Employers look for electricity. They want to see a twitchiness to learn, a desire to create new things and the ability to transfer your energy in some way – through your personality, through your work and so on. A lot of young people are scared when they arrive for an interview. But being boring kills it, so find the things you love, and learn as much about them as possible so you can be engaging when you talk about them.
Being excited, amused or intrigued by human behaviour will give you an insight into how people interact with the world, and that can be integral to success as a creative. Getting excited by how people behave at gigs or football matches, or how they move through a particular space, will give you an insight into how we navigate through the world in groups. Drawing from life experience always helps you be a better designer.
Employers in the creative industries often look for people who think about systems in the broadest sense. Digital consists of input and outputs, which is a bit like cause and effect. Understanding how people interact with each other is just as important as understanding how they interact with a cash machine. What happens next? What happens if I push this button? What happens if I say it like this?
Be interested in lots of different things: how they work; how they move; their nature. An investigative attitude is vital – why is it doing it like that? Why is it there? This is not just an interest in mechanics, however: chemical, visceral or emotional responses to things can inform your work and practice just as effectively.
5 Technology versus technology
Being optimistic about the possibilities of technology, but staying sceptical about its limits, will help create work that breaks down barriers. People who push tech are the ones who do new things. You don’t have to be a developer or coder to be brilliant in digital – often people have a friend or colleague who can help. But having an understanding of the culture of code – that sense of breaking things to remake them – will enable you to push the boundaries and create new ideas.
6 Shallow passion versus deep passion
Being an authority on 19th century French literature is useful, but having a knowledge of all sorts of different things is equally important. Creativity is about breadth, so the more things you’re aware of, the more references you’ll have and the more likely you are to spot an unlikely connection.
7 Appreciate both art and copy
The traditional silos of art director or copy writer might be defunct, but having a point of view on aesthetics is vital. Creative businesses thrive on flare: flare in words, flare in visuals. A taste for both and a love of good design will get you far.
Employers aren’t looking for perfect answers, particularly from someone starting out. They’re looking for the potential to deliver those answers in the future. People with a toolbox of skills are often better at solving problems, and if you’ve executed your ideas – even imperfectly – it makes you better at explaining them, which helps sell them. It doesn’t matter if it’s done in After Effects or Powerpoint or carved out of balsa wood, people who make things break them in the process, and learn more. Employers like people who can solve their own problems.
9 Northern industry
Putting the hours in, especially in design, is the best way to get really good. There’s truth in the adage that 10,000 hours will make you brilliant, and if you maintain a good work ethic, it will really show in the quality of your work. If you want a job that is also your hobby, put the time in and you’ll soon shine.
10 Good shoes
People think they’re making a statement with their T-shirt, but really the shoes say everything. Remember that.
D&AD New Blood presents the work of graduates in graphic design, visual communication, advertising, digital media, illustration, photography and other commercial creative arts.
All illustrations by Sophy Hollington