The juniors – just getting started

Hello, my name is Natalie.
Welcome to my world as a recently graduated graphic designer working at The Pencil Box. I was asked to write about my creative journey when I started, my personal experiences and what I’ve learnt along the way. I was super excited about the new challenge, but when push came to shove, I couldn’t think of a single topic to write about. I adore creative writing, but it’s not something that always comes easily. Generating a concept, an idea or even writing a five-word sentence takes some serious brain power. I like to think of a creative block as a period of drought, where the brain cannot produce any fresh ideas. As creatives, we all experience this, even if we don’t like to admit it. During my university years, I often found myself in droughts, and I didn’t know how to cope with this. I would sit for hours overthinking my brief, juggling concepts in my mind but never sharing my thoughts or opinions with others. It just always sounded better in my mind, as soon as I said it out loud nothing made sense, maybe it was just the nerves kicking in. The idea of having a review or a critique completely freaked me out, so the best thing for me was to avoid the lecturer for as long as possible. Isolating myself from everyone because of my creative block didn’t help at all. I struggled with self-doubt in my design process, fighting against myself, jumping from idea to idea, wondering whether this whole creative career was for me.

So starting a new job as you can imagine came with some serious nerves and yes, a little bit of drought.
Here are a few things I’ve learned stepping into the real world as a young graphic designer.

You’re not alone
I realised that everyone faces these anxieties and fears, regardless of where you might be on your life path. It’s comforting to know that you are not alone, and yes you may feel a little crazy, but I bet the person sitting next to you goes through the same thing too.

Mood boards lift the mood 
I love mood boards. It helps me get an overall look and feel for whatever needs creating. It’s a fun yet powerful way to communicate my vision, and it does all the talking for me.

Two heads are better than one
Brainstorming sparks new ideas that you didn’t have before. I love having creative meetups to bounce ideas around or come up with new concepts for future projects. It’s also a fantastic way to get to know the people you work with. You get to see what their strengths and weaknesses are and that makes group work and collaboration that much easier.

Get soaked
Be a sponge and soak up as much information as you can from your creative team and other people who inspire you. Ask as many questions as it takes to understand. Pursue other creative interests that are not necessarily in your field. All will add up to stock your creative well.

It’s just an idea
Share your ideas but don’t get too emotionally attached to an idea or concept. If you feel strongly about an idea though, fight for it but learn when to quit and let it go. It might not work this time around, but you can always bank it for later.

Enjoy the ride
If like me, you’re at the start of your creative career, and like me, you intend to live a long, happy and very creative life, there’s no reason to panic. Just take a breather and go back to the drawing board. Your best is yet to come.

Hi, my name is Qaasiem.
You can call me Q or Kaas (the Afrikaans word for cheese in a posh accent) or anything you choose.
I’m working as an intern graphic designer here at The Pencil Box, and I’m studying Web Publishing and Interactive Media although I’m still not one hundred percent sure what that means yet.

This is what I’ve learnt in my first few weeks in the “real world”.
Design work is time-consuming. From the moment we get briefed to the very last minutes before a deadline we always find ourselves adding or removing things from our designs. Add other responsibilities like studying or family obligation to this and time begins to run out fast. The very first thing our mentors emphasised when I started this internship, was time management. It’s the single most important tool in your daily life, besides being creative. It’s learning to balance not just the workload but also all the other things you need to do to live, like eating, relaxing, socialising, family and sleeping.

It’s all about balance –  trying to find that sweet spot of when to do things and when not to as well. When I learnt about time management in school, it seemed irrelevant and didn’t feel like it would make much of a difference in my life. But I’m quickly coming to learn the importance of time management in achieving anything worthwhile especially career wise. But before this there were many sleepless nights, falling asleep in class, coming in late or just a lack of productivity before I realised that managing my time was the real OG of success.

Today I find myself doing just that – working hard and switching off when I need to. There isn’t a specific algorithm to achieve a successful time management lifestyle, it’s about knowing yourself and your limits and setting healthy boundaries so that you don’t over do it or do too little.

To end off, a quote on time…
“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” – William Penn

This is just the beginning of our journeys, we’re just getting started. We invite you to walk this wildly exciting road with us… until our next post.

Natalie & Qaasiem