommend studying design?

A: North-West University, Potchefstroom (Ci-Lab -Creative intelligence Lab). This institute is definitely one of the best in the country. I’ve been to a few design school exhibitions in Jhb, and nothing comes even close to the standard I was used to. I will definitely recommend North-West University. This institute usually walks away with the most Loeries and Pendorings each year. Watch out!

B: I was at “Vaal University of Technology”, I enjoyed it there a lot and they took us to every exhibition and to indaba if we wanted to go. This place has a high standard of work, according to the evaluators we had.

C: I studied at Greenside Design Center but I often wish I had studied at Vega. Design Center was a lot of fun though and I made friends for life there that share the same passion as I do.

What is the thing you like least about being a designer?

A: Sitting in front of a computer.

B: Clients that are really difficult to please.

C: Sitting all day in front of a computer, in the same chair, doing the same routine.

D:The narrow mindedness of some clients

Well there you have it – some valuable insights from our team that we hope will be useful to anyone considering a career in Graphic Design.