Emily de Vale

Emily de Vale graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2012 with a 1st in Textile Design. She’s employed full-time for a business consultancy firm, working in the marketing department. She manages their marketing activity, creates content and designs their marketing material, as well as also contributing to the brand’s identity through design. In her spare time, she works on fitness and loves to travel. Read our interview with her below:

Hi Emily! What’s your main source of inspiration when approaching a new project? Do you do a lot of research before a final design?

Yes, I always start by researching the topic / industry that I’m designing for to see what others have done. I consider what’s been done before then work out how I can do it better or combine their ideas with other sources of inspiration. I have a folder for inspiration that I add to whenever something catches my eye. Whether it’s on a website, or something I’ve seen and taken a photo of walking down the street.

How quickly after uni did you manage to find work?

It took me 2 years to find a job in Design.

How much creative freedom do you feel you get in your current job/internships/projects?

I’m restricted to brand colour schemes and design elements, but I would say I’m lucky as we are always trying to improve the look and feel of our brand, so I do have the freedom to try new things. Sometimes they get implemented, sometimes they’re outweigh restrictions, but at least I’m allowed to try to these ideas can always be added to my portfolio, so it is not a wasted effort.

Do you actively seek work (how?), and what is most important – CV, portfolio, social media, blogs?m

I am starting to and far I’d say that word of mouth is the best way. I reach out to contacts in the field and also just fiends – people always seem to know someone they can introduce you to.

What resources and infrastructure do you miss now that you are away from uni? Do you feel connected to the people or networks that were available in uni?  How do you manage to make new contacts?

To be honest I didn’t find uni very useful for contacts. I miss having tutors on hand to critique your work, but again you can find those people after you leave uni. Reaching out to anyone you know to make contacts – there’s always someone willing to help if you ask.

What one thing do you know now that you wish you had known when you were leaving uni?

Interning and working for free is not the only way to get a job.

How do you overcome difficulties during projects such as lack of ideas, motivation etc?

I take a break from it, go and do something totally unrelated to work, then go back to it. I don’t think you can force ideas so letting your mind relax helps me to go back and be creative again. Looking at what others have done motivates me as well.

How do you manage your time and adjust to going from having the uni schedule to not having a set schedule as such? Do you plan projects up front?

I give myself deadlines by arranging meetings with people in the industry for advice, as it’s good to get people’s opinions on how your portfolio is progressing. It gives me a reason to create a new piece of work to show them.

How do you deal with clients and putting value in to your projects, cost per hour of your work, do you generally get a lot of negotiation in regards to hourly rate/selling rate?

Yes, I always give my daily rate and explain that this is based on the wage that I get in my job. I try to explain the effort that goes into a piece of work, because often people who do not work in the industry won’t have any idea of what goes into it. If it’s for a friend or a contact then I’ll give them around a 20/30% discount and I’ll let them know. Sometimes people simply can’t afford what you quote so occasionally I’ll go lower if it’s a friend. I’ll always make it clear that it’s a one-off so that the value of your work doesn’t decrease. If I’m doing graphic work then I’ll suggest use stick illustrations in a layout, if a client wants to save money, rather than creating them from scratch, and things like that.

Have you experienced any form of internship, and if so, is it something you would recommend? How did you go about getting one? Are there any websites?

Yes, I did one for my favourite designer at the time. If you really can’t find paid work then I would recommend it as it gives you an insight into the industry so you can decide if it’s an area you really want to pursue. I did 3 months. I would say this is too long without being paid. I think you could get enough out of a month interning. I don’t believe it’s right to expect someone to work for that long with no pay. That’s expecting free labour at the end of the day. Anyone you intern for should at least pay your expenses.

Would you consider going back to education, do you have any plans for the future?

Yes I would consider it. I would possibly do a masters, but only if I felt the need to upskill or if I was changing specialism.

Thanks Emily!



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