Tell us a little bit about you, who you are and what you do
Hi! So I’m Jorja, a recent graduate from Nottingham Trent University Studying Graphic design. I have a huge love for branding, editorial and packaging design. Currently I’m looking at interning at different agencies to gain some experience. On the side I have created a podcast where I’ve chatted to some brilliant creatives.
When did you first know you wanted to pursue a creative career ? Have you always been creative?
Ever since I was younger I’ve always loved drawing and being creative. There’s so many old photos of me when I was younger colouring alone in a corner haha, It’s always been my happy place. I think a huge part of why I decided I could make a career out of being creative is the support my family has constantly given. I found school really difficult, especially English, maths and science the ones that are seen as the ‘most important’ 🙄 but my parents always said that those weren’t the be all and end all, that I should always do things that I enjoy. So ever since then I’ve just followed where my passion lies.
Congratulations on graduating university ! How have you been spending your days not having university deadlines to be working towards ?
Thank you! I felt like I had a good schedule going towards the end of uni and then all of a sudden my projects were all handed in and all I really had to do was sit in bed all day watching Netflix, which I mean was fine for the first few days, but I love to be doing things and have a schedule to my day so i’ve started trying to go for a walk or run each morning. I’ve started to read the pile of books that I hadn’t had time to read before and getting back into my love for illustration - it’s so nice to just sit and draw with no real purpose or for a set brief or project. I've also started some voluntary work and had the exciting opportunity to work with Rising Issue as their graphic designer. So I’ve been creating content for their Instagram when needed and soon I’ll be helping out with issue 2 of the magazine! And I’m working with The Arena as their marketing assistant within slack which is very exciting so more to come with that in the near future.
What does a day in the life of Jorja look like right now ?
I’ve just started a placement with True Story, a marketing and advertising agency in Nottingham. I’m currently in my first week there but it’s been brilliant and the people are so supportive and friendly. So far, while I've been there I've worked on a live brief helping to pitch ideas. It’s been really eye opening to see previous stuff the agency has worked on too, I’ve managed to see how projects have evolved and the amount of people that are brought in to bring a concept to life.
On Saturdays I help run a Saturday art club for 13-16 year old which has been the best job for the last 2 years! It’s been incredible to see how art and design can help build confidence in young people and we’ve been able to try so many different disciplines and be really creative.
You and I recently had a nice conversation about the “period of growth”, and how that period between transitioning from being a student to working in the industry is actually one we should treasure and take advantage of.
How have you been feeling since we had the realisation that we aren’t in a “slump” but, in fact, we are growing?
Yes! It was a great conversation - something I needed to hear!
A lot of what I’ve been feeling after uni has been around comparison and constantly worrying and comparing my path after university with the people that were on my course. But once you brought up how we should see this time as a period of growth it put a lot of things into perspective. Why are we always rushing for something? Why can’t we put the same level of achievement on taking time out as we do with getting a job or going straight into an internship. I’ve been feeling like I’m in some way slower than others and like you said, in a ‘slump’. But I’ve actually done and achieved so much in this time that’s helped me to grow and will continue to help me grow. I keep making out like I do nothing all day but that’s far from the truth 😂 It’s my period of growth and imma OWN IT!
Why can’t we put the same level of
achievement on taking time out as we
do with getting a job or going straight
into an internship
How have you been keeping yourself motivated? Any inspiring books, shows and/or words to live by that have been helping you recently?
Like I said, I know that for me having structure in my day is something that's incredibly important to help me stay motivated. Staying active and going for a walk or run helps so much as well! I’ve recently read Citizen first Designer second by Rejane Dal Bello and it's incredible! Would definitely recommend it. I've also been listening to the DOPA podcast - all around creative wellness. Words that really resonated with me when listening to that were from Alec Tear who said that ‘these brickwalls only exist inside your own mind’. It’s something that I constantly have to remind myself of, my brain can really self sabotage sometimes and overthink how others perceive me and my work, especially in stressful situations when I feel I have to prove myself. But listening to that podcast made me consciously think about it and become aware of when I might be creating these barriers.
Has graduating during a pandemic interrupted your original plan for life after university? If so, how have you tackled the challenge?
Oh 100%. My main goal after uni was to move out straight away, get a job - regardless of what it was, just something that paid and helped me to get out shifnal (My home town in shropshire) But from the pandemic i’ve learnt to appreciate what I have and noticed just how many talented creatives there are in the midlands. For example, I've spoken to a lot of creatives from Birmingham recently,I’m gonna shout out Neeraj Kainth here because he’s absolutely killing it!
Graduating in a pandemic has maybe made me take things a lot slower… Just learning to stop and take in what opportunities I have around me and not to jump straight into a job that doesn't make me happy.
Just learning to stop and take in what
opportunities I have around me and not
to jump straight into a job that doesn't
make me happy.
Do you think that social media has any positive/negative effects on newly graduates? If so, how do you think we can use social media to our advantage / avoid the negative aspects?
For me, Instagram and LinkedIn have been hugely beneficial in building my online presence and making valuable connections within the community. I wouldn't be doing the things I’m doing now without social media. It can be a positive place especially for people wanting to show their work and engage in what others are doing. But… It has it’s negatives and I know a lot of my friends find social media really difficult, there's a huge pressure to be on social media, to be on social media constantly as well. It can become addictive and you can lose a lot of creativity when that feeling of comparison creeps in, because you’re bombarded with everyone's highlight reels.
I’ve started to use Instagram as more of a personal blog… So I try to forget who could potentially see it and just share anything that I think I'd like to look back on in a few weeks, like a journal. Of course as a creative I want it to look at least a little bit aesthetically pleasing haha but it’s important to share the process of work, which i’m hoping to do more of.
I’d tell anyone that’s reading this to not care about the likes or the amount of followers you have!!! That’s something that I think can really get people down and make you think that your work is not good enough and compare yourself to others. DON’T DO IT! Social media is full of algorithms, you can not put your worth in how many likes or followers you have.
That’s something that I think can
really get people down and make
you think that your work is not good
enough and compare yourself
DON’T DO IT!
Are you working on any projects at the moment? Is there anything exciting in the pipelines ? 👀
I’m taking it quite slow at the moment, I have a lot of projects floating around in my head but right now I’m trying to take time out of my day to draw more, so you might see some of that floating around on my socials. By the time this article is out I may have uploaded a new podcast with Anthony Burril!!! I’m speaking with him this week around the theme of comparison, how it never goes away, no matter who you are.
So, you’re a podcaster ! Tell us a little bit more about that
I am! Soo Jorja’s podcast (really need to change the name at some point, I hate that it’s not got a punchy cool name 😂) but anyway, It all started because I'd been listening to a lot of podcasts since the start of lockdown. Creative boom, Glug podcast sooo many. So I thought, you know, I want to be doing something like this! We’d just handed everything in after 2nd year of uni, and like I said I like to keep myself busy. So I messaged my friends and pitched this podcast idea where I’d interview different creatives from different disciplines and levels. Just documenting who I've connected with. At first it was going to be something within my university but slowly that idea started to branch out and I was meeting lots of people far and wide who were surprisingly really up for a chat.
When I was first thinking about starting a podcast I got so focused on what sort of recording stuff I'd need. I was talking to lots of people who already had podcasts and just asking how they got started and a lot of people were saying the same thing - the hardest thing to do was to just start. So it wasn’t until I got talking with Taylor Jones (a second year student at falmouth at the time) who said that you don’t actually need any fancy recording equipment all you need is something to call people on and record your voice, it doesn't matter how high tech it is to start with. So we set up a call and we recorded my first ever podcast! Now I'm on the 14th episode and it’s been brilliant to meet so many amazing people. Every single person involved I've been able to build a friendship with and it’s incredible what being vulnerable and putting yourself out there and asking questions can do.
Your podcast is such a positive, inspiring community; do you recommend any creative platforms or communities that inspire you?
Thank you so much! I’ve come across soooo many creative platforms over the last few years that inspire me everyday. Everyone MUST check out Femme Fatal Gals, Pickle Illustration, The Arena, Fuse, YSM8, StillHereStillLife, Fuck Being Humble, ilikenetworking, Creative lives in progress, It’s nice that, Unify Fal, Proper Talk. The list could go on, but those are just a few instagram accounts / blogs to follow.
Do you have any role models or mentors who helped shape who you are as a creative today?
Yes, yes, yes I wouldn't be here today without learning from role models and taking mentorship opportunities. Jaheed Hussain - founder of Fuse has been my mentor as part of The Arena mentoring scheme and he's been brilliant! During uni I had a call with him at least twice a month and he was always there for me to send stuff over like advice with my CV and portfolio and to just give advice on days where I wasn't feeling very motivated and needed a few words of encouragement. Claudia Aggett has been a huge role model to me, always being there for advice and it's been incredible to watch her grow and succeed. Her and Maisie Benson set up a happy to help initiative this year and I was able to get in contact and have portfolio reviews with so many people. Laura Bertineli and Yas Banks being two of them. I’ve also had Anthony Burril on my podcast and as I mentioned earlier, we're doing another follow up episode later this week. He’s a star and so supportive within the community! I think it’s so easy to put people on pedestals thinking there's no way they'd speak to you but we're all just people at the end of the day navigating life and finding where we fit in.
I think it’s so easy to put people on
pedestals thinking there's no way they'd
speak to you but we're all just people at
the end of the day navigating life and
finding where we fit in.
Where do you see yourself this time next year?
Ahhh a scary question. My goal is to end up living and working in a Graphic Design studio in Manchester, but as I’m not rushing things and I plan on really making the most of where I am right now, I hope by this time next year I’ll have a few internships under my belt and have more of an idea of what studio I want to be apart of. Maybe I'll have a full time role? I mean, fingers crossed but who knows, i’m trying not to put pressure on it. I just want to be happy and content in what I'm doing and following where my passions lie.
And lastly, do you have any advice for fellow graduates or others who are also currently in a period of growth?
Regardless of whether you've gone down a university route, you decided to forge your own path in a different direction to others, you're in a period of growth, just talk to people! Don’t be afraid to reach out to others. I’d never be able to get out of a slump with work or the insecurities I feel about my creativity if I didn’t talk to people and be honest about how I feel. And be happy for your friends and the paths they are forging, even though they may not be the same as your own, try not to compare journeys, it can become toxic. You’re all on different paths and you should all be proud of each other, bigging each other up not putting people down. Let’s all congratulate ourselves for our small wins, and don’t forget to congratulate others for theirs.