How an illustrator chooses her own battles - #MemberSpotlight

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Sure, design is a business. But stories like the one of Rebecca Hayter show us daily that it can also be about something else.

To put it simply, Rebecca chooses her own battles. She started saying no to jobs with clients involved in animal cruelty or non-sustainable practices, she gains inspiration from the most sustainable design solutions out there, and in general, she's an amazing friend this planet can ever hope to have. We need more designers like Rebecca – someone with the strength and spirit to advocate for this world, and someone with sane principles from top to bottom. Someone who works daily to make the industry more environment-friendly.

For this Member Spotlight, we are learning more about the story of Rebecca and what led her to become such a driven and passionate professional in the creative industry.


How did you get into the industry?

I think that studying fine arts was a big factor into how I got into the industry. Networking is everything and being around various creative people forces you to interact. I also interned at Agencies for experience and networking.

Where are you based now and who do you work for?

Port Elizabeth, South Africa. I work for a small agency called Goodbye Boring.

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

I would be in Architecture or something to do with animals.


Can you explain your creative process?

I start with some time to think, whether its 5 minutes to and hour or so. Then I write, doodle or sketch, pen to paper, my thoughts. After this, I compile some visuals on the computer and design some drafts. After this, I show other creatives and discuss the piece further, changes and edits usually arise from this discussion. Then I finish off the piece and let it go. 


How would you describe your style?

I have many styles in different areas. I think if I had to describe my style in my overall work – it’s more of a style in concept – I create things that usually have an underlying sense of humour and an aesthetic appeal. With my illustration, I tend to lean towards naturally rough line work, detailed scenes and colour blocking. My photography style is naturally-lit scenes of interesting architecture in moving cities, or aesthetically romantic moments in the wild ocean. 


Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

To be honest, anyone who is working with design-thinking to design sustainable solutions for anything. Especially those who aren’t well known or extremely successful, and are working from the good of their hearts. There’s a small company in Cape Town, Big Circle Studios, who are designing and experimenting with new sustainable solutions for the future – they inspire me. 


How has technology affected the way you work?

I went from working with almost no technology when studying fine arts, to working with almost only technology thereafter. It’s allowed me to find ways of making money quickly as well as network out of South Africa. I have, however, realised in the last year that I have to find time and ways to create things with my hands again. You can get caught up in technology so easily and when you create with your hands amongst your tech-driven, fast-paced day, it’s like taking a walk in nature or meditating.


What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

I found that I went through a big wave of motivation in the beginning of 2020. I think it was due to the big changes that came with the pandemic. I felt like I had to find new ways to hustle and make sure that I coped financially during the unforeseen times ahead. When it came to the end of 2020, I found that I had over-worked, although I am so grateful for being lucky enough to have grown during the pandemic. I lost a lot of motivation. In the new year, a big promise to myself was to slow down and not become so obsessed with chasing money and rather take it as it comes. I am slowly finding motivation again in working with my hands and creating more work from and for myself, instead of commissions.

What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

I’m proud of myself for finding ways, and being lucky enough, to say no to jobs that are directly or indirectly involved with animal cruelty. I am proud of myself for sticking to my moral values in an industry that is so competitive, money and status-driven. I resigned from the first agency I worked for, because of this, I took risks, and I lost out on well-paid jobs – but it was so worth it in the end and new opportunities always arose thereafter.


How do you recharge away from the office?

Yoga is a big recharge for myself. I try to go every day whether before or after work. It’s a way to exercise and meditate at the same time. Walking my dog. Even taking a 10 minute walk at lunch is a vital thing to do in order to recharge. Seeing friends and family. Cooking. 

What is one tip that you would give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?

Networking is everything. Talk to people in the industry. Email one person/agency/company every morning. You never know who you will connect or build a relationship with. 


What’s your one big hope for the future of the industry?

I hope that the advertising and design world become more open to hiring internationally. I think it’s grown in this direction immensely when it came to Covid-19 and working from home. But there’s still a way to go, and trust needs to build.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would that be?

I wish that the industry was more honest and sustainably driven. I don’t like the idea of fooling the customer. The trend of anti-advertising is and has been a great way to break this dishonesty. 

Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

I recommend reading The Choice by Edith Eger, and Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl – they will bring you back to earth and give you reason to enjoy the present moment – I try to apply their teachings to my working and personal life. 


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