Students of the Bachelor of Design (Communication Design) and the Bachelor of Design (Illustration and Animation) were invited to attend an interdisciplinary seminar on Forging your design career with three high-profile and diverse design firms.
The cohort heard from Abra Remphrey and Cathy Bell of Detour Design, followed by Scott Carslake of Voice Design, and finally Matt Remphrey of Parallax Design, all of whom are alumni of the Bachelor of Design at the University of South Australia.
The speakers covered a range of topics including the intricacies and realities of working as a freelancer or opening a small business, the challenges they faced along the way, and invaluable advice on forging a rewarding and successful career in the design industry.
The seminar was a cross-disciplinary event organised by Adjunct Professor Rita Siow, Dr Doreen Donovan, and David Blaicklock. A big thank you to the studios and designers who volunteered their time to speak to our graduates.
"Our aspirations were always to establish a studio. We were ill-prepared in how the day-to-day operations of a studio would work - tax, finance, how to run the books. The first year was a massive learning curve for us, and we are still learning.
"In terms of running a business, it depends on your aspirations ... but it's vital to understand your rights and your client's rights.
"We were passionate about doing design. In the early days there wasn't much money. Working part time as well as working on design ... at the end of the day we did what we had to do."
"... and Detour's 27-year success as a studio partnership has always been about the long term relationships we've built with our clients and our team."
In discussion about graduate career development, Scott advised students to think about "the journey ... and the bumps along the way. It's about taking design thinking and applying it to a business.
"As designers, our eyes are trained and our minds are trained, through study, to see disruption, negative space, and harmony. Before you study design you don't see it. Spaces will start to take your attention. Be aware of the things that happen around you - design is everywhere. It's a beautiful thing."
"It's important to have courage - to try the unexpected, to take a risk, experiment with new ideas and techiques, do self-initiated projects, refresh ourselves as designers."
Scott related this to the story behind their Type it Write publication, a leap of faith into something they had never done before and which has yielded continual demand and successful reprints to this day.
Matt started his career at Ian Kidd Design after finishing a Bachelor of Design degree, rising to the role of creative manager.
"It was a fantastic place to work and a great learning ground, but after eight years I was starting to get itchy feet and wondered what was next.
"On a flight home from New York I realised that the work I was doing in Australia was better, the lifestyle was better, and I would still be showing up to work for someone else, so I decided to start my own business," he said.
Speaking to the difficulty of striking a work-life balance, Matt advised students to take care:
"One of the most important things [in working for myself] was maintaining a distinction between going to work and being at home."
Parallax enjoys a reputation as one of Australia's most creative brand and communications design consultancies.