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Struggling in first design role - help and advice requested!

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by johnnyfox, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. johnnyfox

    johnnyfox New Member

    Hi everyone,

    I'm currently employed as the in-house graphic designer for a drinks company. It's my full time graphic design role since graduating in 2009 and i've been there for 6 months. In a nutshell, I feel like i'm in way above my head, and am looking for some general advice on dealing with work load and increasing my productivity. I'd also appreciate hearing from any of you who are in, or have been in, a similar position - and how you dealt with it.

    The course I took at uni was primarily illustration and printmaking based, though I did a reasonable amount of graphic design on the side. When I graduated I decided i wanted to find a full time creative role instead of freelancing. I tried to fill the gaps in my knowledge of the design process, though I have found it an uphill struggle since starting my job. I recently had a review with my boss, where I was informed that I wasn't as efficient nor as quick to 'nail' projects as the previous designers he has had. How do I overcome these issues and be a better designer? I'm trying not to let my recent feedback knock my confidence but it is quite difficult to distance myself from it.

    Anyway, rant over. Any and all advice appreciated!

    Thanks in advance,

  2. Katedesign

    Katedesign Well-Known Member

    Wow! Difficult to give advice without knowing what kind of things you are doing....

    Are the briefs as clear as they could/should be? Does the boss/client have fixed ideas of what he wants? If you aren't nailing designs as quickly as the previous designers it could be that whoever is briefing you has got a bit lazy and is not being as thorough as they should be. If they had a designer who had worked there for sometime that could happen. If you don't think the brief is clear ask them to explain the who, what, why.....

    From a productivity point of view - it is good practice to clear the smaller jobs.Also doing the simple jobs means that your brain can be thinking/designing the more creative ones before you get to them. Plan your jobs first - if you are doing a 8 or 16pp booklet use style sheets and master pages. Think about it before you start. Do you need left hand pages and right hand pages. . .what fonts will you use. And remember the maxim KISS (Keep It Simple,,,,)

    Does the company have a corporate image design guide - which will give you a good idea of how/what you can do. For example Innocent Drinks wouldn't have over-complicated designs with full colour photos. . . most companies have a style that they tend to stick to.

    Hope this helps a bit - your boss obviously thought you could do the job and he didn't get rid of you inside the usual 3 month trial period - so have some faith and keep trying!!

    Good luck.
  3. sarah_a

    sarah_a Member

    Hi J,

    I know how you feel. I was taken from my university degree and then put straight in to manage a advertising department within a company. This is way over what I would / could do. I struggled for months and at most point I was / felt in way over my head.

    Sometime I still do feel in way over my head - however I did do graphics at university so I do have that. To help myself be a 'better designer' in any spare time I did manage to get I bought computer arts or went to their website and used there tutorials and ideas to help myself get a better understand of some of the design tools etc - I looked over old briefs I was given in uni and came on here looking at posts etc.

    I guess there isn't a lot other people can do for you other than just to let you know everything will get better and you will get better and find it that little easier.

    I also found it easier to take the dark days when I had someone close to talk too. Even if they didn't understand its just nice to off load a little.

    I hope this helps you as I know how this can really make a person feel like crap some days. If you want/need someone to chat to etc just drop me a PM :icon_biggrin:

    all the best

  4. djb

    djb Member

    Only use the internet at lunchtime and and just turn your email client on every couple of hours. You’d be amazed how much time you waste on these things.

    Right, must check Facebook...
  5. MonikaCieplinska

    MonikaCieplinska New Member

    Hi J,

    I agree with all the above.

    I started 5 years ago and without any knowledge on how to use Photoshop, Illustrator etc. I was learning all the software in my first job, which was designing products and packaging for a coffee company. I learned quickly because it was interesting to me and I loved every minute of it. If I wasn't sure on how to do something I was asking people to help, to explain and I didn't stop until achieved good results.

    What I found is very important to have a good communication with your boss/manager and to understand what they want from you. What I suggest is to ask questions if you are unsure of anything. If you have clear picture of what is expected from you, it will be easier to put this on paper.

    If you are stuck with the design - look for inspirations on the internet, collect interesting images, brochures, visit exhibitions, invest some time to read tutorials, do anything to provoke your creativity .

    Get organised by collecting all the design components and then start on layout, changing colours etc
    If you like what you are doing - don’t give up! Good Luck!
  6. johnnyfox

    johnnyfox New Member

    Hi everyone,

    First of all, thank-you very much for taking the time to post replies. There's been some really good advice and it's always good to be reassured that i'm not the first person to have this problem.

    To clarify, I spend most of my time working on packaging design and custom drinks labelling. I've also ended up doing a lot of web design, as well as building the odd small site - something that I had no experience of at all before starting. I'm also filling in for the company marketer who is away, so i'm having to spend a lot of my time figuring out how to continue the projects she'd been working on. Often I feel like i'm doing 3 persons-worth of work, and that it really slows me down. Unfortunately, my boss disagrees.

    Reading the comments I think that communication with the boss is definitely an issue - he is a very busy man and does not often have much time to discuss design, he just expects it to get done quickly. However, this is often difficult as his briefs range from non-existent to a couple of sentences. This often means that I don't get to find out what he wants until I show him something that he doesn't want. He also tends to make requests at random, not realising the amount of time they take to fulfill.

    I really appreciated the advice about clearing smaller jobs first, planning in advance, etc. I think that I often get carried away on certain projects at the expense of others so this would help me to remain more organised. Also, staying offline would be good too - I try to do this as often as possible.

    Overall i'm willing to work as hard as I need to, because I desperately want to succeed as a designer and build a portfolio that I can be proud of. It's just hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel much of the time!
  7. Katedesign

    Katedesign Well-Known Member

    You do seem to be 'dumped' on. Doing a marketing job is not an easy one to be dropped into - or web design without some knowledge! I know how easy it is to get carried away on the jobs that are more interesting....its a question of time management. Ask if the job is urgent, important or both. Get the urgent (done for a deadline) done and dusted, the urgent and important sorted as efficiently as you can and allow more time for the important one!

    You can always post stuff on here for feedback if you're not sure if you've fulfilled the brief or for a fresh eye to it.

    Good luck!

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