This article follows the careers success and highs of a Media Professional and provides Media Career insight into the contemporary Brisbane media landscape.
Chris Gordon is a graphic designer and advertising guru. He’s worked as a graphic designer at Shortcuts Software for over 20 years, and runs his own freelance design studio, www.5one5zero.com. He offers us his insight into one of the many career pathways available in the media and communication industry.
How did you start working as a graphic designer?
My brother used to be into computers when I was small, and I used to be fascinated by the graphics. Although it was mainly the games I also loved the graphical interface and typography!
At school I excelled in art more than anything else. Although this was more painting and drawing, we slowly got introducing to scanning things into computers and things went from there. As soon as I left school I got into TAFE at Mt. Gravatt studying visual art and design. After one year I had enough content for a portfolio to submit to the Queensland College of Art for a diploma course they were offering, I applied and got in.
Two years into my diploma I started to waver and got bored with studying. My brother happened to be starting a software company developing software for hair dressers, and asked me to come into the office to do an advertisement for their software in a magazine. It snowballed from there and one day became two and then before I knew it, I was working full time and learning more on the job than I did at university! I ended up dropping out of uni and to this day have never completed my diploma.
I still work for the same company 20 years later and also run my own freelance design studio on the side.
What’s a day-in-the-life of a graphic designer look like for you?
The days start by checking and responding to emails. Jobs will come through from our various offices around the world or from our resellers, and our team discusses the priority of each task.
I love to read my news feeds from other designers and gather resources from all over the web to use in designs – from photography, to fonts and icons for web design. I work full time during the day and most evenings will work on my freelance business. My side business gives me a lot more freedom and has a lot more variety of work to keep my interest levels up.
What’s the best part of being a graphic designer?
When you design something and it goes to print and you get that final product back! It’s the best feeling, or even seeing one of your ads in a magazine! It’s great to help small businesses as well, whether it’s designing a logo, or working on their website.
What advice would you give to people looking to become graphic designers?
You need to love designing things, and you need to do it all the time! Get a website, you need to be able to showcase your work! I get all of my freelance business from my website.
How does the work you do change based on the industry you’re designing for?
Depending on the client there are different brand guidelines that you have to adhere to. I’ll usually start with those if the client has them, otherwise I try and see what other designs have been successful in that industry, and copy that style.
What’s the hardest part of working in an office scenario?
Working with so many people, you can run into a ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ scenario; too many people tend to have their own opinions. People will try and tell you, “this should look like that,” or “change this colour to that” when they have no design experience. It comes down to personal taste and everybody has that!
Having a team to work with and not doing everything myself.
What’s the hardest part of working as a freelancer?
Time away from family, as a new father I’m learning to juggle the full time with the freelance and spending time with the family before I have to sit back in front of the computer. Also when I tend to go on holidays, I always have my laptop just in case work comes up or there is any issues, I find it hard to switch off as I don’t want to lose existing or new clients.
Meeting new clients and having clients come back for repeat business. Having clients that genuinely love what you have done for them is the best feeling ever.
By Tom Clifford