Many designers like to think of a specialty – in fact, that's how things should be.
However, way too many employers overestimate the simply human capabilities of a single designer. In other words, it is not uncommon for an employer to hire a designer for what would be the workload of an entire small creative team. This is not what designers are or should be, and if there's one thing graphic designer Lauren Brecher would like to change in the creative industry, it is precisely that misconception.
For this Member Spotlight, we are learning more about the life, story and career of an ambitious graphic designer, who clearly (judging by her story below) had to go down the path of being a multi-department one-stop-shop in the course of her career. We are glad to see she nailed everything just perfectly.
How did you get into the industry?
I’ve always loved art and design from a young age. It’s what inspired me to enrol and complete my Design Degree at the Durban University of Technology in South Africa.
Where are you based now and who do you work for?
I am based in London. I am working for All LED as their Designer managing the social media and digital design aspects of the company’s brand identity.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
I would be lecturing Media and Design topics for a higher education institution. I have a four years experience as a lecturer. I have also taught English in Japan. I thoroughly enjoy sharing knowledge and helping young designers grow.
Can you explain your creative process?
I usually have brainstorming sessions where I make rough sketches to help me to form collate my ideas. I love getting inspiration from all around me. I use a mix of photography, design trends and patterns in nature to get inspiration. Even a napkin at a restaurant or a piece of wrapping paper can often hold a lot of thought and design. I listen to music as well when I’m putting the designs together and of course a good cup of coffee. If I find myself getting too stressed, I will try to have a quick walk as sometimes you can be too close to a design to see any issues. Coming back refreshed often allows you to see the problem or add to your design making it better.
How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)?
Hardware and software is advancing so quickly these days that my productivity gets better with every new update. However, every new update often comes with a new design feature as well which has the potential to take focus away from good design just to use it. Our understanding of user experience concepts has thankfully also come a long way in preventing this behaviour. Overall, technology has freed up my time to focus on the creative aspect of design.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
I often try to get involved in design related meet-ups, seminars, talks. I love visiting museums and travelling as often as I can. This all gives me a chance to see the world, get inspired and change my perspective. I also appreciate online sources where I can view award-winning design projects and design trends. It’s good to see what other designers are doing and how they think as well as it will often spark new ideas in your own work.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
I loved working on the UK Cancer Research Wedding favour project. The client was really fantastic and let me have creative freedom in creating the different religious pin badges. I did an exhaustive amount of research on each of the 10 religious pin badges. This was to ensure each religion was portrayed with care. I felt proud to be part of this Cancer Research project which is so important to the community.
How do you recharge away from the office?
I love to paint portraits and landscapes with acrylics and watercolours. My paintings are for me to unwind and destress while being my own creative director.
What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?
I would say never stop learning, teach yourself something new every week if you can. It doesn’t matter where the inspiration comes from, be it books, video resources but the idea is to get out of your comfort zone. Employers and the design community respect designers who care about what they do and who enjoy their work. Lastly, remember if you are passionate about your work, it will reflect in the projects you do.
What’s your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?
I hope that creative industries continue to grow, influence and evolve the world around us for the better. I’m also a fan of open source software and what it can do for an industry. It doesn’t carry the expensive price tags we often see with bigger companies which would allow new designers to experiment and hone their skills with these tools. I think this would allow new designers to grow their passion by working on their own projects, get inspired to keep learning and ultimately provide more skilled designers in the industry going forward.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
The one thing I would change expectation many employers have of designers today. Designers new and seasoned are all expected to be a one-stop-shop for all their design needs irrespective on the medium. A lot of designers have specialties which requires skill, focus and experience in answering the design related problems presented to them daily. A one-size-fits-all approach is not be practical in terms of producing quality designs.
I have noticed many companies over the last few years have turned to this model for money saving reasons. In my opinion it creates difficulty in gaining relevant experience as a young designer and for more experienced designers it becomes difficult to keep up with the trends in learning every aspect of print, digital, video and web design. Design is not a technology discipline, it is a creative one that not everyone is capable of doing. Therefore, requiring a designer to take on a design role better suited for a small team is like looking for a unicorn in Central London to ride home on. In essence, that designer does not exist and expecting it would not benefit the creative industry in my humble opinion