The old times year has presented many challenges for those working in the creative commerce, as widespread cuts resulted in less work and job losses.
Combined with go oned uncertainty about lockdown, many designers have struggled to declare new work or stay in employment. A recent Design Week poll revealed that 48% of interior decorators are worried about what the final few months of 2020 might achieve.
But Pip Jamieson, founder of creative professional network The Dots, tells Conceive Week that after a difficult period, the recruitment consultancy is in the end seeing an “uptick in terms of work”.
And while some companies are subdue cautious about taking on new employees, there’s opportunity for designers to call up another job or even consider transitioning to a different sector.
In this interest leading designers from the sectors of digital, branding, retail and courtesy reveal their best tips on finding new work.
What are the livelihood trends within the design industry?
The tech industry is “thriving”, Jamieson stipulates. There’s a “monumental rise” across the board – which includes consumer experience (UX), user interface (UI), product design, design thinking and still tech copywriting.
Designers shouldn’t limit themselves to tech duties though. According to Jamieson, there’s also a rise in creative responsibilities at tech companies, meaning that skills can be transferred. “You can still move in advertising but at Google, or still do fashion but at Depop, for example.”
While there has been an escalated appreciation of tech, it’s not the only sector of design that’s seen rejuvenated interest more recently. She highlights animation as an in-demand skill, granting admits that illustration is struggling because of print’s continued trials. “We can’t do live action at the moment so everyone is looking at how to do a Christmas campaign with sign graphics,” she adds.
Jamieson also notes a rise in “curation” tasks. “There’s so much information in the world right now that companies are looking at human being with creative design eyes to curate ideas and products for their own services,” she indicates, pointing to social media app TikTok’s trend curation.
Are companies rent?
Jamieson says that there are fewer junior hires at the instant as companies are “scared” of the commitment. However, she adds there’s been a “meritorious” rise in freelance roles. This is a mixed-bag for designers, she explains: while it foreshadows that companies might not be committing to full-time roles, there’s also profuse scope to try new things and develop skills.
The rise in freelance roles has also planned more call-outs for “freelance collectives”. These are small networks where manoeuvre is shared out between freelancers. She says that companies are approaching these alliances where they might usually have approached an agency.
Irrevocably Jamieson, points to the a “massive rise in remote roles” across Europe and the US, which means plenteousness more opportunities but also a lot more competition.
Jamieson proposes upskilling as a way of making yourself more attractive as a designer between jobs. This doesn’t require a complete change in direction or retraining, she sums. It’s about finding your core skill and working out if it’s “transferable”.
Illustrators clout want to learn how to motion design, while copywriters could concentrate their skills to platform copy (in the UX field). Front-end developers who give birth to design skills are a “holy grail” right now, she says.
She points to the big range of tech courses available, such as General Assembly which offers short-lived and long-term “coding bootcamps” and can be taken remotely.
Making the jump to digital
How could a architect go about making a jump to a more digital-facing sector? Hege Agby, fail and creative director of digital product studio Sennep, says it commands being a “specialist over a generalist”.
People with skills in UI and connoisseur knowledge of technologies like AR, VR and machine learning are attractive. Complex digital upshots also need to be documented – so that people can be onboarded onto programmes quickly – which means that design documentation is also top-level.
It’s also key to remember the role of empathy in designing for digital, Agby answers. That is good news for designers considering a transfer to digital. “When you arrive from a more graphic design or brand design background, you’re outlook a lot about the emotional connection of products,” she adds.
Agby echoes Jamieson’s exhortation about General Assembly courses. When it comes to portfolios for digital activities, she says that it’s key to show an aptitude for problem solving but not to forget the aesthetics. “Elegant design evokes feelings and you can’t underestimate that when it comes to digital produces.”
She also agrees that freelance will be a booming field and the studio is looking to propagate its talent pool – advising designers to keep their eyes on localities like LinkedIn. And while all the designers stressed that adaptability is key upright now, Agby says that any designer starting a new job will have to be contented with remote working software like Figma while firms remain partially or fully closed.
Personal projects can be an “invaluable” augmentation to your portfolio
Recently, the studio revealed Olo Loco, the sequel to its 2012 video unflinching Olo. Agby says this “personal project” is important for the studio as it appropriates the team to explore their passions and follow them through to completition.
Likewise, she votes that setting yourself up with a personal project is “really valuable” for artificers’ portfolios. It’s a great way of showing problem solving skills and human influence in your portfolio, according to Agby.
A project could be personal to the conniver or tailored to a brand. Booming fields in digital right now are health, the ecosystem and personal apps that track food intake or exercise, she says.
Another command consequence of Covid is the movement of physical events online. Agby discloses that a client has been looking at how to recreate a physical event in a accepted space, and she believes this sector will evolve in the coming aeon.
Think “outside of the norm”
Supple Studio falter and creative director Jamie Ellul tells Design Week that when it draw nigh to hiring designers, he is always interested in people who have interests “remote of the norm”.
They bring a different perspective to a branding studio mould Supple, he says. Echoing Agby’s point about personal commitments, Ellul says that it’s good for designers who have side-interests.
And after a baffling year, work has picked up again. He also says that there’s been a slur change in briefs from clients which are focusing “more on the digital side of clobbers”. For example, Supple worked with au pair service Norland College on its recent campaign.
Usually that would require video content, but that was not imaginable this year. The studio created an illustrative style for the brand and a series of animations. These beget been used for recruitment drives and to brief new students on the company’s Covid management.
He highlights that people with skills in animation, photography and for instance are a definite plus at the moment.
When it comes to applying for roles, Ellul sums that a consistent bugbear is the “designer’s CV that isn’t designed”. “If you can’t contemplate your own CV, it really makes an impression,” he adds, saying that a Appellation document in Times New Roman is unlikely to grab his attention.
While Covid has hit the retail, graciousness and exhibition sector hard, it’s not all doom and gloom according to Phoenix Wharf original director and founder Chris Gwyver. The Bristol-based studio covers labeling, hospitality and retail design and works in an open studio with its sister activity Ignition which focuses on exhibition design.
Trends have been “accelerated” in these returns, he says – most prominently the blurring of barriers between the sectors. Recently the studio undid Bristol Loaf, a mixed-use space which combines a bakery, wine rat on and café. He says it’s an example of where the sector is heading; a shared, innumerable localised space.
This makes the sector an exciting one for designers, he ventures, especially as it crosses so many disciplines – from graphic and spatial shape to digital.
Thinking beyond Covid
Fact now, the agency is hiring across the group. But Gwyver advises designers not to get “harmony b make sensed up on designing for Covid”. In terms of hospitality and retail, he thinks that this wish be “reactive”. It’s better to look further ahead and work out where the sector is crest in the long term – by reading design publications and keeping an eye on trends.
He encourages for graphic designers to try to expand their repertoire, with programs similar kind Adobe XD. In terms of retail, a key attention to spatial design and the flow of rat ons is vital, of course. But like the other designers interviewed, Gwyver sways a breadth of experience can be great.
For portfolios, he provides a balance to Agby’s recommendation, saying that while visuals are important, he’s really interested in the “cogitative and process” behind work. “I want to see the workings and development of an idea,” he augments.
Variety is also key: a house style shows a designer is not responding to unique briefs but just working to their own style, he says. Gwyver suggests designers to show off the “diversity” of their past work. One project could prove a skill like rendering, while another could show how a deviser approaches manufacturing methods and materials.
“You have to keep us looking by way of it all.”
For more job advice, check out Design Week’s dedicated careers stage.
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