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The adaptability, style and confidence of Emily Woods | #MemberSpotlight

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Next time we need inspiration for a story about following one's heart, we know that we can rely on Emily Woods for a good tale.

Emily was studying psychology at university when she decided to do an art subject one semester. Since then, her love for anything creative boomed. Emily hasn't looked back once and instead developed her style as incredibly flexible, adaptable and measured – perhaps a reflection of a heightened sense of empathy which originally drove her interest in psychology.

We'll let Emily's delicate yet confident style speak for herself. In this Member Spotlight, we are learning more about Emily Woods, Owner of Studio Ems, and what led her to establish her own freelance business.

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How did you get into the industry?

I was studying psychology at University but chose to do an art subject one semester just for fun. I then spent all my time working on the graphics assignments and not on my psychology papers! I swapped majors and haven’t regretted it.

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

I’ve worked in Australia and the UK. I’m currently back in Brisbane and freelancing with clients here and back in the UK through my own business, Studio Ems. 

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

Probably psychology, see above! I find people and their behaviours interesting, which is why I love branding. 

Can you explain your creative process?

I start with some strategy work. It depends how large the project and client are, but I always do research on the competitor landscape, the brand personality and brand vision. This flows into a moodboard workshop with the client and then a few brand options where we discuss logos, patterns, colour palette and all the assets that can help bring their brand vision to life. 

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How would you describe your style?

I try not to have one single style and let the requirements of each brand shine through. Reflecting on my work though, it’s quite a minimal style with a heavy focus on patterns and monograms. 

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

Heroes in the industry and constant inspiration comes from: Jessica Walsh, Seb Lester, Johanna Roca. 

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If you had to pick one ideal client/employer, who would that be and why?

I don’t think I can do this! I’ve never worked in tourism before though and would love to brand a location. I think that would be really fun. Interviewing the people that live in a place and working out what makes a location would be different to my usual small business and property branding and I’ve always thought it would be really interesting work.  

How has technology affected the way you work?

I work globally from my little Queenslander home in Australia. I couldn’t do this without video chats, even before the covid zoom blow up. I also spend a small fortune with Apple and Adobe, like all designers.

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What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

I’ve been really lucky to work with lots of different clients in a range of different fields. Meeting new people from fashion, property and different agencies has been my inspiration over the years.  

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

The fact that I moved to London with no job, no notable big brands on my CV and ended up designing campaigns and brands for the likes of ASOS and UGG still blows my mind. I’ve been very lucky.

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How do you recharge away from the office?

Well I have a baby now and playing with her is what I do with my time off these days! She’s been my toughest but cutest boss yet. I used to paint, as it was a creative outlet without a client, and go to museums back when we could do such things.  

What is one tip for other aspiring creatives looking for work?

Find the part of design you like, be it branding, packaging, UX etc and research which agencies and brands do it really well. Then do what you can to work there. I learnt so much from Senior Designers and Creative Directors when I moved to London and worked in lots of different places. It’s a real gift to work under good people who want to watch your talents grow. 

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What is the one thing that you would change about the industry?

I’d change the perception that designers have to work 24/7 to be productive and work at an agency. The best places I’ve worked have collaborative cultures and finish at a reasonable time. We have to go home and reset to continue coming up with creative solutions the next day. 

Any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

Well obviously, Creativepool haha, but I do use Pinterest like a soon to be bride to collect all of my sporadic inspiration into neatly ordered boards. I also like Design Taxi.

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