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Tips and tricks from female industry creatives

Get inspired by this advice for young creatives from 9 female creatives we admire.

To celebrate International Women's day, we have been sharing a Q&A series with female creatives in various disciplines from copywriting, strategy, UX/UI, motion, illustration, art direction and more, alongside a snapshot of their work for creative inspiration.
 
For any young creatives looking to kick-start a creative career, read on for tips and tricks from those in the know. We can’t include every skill, discipline and job title, but if you are just starting out then read on for killer advice from some brilliant women.
Name one thing you love about your discipline?
 
The ability to create new things every day and use my imagination so much (that's two!) Sometimes I sit and think about my job and how much of it doesn't feel real, the fact that we get paid to create and the trust poeple have in our vision.  
 
Name one thing you didn’t know about your job/discipline before you did it as a full-time job?
 
The complexity of different disciplines within design and the difference between them, for instance, I thought a designer was all-encompassing, but I soon understood the difference between an art director, a designer, a typesetter an artworkerer a typographer, etc. It is so important to understand and appreciate each of these things as individual disciplines and give them the credit they are due. 
 
Name something you wish you knew before entering the creative industry that you know now?
 
The difference between design studios and agencies and the different levels of creativity that come with each. Agencies tend to work on really large scale projects that are very corporate, design studios tend to take on smaller projects that allow for a lot more creativity due to the face that the clients they work with don't always have such an established and structured brand that is bound by guidelines. 
 
Give one bit of advice for someone wanting to get into a similar role?
 
Trust your intuition. Work hard and keep pushing for what you believe in. 
Yolanta boti
Name one thing you love about your role/discipline?
 
I love that I get to be creative every day, it’s a privilege to think of an idea and see it come to life. I still get goosebumps. 
 
Name one thing you didn’t know about your job/discipline before you did it as a full-time job?
 
I wasn’t exposed to my job/industry until 4 years ago, which happened by accident. I wish I’d known earlier that my love for writing and art was a valued skill and that I could have a thriving career as a creative. That was big aha moment for me. I dived right in and learnt everything from scratch and I’m still learning.

Name something you wish you knew before entering the creative industry that you know now? 
 
Take care of your mental, spiritual and physical health, being a creative engine is sometimes tough and no great work will be done if you aren’t at your best.

Give one bit of advice for someone wanting to get into a similar role?
 
Stay curious, make stuff, network and don’t forget to have fun!
 
Ellen Ling
Name one thing you love about your discipline?

With only 26 letters, you still never know what’s going to be on that page when you’re done with it. 

Name one thing you didn’t know about your job/discipline before you did it as a full-time job?
 
The solidarity between writers is beautiful, don’t cover your homework because it’s a powerful community to be part of.
 
Name something you wish you knew before entering the creative industry that you know now?
 
No matter how talented you are at what you do, you’ll never really know what you’re doing. Everyone is making it up as they go along, and that’s a good thing. Go with it. 
 
Give one bit of advice for someone wanting to get into a similar role?
 
Love words and write them, loads. Edit everything you write to within an inch of its life until you understand why each word deserves its place.  
 
Pamm Hong
Name one thing you love about your role/discipline?
 
I'm Pamm Hong, a creative strategist at DesignStudio by day, visual artist and DJ by night.
The one thing I love about my multidisciplinary practice is having the privilege to dive deep into a wide variety of industries, companies, cultures and societies, to learn everything I can about them. With DS, I get to meet people from all walks of life and study how different businesses grow and develop. On my own, I question, learn and try different ways to express myself whether it be through art or music.
 
Name one thing you didn’t know about your job/discipline before you did it as a full-time job?
 
I've been a designer for almost 13 years, so I wasn't sure if I would be able to use those skills again when I decided to shift my approach to something more research-driven. I quickly learned that being a generalist gave me such a boost to think laterally and therefore, identify and translate insights that are uniquely my own. The extent of how much I can positively impact people and businesses is one of the biggest surprises I've had to date that is both satisfying and also completely inspiring.
 
Name something you wish you knew before entering the creative industry that you know now?
 
I wish I knew that it's completely ok to meander and try new things throughout your creative career. Taking the time to hone a diverse skillset that might not seem 100% related, and channelling what you do with those curiosities is an incredibly powerful position to be in.
 
Give one bit of advice for someone wanting to get into a similar role?

Find your own voice in your own distinct way, everything else will work itself into a methodology that's unique to noone else but you.
Erin Aniker
Describe your role, and name one thing you love about your role/discipline?
 
I’m an illustrator, I create drawings and designs for editorial, publishing, product and advertising. I love using image and design to create visuals + designs that people can engage, relate and connect with in their daily lives, whether that’s a poster or a design for a drink, magazine or book illustration, a sticker or a t-shirt illustration etc. I love how varied my work is, I’m rarely working on the same thing or illustrating + designing something for the same medium even! I try and use my work to create images and work that is joyful, playful and fun with a focus on celebrating people and our differences and creating a feeling of community.
 
Name one thing you didn’t know about your job/discipline before you did it as a full-time job?
 
You have to juggle lots of different roles to make a living as an illustrator. You have to be your own agent, marketing manager, accountant, social media manager, workshop facilitator, teacher and admin assistant. Sometimes it feels like the thing you’re setting out to do – in my case, illustration – can get left behind. The business side of things is important but you need to be careful not to get lost in it!
 
Name something you wish you knew before entering the creative industry that you know now?
 
This can be applied to a lot of areas across life but I’ve really found it useful to trust yourself, your intuition and that gut feeling (if a job or something or someone doesn’t feel right, don’t do it, don’t work with them), to also know your worth (don’t listen to naysayers or unsupportive people + also financially, charge double or triple what you think you should be getting for this, do not undervalue yourself, your artwork and your worth) and most importantly, keep the doors that open for you open for others. Don’t forget the journey it took you to get to where you’re at now and always think
about how you can help others to work towards achieving their potential as an illustrator and/or creative.
 
Give one bit of advice for someone wanting to get into a similar role?
 
Be vulnerable and put your work online + out there. Day jobs are normal. Research the industry. Create or join a creative community. Have a designated work space. Contact people you’d like to work with. Make time for personal projects. Learn how to say no. Don’t burn out. Keep the doors that open for you open for others.
Shannie mears
Describe your role, and name one thing you love about your role/discipline?
 
I'm the head of talent at The Elephant Room - a creative agency I also co-founded after i was an intern for 10 months with the former CEO. The best thing about my role is shaping it to what the agency is becoming and being able to be flexible across different sides, like creative and talent.
 
Name one thing you didn’t know about your job/discipline before you did it as a full-time job?

I didn't know that i could be so many things at once, i teach dance, i find talent, i connect talent i put on my own events. That in itself was a new way of working for me. 
 
Name something you wish you knew before entering the creative industry that you know now?
 
I wish i knew that everything is transferable it took me a while to understand what i was good at and how to use that across the industry simple things like talking to people. I just didn't know that soft skills played such a big part in my development. 
 
Give one bit of advice for someone wanting to get into a similar role?
 
There's no one way to do anything - what might work for me might not work for you. But one thing i think is key, is building relationships and getting to know everybody! It's so important that you know who exist in your network and as you develop see how you can amplify that and those around you.
Em Cole
Describe your role, and name one thing you love about your role/discipline?
 
I'm an artist and motion director who uses different methods of image making to tell short visual stories. 
It's so great that I get to turn scribbly sketches and ideas from my head into real life visuals as an actual job. To have talented and hardworking teams of people who want to make them with me too is something I'll never not be excited by and grateful for.
 
Name one thing you didn’t know about your job/discipline before you did it as a full-time job?

That loads of people don't know what they're doing and even very successful people have imposter syndrome. 
 
Name something you wish you knew before entering the creative industry that you know now?

That you absolutely don't need to pressure yourself to work with certain people or aesthetics just because they're seen as successful, good or trendy. It's important to be true to yourself and have a good rapport with the people you have in your team. A supportive environment helps everyone to flourish which makes for better work.
 
Give one bit of advice for someone wanting to get into a similar role?
 
Do it yourself. If you want to work with images or film, try doing the set design, styling, modelling, or retouching with your own hands. Even if what you make feels embarrassingly naff it will give you an understanding of how a project is put together and inform your future work and abilities. With knowledge comes confidence. 
Rinat Ashkenazi
Name one thing you love about your discipline?
 
Ever-changing! New technologies come with new opportunities for being creative.
 
Name one thing you didn’t know about your job/discipline before you did it as a full-time job?

That personal work gets way more love than branded briefs. I started building my portfolio by experimenting and creative self-initiated projects that got noticed but I was sure I couldn't get anywhere without familiar brands in my reel. As time passed I realised that clients and agencies are always in a look for something new and different, they don't care much for what X agency did for Y brand... People get excited about things they haven't seen before and being free with experimentation and your own creativity gets you places!
 
Name something you wish you knew before entering the creative industry that you know now?
 
Embrace technology, it's your friend! When I started I wasn't too keen to learn tools but as I moved along in the industry I realised with new tools come new opportunities and I've been inspired by it so many times. Most of the times it leads me to create personal projects that eventually lead to more work of that nature.
 
Give one bit of advice for someone wanting to get into a similar role?

Be open-minded - There is no one solution to a problem. If you are open to other people's ideas and questions you'll find the most creative ways to respond to a brief/ question/ problem.
Mabintou Kolley
Name one thing you love about your discipline?
 
I love the creative freedom it allows me. You find yourself making such important design decisions that impact brands, businesses and consumers/people daily so the freedom you are permitted to shape a person’s experience is really amazing. 
 
Name one thing you didn’t know about your job/discipline before you did it as a full-time job? 
 
The extent of the lack of diversity, being black and female I feel it quite a bit. It's very common within the industry and I was aware of this but it's rather puzzling because of how impactful and how diverse the users of everything we design are. I work as a designer for a range of ecommerce brands specifically in an agency and consumers don't fit a particular box. Everybody uses the products I create therefore there should be a similar level of diversity to reflect this in my opinion but I get it. I've recently launched Clamp Digital Agency, comprised of myself and 4 other black women - 3 designers and 2 developers. As time goes on we plan to hire a very diverse team and be the change we want to see. We want to create ground-breaking work and positive, healthy work culture.
 
Name something you wish you knew before entering the creative industry that you know now?
 
It's going to take a while before you're really good at what you do. You will make mistakes, you will wear many hats, you will slip up and you will have a difficult client, or projects. That's ok, it's just all about managing these moments and having enough resilience to stick it out. The work can get intense but you are more than capable, just be resilient. 
 
Give one bit of advice for someone wanting to get into a similar role?
 
Immerse yourself in all things UX/UI. Read books, watch videos, follow the right social media pages but most importantly design. You learn through experience and actually creating work is the only thing that will improve your skills and your eye for detail. Create projects, improve work that already exists that could be done better, document your process and publish it on platforms like Medium, share your work on platforms like Behance and Dribbble! The beauty of being a designer in this day and age is how much more visible we can be if we put ourselves out there. This has definitely fast tracked and aided my career, especially as a young black woman. 
 
 

Why not check out our 'Walk the walk' series with Jack young and Alice Isaac for more creative career advice for entering the industry. And to tackle real briefs set by real clients and get your work seen by top industry creatives, why not check out New Blood Awards.

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