I am a Graphic Design Honours student from the University of Johannesburg. As a requirement, I had to find a design company to do an internship at and discuss a practical solution to a problem found within my thesis.
I had arranged a meeting with Angela on a Tuesday which was inconveniently windy and cold, I took this as a bad omen. I walked into the heated café and sat down nervously. I had never met Angela and the only reference I could rely on was an illustration from the company’s website. I phoned Angela to let her know I was waiting. I heard a “Hello” through the receiver and within the café and turned to look at the woman I had passed on my way in.
We greeted and she had let me know that she would attend to me soon.
As I sat down again and cringed at my awkward first impression I was greeted by a bubbly, blue haired woman and a giant in black who I recognized as Tash and Michael. I also met Milo, a shy and sparkly eyed student and employee of Angela’s.
We all sat down gave introductions and got down to brainstorming which involved research and throwing ideas around based on personal and cultural experiences.
The discussion lasted 2 hours where Angela and her team brainstormed, referred to books, websites and cheeky jokes that made sure I had covered all avenues of my practical project, link to my thesis, and incorporate aspects that would please both lecturers who I consult with. After the intensive brainstorm that left my thinking organ unable to think anymore, Angela kindly offered her help whenever I needed it.
Angela has an immense knowledge of the advertising industry and her work ethic is one to admire. Her years of work experience have taught her lessons which hasn’t made her arrogant but rather intuitive and creative guru willing and wanting to spread her knowledge to her team and other creatives.
I felt there was more to learn from Angela than just a two hours’ worth of discussion. I asked if I could intern purely for the experience of working with Angela and her team.
My first day of interning at Design Simplified was intense, the minute I walked in I was sat down with Angela and Tash, who were taking on a brief that requested assistance on the client’s social media improvement. I thought the task was easy, I frequented social media and knew all there is to know but I had a few lessons to learn:
- Research is essential, it’s the first thing that one must do before designing. Sometimes even if one is familiar or thinks they know all about something, there is always something to learn.
- One resource is not creditable enough, one must look at various sites and sources to identify the truthful facts from the false ones.
- Clients are lazy some of the time and think they know what they need. The creative must put in the effort and research the company and or client to understand what they are asking for and even though they think they know what they need.
My second and third day at Design Simplified was a little easier. The client was a wine making company that requested a new packaging design. I had done a few packaging projects within my years of studying and thought I knew what I was doing this time round. But I didn’t. and so, my lesson learning journey began again:
- Even though the company asked for a label design, Pinterest is not going to give you all the answers and design is not the first thing to jump into. Research first, and not just the company but the product. The history, the process making, the ingredients and all the things that can go right or wrong. There are so many things to consider, understand and research way before designing something.
- Writing up a report that contains all the information one has researched is important for the designer and the client so there is communication of what the designer understands and what the client needs to understand.
- Even though everyone is given the same research task, we might have similar information but never the same. Everyone thinks and understands things differently and we all have something to learn from each other.
I have many things to still learn and working for Angela and with the team has taught me things I wish I had known when doing previous projects. I learnt that a change in my environment in which I work is necessary once in a while, researching is essential to know what I’m doing and talking about, and trying to communicate, storytelling is the way in which humans communicate and even though visuals are important the written content must be convincing. I have a new-found love for researching and learning new things and I hope I can apply what I have learnt and am learning into my research and future projects.