A Career That’s Jellyfish Friendly

For the past twelve years I’ve run my own solo design studio, jellyfish design. My main focus is print and web design.  I operate it out of a home-based studio, so I’m one of those lucky individuals who can occasionally be caught working in my pyjamas.

I became aware of it as a career choice when I was in high-school.  My high-school offered a “commercial art” program that took place all day, every day, for two full semesters. It was a great introduction to the world of art and design and from that I was inspired to pursue the MacEwan Design Studies program.

My experience at MacEwan was great. For me it was a time of growth, maturity and expanding horizons. Through instructors, classmates, and environment I was exposed to so many opportunities to learn and grow creatively. Being surrounded by creative people from a whole range of disciplines was really exciting and stimulating. I went into it as someone with a love of art and a few natural abilities and came out of it a far more knowledgeable young designer.

Design has been really good to me. As a career it has allowed me to do something I love, make a decent living, and enjoy a lot of personal freedom.  I plan to enjoy all that for as long as I can.

For me, good or effective design is achieved when a given message is delivered, memorably, to its target audience.  There are some basic principles of design that should ideally be applied such as good typography, good use of positive/negative space, good overall composition – but ultimately, if it doesn’t speak to its target audience then it’s missed the mark. We don’t all have to personally like something for it to qualify as good design.

I think that a clean and minimal aesthetic is strong right now. Innovative use of typography is always in style but I notice a lot more white space, lighter font faces and great use of colour. And more campy humour.

I think most of us can rattle off a list of well-know designers that we admire and are inspired by. The calibre of their work generally sets a bar that we all aspire to. But for day-to-day inspiration I’d say, for me, that comes more from my immediate surroundings. I’m inspired by the work of my peers, a great gallery exhibit, architecture, shapes and colours and contrasts I see in everyday objects – the list is constantly growing. Inspiration can come from a source as deliberate as a really well-designed magazine spread to something as random as the play of light and shadow in a room.

What advice to a prospective student considering a career in design? Embrace it. Cultivate the right attitude and it will be an enjoyable and rewarding career. Don’t be discouraged if it’s not your imagined “dream job” straight out of the gate. Expect to pay your dues and work your way up to that dream job.

We’ve all heard this before because it’s TRUE:  do your best no matter how small the project or the client. Doing more with less will make you a better problem solver, a better designer and quite possibly a better human being.

Andrée-Ann Thivierge is an Edmonton-based designed in print and web. www.jellyfishdesign.com

(Photo courtesy of BlueFish Studios)

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