How can you thrive as a designer when you’re still studying? Two award-winning RMIT design graduates share their top tips.
Supinthorn Saengsukyen and Natalie Viola were two of the seven RMIT graduates who won big at this year’s Design Institute of Australia’s Victoria and Tasmania Graduate of the Year Awards.
For these up-and-comers, the awards are just one stop on the way to an exciting career.
Viola, an Associate Degree in Interior Decoration and Design graduate, and Saengsukyen, a graduate of the Bachelor of Arts (Textile Design), share some much-needed advice on how to flourish as a designer when you’re still stuck in the classroom.
1. Stay up-to-date with design trends
Ever-changing design trends means that those who can keep up with the latest styles will be one step ahead of their competitors, and Saengsukyen advises translating that advantage into action.
“Know the market and start to forecast what will happen in the future.”
But whether it’s covering magazines, the internet or stores, being on top of all aspects of the design world isn’t just a suggestion – it’s a responsibility.
“As designers, we should be up-to-date on all new trends and new knowledge at all times,” Saengsukyen says.
2. Question the world around you
Designers shouldn’t limit themselves to creative industries when they look for inspiration either, says Viola.
“Whether it’s delving into history or keeping in step with modern technology, any information – no matter how small – can be used as inspiration.”
This questioning attitude can be used to avoid getting stuck in a “creative rut”, especially when considering positive change.
“The role of a designer is to understand our world and the people who reside in it. To be informed on many topics will only result in producing more solid and unique designs,” she says.
Viola is also thankful for the guidance of RMIT’s experienced teachers and industry mentors, who helped her pursuit of knowledge and paved an “excellent start to her interior design career”.
3. Practice makes perfect
Improving technical skills, Saengsukyen says, is just as crucial to career progression as a designer’s work ethic.
A dedication to building technique is valuable in any profession, but looking at skills in design areas other than your own is the best way to expand.
“I always keep myself busy by practising painting, drawing and knitting. Skills can be transferred and applied in many ways,” she says.
Viola agrees that variety can spark fresh approaches to old concepts, and that “cross-pollinating ideas and trying new production methods are great ways to unexpectedly discover a new perspective”.
4. Let confidence guide you
It’s a cliché phrase, but confidence really is the key to standing out, say Viola and Saengsukyen.
Viola says emerging designers shouldn’t be afraid to grasp new opportunities for growth, no matter how daunting they seem.
“Whether that be going to exhibitions or networking events, it’s good to see what’s out there and talk with many people,” she says.
Meanwhile, self-belief gave Saengsukyen the motivation to craft her passion into a fully fledged career.
She says RMIT’s art and design programs, ranked first in Australia and 17th in the world by QS University 2017 rankings, provided her with “opportunities to be myself and shine”.
“Self-belief fills me with energy to work successfully. Believe in what you do and do the best you can.”
Story: Jennifer Park