Best Advice for Starting a Career in Design

Over the last few years I’ve received countless snippets of advice, read hundreds of blog posts, spoken to many people on the subject of starting a career. Many say placements are a good stepping stone to help build a portfolio, others have said build a portfolio even if you make it all up. Someone recently told me just to practice my craft and to practice it working to tight deadlines. Others have said to ‘find a specialism, a niche, something to distinguish yourself from the crowd’.One of my favourites was ‘get your name out there’. This conjured up ideas of displaying my name everywhere I could find a blank ‘canvas’. Unfortunately, several county and city councils seemed to disagree with this valuable nugget of advice and I had to remove them.

Then I came across a ‘vlog’ post by Andy Rutledge. I am one of those people he talks about who have emailed him regarding this very subject. While the email I received back contained some of the advice I’ve already mentioned, I feel this video sums things up better than anything I’ve heard before.

Behind the completely irrelevant story about hairy haggis, pissed Londoners and dodgy Scottish accents I found three key points, INSPIRATION, EXPERIENCE and FAILURE. In my opinion, all are completely necessary to any designer, failure particularly. Experience will only come from failure, as no-one really directly learns anything from success, do they? Nor does anyone succeed before they fail. Failure can only come from inspiration, where-ever it comes from and trying to design from it.

In conclusion then, no single, specific piece of advice is relevant to everyone, however, three things are key to designers; inspiration, experience and failure, regardless of where they come from.