Bryony is a Graphic Designer, currently working for Marks. She recently moved from London to their Amsterdam studio at the start if the year. She has been in the design industry for just over five years now, picking up lots of experience that she has tried to use to better herself as a designer.
Outside of work, Bryony loves the outdoors – especially hiking and mountain biking. Connecting with nature really helps to clear her mind, which she finds important for mental health and inspiring creativity.
What led you to become a designer? Was this something you had in mind from a young age?
I’ve always been artistic. When I was younger, I would collect all the cool packaging in our house, cut out things I liked in magazines – I’d even make my family little business cards. I guess this made me a bit of a black sheep in my family. Both my parents are scientists and my brothers have gone into more academic jobs too, but I never felt pressured to keep within the family’s fields.
I think being dyslexic has meant I’ve always found it hard to express myself with words, so art became my outlet instead. I try to solve my own challenges creatively and wanted to follow what I love doing – creating – even though there’s a huge misconception that there’s no money in it. I stuck with this, studying Graphic Design at Norwich University of the Arts and was open and passionate enough to make it work for me as a career.
What is your favourite aspect of your job?
I'm blessed to be in a job and industry that I love, and sadly not everyone can say that. For me, my favourite part is the conceptual phase. There’s something about getting pencil to paper and working through your ideas - sketching out concepts, fusing together ideas with strategy and seeing it all come to life. That’s when I find myself getting most excited.
So, tell us a little bit about how you ended up in your current role?
I got headhunted by a recruiter on LinkedIn. I’d always wanted to work abroad and made that a priority when looking for jobs. It’s so important to get different perspectives on life and see your own culture through a foreign lens. Honestly, with Covid and Brexit, I didn’t think I would get this job at Marks. In the past, Brexit has been a key factor in why I didn’t get hired, so, I was so excited to find that I’d got it!
Starting out as a designer did you find it difficult to break into the industry? What helped you? What tip(s) would you give to those trying to land a graduate position or internship in the creative industries?
It’s been a rollercoaster from when I started out to now. I was interning for over a year after university and then got made redundant pretty soon into my first permanent role. That was a scary time, but with every setback you learn and you grow. Looking back, my internships were so useful in narrowing down what sort of work and what sort of company I wanted to be with long-term.
A lot of my internships had been through connections to my university. I would reach out with my portfolio and a brief paragraph about why I liked their work and their studio. I’m still in touch with my tutor now and will regularly send over any junior opportunities that students might be interested in.
Keeping in contact with all the connections I made during my internships has been so helpful. I’ll still check in with them now to see what they think of my portfolio. It’s great to get fresh eyes, and sometimes they’ll point things out that you hadn’t seen or thought about in a particular way before. Or, you can be too close to projects and end up putting way too much information in there. It's all about curating the best bits that showcase the depth and breadth of your skills.
It's all about curating the best bits that showcase the depth and breadth of your skills.
As design is a competitive field, how do you cope with comparing yourself to peers? (/imposter syndrome)
I think we are all guilty of this; we’re most critical of ourselves. Starting out, I was always self-conscious in meetings about sharing my ideas. I’d be sat there thinking, ‘Wow, their ideas are way better than mine’, or panic about being less prepared or not having done as much work. You’ve got to remind yourself that it only takes one great idea.
The best way I coped with this was talking to my colleagues. It sounds obvious but when you talk and collaborate, it becomes much more of a team effort. You build on each other’s ideas and create better work because of it. Granted, there will always be people out there who want to create an environment of constant competition, but sometimes this can push you too.
I’d be sat there thinking, ‘Wow, their ideas are way better than mine’, or panic about being less prepared or not having done as much work. You’ve got to remind yourself that it only takes one great idea.
Why should we be using social media to improve our connections?
We’re very lucky to be in an age where connectivity and finding people is easy. The design industry is built on trusted recommendations from people who have worked with you so this can help you go far. It’s also a great way of showcasing your work.
Which is the most effective social media for making creative connections?
I use LinkedIn quite a bit. It’s how I’ve stayed in contact with people from university, internships and past jobs. It’s also great for researching and following companies, making sure you’re up to date with what’s going on and what people are talking about. It’s this context that will help you stand out in interviews and meetings, enabling you to talk to more senior team on their level. The jobs board on Design Week is also really useful. Because it’s specific to the design industry, each advert contains a lot more detail than you tend to find on other jobs boards. It will highlight whether the role leans towards typography, packaging design, motion etc, making it easier to pinpoint whether it’s the role for you.
What advice would you give to those who find using new social media/new features daunting?
You don’t necessarily need to share weekly posts or be overly curated with your account, just make sure you update your profile regularly and engage. Like or comment on relevant posts from companies and people that you admire. The more you engage, the more personalised and relevant your feed becomes (and the more searches you’ll show up in too). If you market yourself right and use settings like ‘Open to work’ on LinkedIn, you will get noticed.
You don’t necessarily need to share weekly posts or be overly curated with your account, just make sure you update your profile regularly and engage.
What is one social media trend you hope will die in 2022?
Everything seems to be moving towards oversimplification at the moment – in both social media and design. I love looking at vintage posters, obsessing over their crafted elements. I think we’re losing our appreciation for detail, which is sad – it’s all starting to look very similar. It would be amazing to see a resurgence of the vintage style on social media and design in the New Year.
Who are your top 3 Instagram accounts?
What is one thing you wish you knew prior to starting your journey into the creative industries?
Know when to stand up for yourself. No one really talks about the hard situations you face in your career - like how to ask for a pay rise or push back when you think you’re undervalued. Some people will be lucky enough to be in a company that focuses on developing their employees, but sadly not all companies see this as a priority - high turnover of staff is usually an indication.
Early into my career, I found myself doing a junior designer’s role on an intern’s wage, which the company tried to keep me on for as long as they could. It wasn't until I handed in my notice that I was offered the junior position with the higher salary.
It’s important to recognise when you’re being taken advantage of, to fight your own corner (with logic and evidence, of course). If you’re no longer getting value out of your job, start searching elsewhere. Your time as a junior is central to your progress, so don’t waste it in the wrong place.
Your time as a junior is central to your progress, so don’t waste it in the wrong place.
What is a saying/quote you live by?
This quote always resonated with me when I was growing up – ‘If you love what you do you will never work a day in your life’. You spend 90% of your life at work so you owe it to yourself to make sure you’re in a role that makes you feel enriched, inspired and satisfied.
Thank you, Bryony, for sharing some (killer) advice with the PofY community.