I always was a “visual” person. Crafting little wool deers and kitchen-sponge flowers, drawing instead of listening a teacher in the class, spending sleepless nights with my first super shitty Genius drawing tablet… But all of the childhood dreams were just a dreams. Many years later I’ll meet my best friend, whose whole family works as art teachers, sculptors and illustrators. But not everyone could be that lucky. In my family there was one simple rule:
“Go and find the real profession.”
I grew up in Russia. This country has very special history and mentality, influenced by tons of stereotypes. This is just a way to survive so I can’t blame anyone for such a ridiculous thought carefully hammered into my head.
“All artists are poor”
“No one needs an artworks”
“How your art will help you alone on the desert island?”
So I always lived realising that my love to draw and create visual systems is just a way for having fun and nothing more. I spread my skills and passions for different areas: photo shooting and retouching, digital art, simple animation, film editing, traditional art, jewelry crafting. And one day my friend told me about the web design. Back to that days it wasn’t such respectable and popular profession like now, in 2018. There was no millions of young people dreaming about making a lot of money sitting in cozy open-spaces with the other young professionals. So at first it was just some new curious thing to learn. But I became passionate really fast — it was so interesting to draw that ugly buttons with bevel and emboss effects! And so I started working hard. Not to make money, but just because I liked what I’m doing.
I was noticing something I could improve every day: logo of my fencing club, flyers for the poetry events I used to visit, signboard of the doner cafe next door, website which I was leading as a content-manager. I was doing tons of non-payed works for friends or clients who would never even know about it.
My first job experience wasn’t so nice… At first I’ve found a retoucher job in photo studio, it wasn’t a dream job, but it was something apart McDonalds cashier. They said that they also do design stuff so I was naively hoping they can teach me. I was working 10–12 hours a day for 2 weeks without weekends and then they just got rid of me with no payment. This is how the real business work, man!
And then I started searching a new place. I’ve almost got a job in the company which was printing photos, documents etc, they said that I can start on Monday, but I felt something… something not similar to joy. And this is not what you are supposed to feel when you get a brand new job, right? I recognised that I was trying to find my place in the totally wrong companies who maybe(!) can teach me design some day, even if it’s not their main specialization…
And that was the moment I realised that I need to do something. Right now.
I came home and went all-in. I’ve opened a list of design-studios of my city, picked the best I could find and started attacking them with the letters. I wasn’t intolerable (don’t think I was sending 100 letters to each one). But I was strict and honest:
I know almost nothing. But I want to. I’m ready to work for food, just let me work.
And BOOM! I couldn’t believe that, but I got a response from the guys I wasn’t expecting. They had such a cool website and portfolio, why would they hire me? But they did.
There can be a lot of reasons why company would need a junior designer — low salary, non-prioritised tasks or sincere wish to raise good specialists… But there is always a chance.
I worked for almost a year in that company. We had no art-director, no other designers, just a project manager, a developer and me. But we were so passionate and opened for learning that that year became decisive for the whole company. We were reading design literature and articles, visiting workshops (which were extremely rare in our city), discussing things between each other even considering the fact we were unexperienced. And then we started to do amazing things.
With the portfolio I got in that company I got “yes” from every place I applied later. Of course, it wasn’t the highest pick of my abilities and there was a long way to go, but I raised from “ready to work for food” to a competitive professional starting to cultivate their own vision and skills.
So when is that moment when you realise you are a designer?
Surprise-surprise, but it doesn’t exist.
You can realise it while drawing butterflies in the childhood.
You can realise it when you feel good while building complicated algorithms and systems in high-school.
You can realise it when you are shaking of anger while seeing another bad logo in the street.
You can realise it after 10 years on the career position you hate.
It can come to you at any moment of your life, but when it does, you just know that it’s time to act. To go and become UI/UX/graphic/visual/motion/logo designer, illustrator, 2D or 3D artist, art director… Or anyone else you want to. You don’t have to be born with that wish. You even don’t have to be “talented” in anything, because practice always makes perfect.
My name is Barbara Morrigan.
I was working for food.
I was working for my 2 month salaries.
I was spending sleepless nights finishing the project.
Even now I’m doing things for free or ridiculous money if I’m really into the project and want to help.
And I’m so damn proud to be a designer. Not because it’s prestigious, not because it gives me a lot of money and not because other benefits of this profession, even though they are really exist. But at the first place I’m proud to be a designer because this is whom I supposed to be all my life.