4 secrets for a successful design career

Pentagram, Wolff Olins, Hey Studio and Annie Atkins share their secrets at OFFSET.

successful design career

Sue Murphy created this pattern work for a number of album sleeves

What's the key to a successful design career? Speaking on day two of OFFSET festival, Emily Oberman of Pentagram, Veronica Fuerte of Hey Studio, Sue Murphy of Wolff Olins and Oscar-winner Annie Atkins reveal what they think are the most important attributes of a successful graphic designer.

01. Do your homework

successful design career

Atkins made everything from hand-written notes to carpet patterns for the film

"To work as a graphic designer in film, have to understand both graphic design and film-making," says Annie Atkins, who won an Oscar for her work on Wes Anderson's 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'. "If you have no knowledge of filmmaking whatsoever, you'll find that you have to start from the bottom again on any project you work on.

"The difficult thing is that there's not many graphic design jobs in film. It's a hidden area... an invisible world and colleges really don't push their students towards it. The Grand Budapest Hotel really shone a light on design in film, so people are more aware now. But you really need to know your stuff. In both graphic design and film-making."

02. Have a positive attitude

successful design careeer

One of Hey Studio's many branding projects

"It doesn't matter how big your portfolio is or how much experience you've got," begins Hey Studio's Veronica Fuerte. "If you don't have a positive attitude, you won't get anywhere. You need to be confident and personable. Remember to take a breath and talk to your team... you're going to be spending a lot of time with them and without a positive attitude, you're not going to be nice to be around."

03. Have a clear idea

successful design career

Sue Murphy has worked all around the world and is currently based in San Francisco

"You need to always be enthusiastic," says Sue Murphy. "We're luck that there's a tutorial for everything online, but you need to make sure you're always striving for original ideas. You need to have a good, clear and well thought out idea behind everything that you produce. What is it that you're doing? Why? Ask questions constantly."

04. Stay curious

successful design career

Pentagram have created identities for huge brands, including Tiffany&Co

"You need to be curious and work really, really hard," enthuses Pentagram partner Emily Oberman. "There's something great about wanting to produce the best solution and that's one of the best things about being a graphic designer - that 'Ah-ha!' moment when everything comes together.

"You need to care. Caring and being curious is beneficial to anyone, whether you're an intern or a creative director. Always push yourself outside of your comfort zone."

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A founder member of the Creative Bloq team, Sammy Maine is now a freelance journalist. She also thinks that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is probably the best television series ever created.