Harriet Whittaker, Graphic Design & Illustration

I'm Harriet, and I'm a freelance graphic designer and illustrator

Describe your job

My day’s are very strange at the moment - I advise not changing careers before a world pandemic. However an “average” day as a graphic designer consists of;

1. Receiving your brief from the client ie, "please can you design me a logo that will stand out against our competitors?"

2. Then there is the research and development phase, we must truly understand the client’s needs as well as the intended demographic and who the competitors are.

3. I create mood boards consisting of other designs, colours, themes that I want to influence my work.

4. I thumbnail/sketch ideas until I have three routes I wish to develop further.

5. I then take them on to the computer to 'mock up' (make more polished).

6. Then I work with the client on these concepts, and after some back and forth feedback, I deliver their final design

(Of course this wouldn’t all happen in one day but I wanted to give an insight into the process I would follow.)

What are the most important skills you need to do your job?

There are practical skills you need to be a graphic designer, such as being creative, having imagination, IT skills (as well as adobe creative suite, video and photo editing, sketch etc), attention to detail.

But you also need good verbal communication, an understanding of popular trends, enjoy problem solving, project management skills when you are working directly with clients. When you're freelance, you're a one-woman band so have to be able to do everything.

I left school and...

I studied performing arts at a ballet school for 3 years. After graduating I worked professionally as a dancer for 3 years. But my lack of self confidence and the negativity of the industry eventually led to me quitting. I felt lost without a passion.

I worked in production for a further 4 years but lacked fulfilment. That’s when I decided to retrain as a designer, combining my creativity with my experience in production has been very rewarding.

You see it’s never too late to learn or change path!

I’m most proud of...

Before I started my career, I wish I knew…

When I was at school, career advise consisted of “you’re artistic; you should be an art teacher, or “you are sporty; you should be a PE teacher”. This was so unhelpful to me.

I hope career guidance is a lot better these days and if not please please do as much research as possible.

I wish I’d known the full breadth of possibilities and careers out there to undertake. Illustrators, game designers, animators, retouchers, the list is endless.

A mistake I made which you can avoid repeating is...

I have really struggled with self belief and at times have suffered from imposter syndrome. It doesn’t matter how much positive reinforcement others can give you. Your own negative thoughts will hold you back. Before you can succeed in anything you have to address these negative thoughts, I put this off for a long time.

Through support, mindfulness and surrounding myself with positive people I have finally started to believe in myself. My advice is don’t let your inner voice be your own worst enemy.

So, what’s next?

As I’m still a junior designer I like to continue to learn and develop my design skills while working for some great companies and clients. Eventually though I’d like to start my own business and perhaps teach within the community.

Here's my:

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