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Getting Into The Industry Header 01

How’d you get into design?

May 14, 2020

It can be tough breaking into the creative industry. So, we asked the two most recent additions to the Citizen Studio team how they got into design and their route into the agency world.


Jack Sm

Jack – Creative Designer

I never really knew that Graphic Design was a career, let alone a career that I would be interested in.  I have always been creative and investigative, and had always been keen to understand how things worked, why they worked and what response someone got by using it. 

My fascination with cars as a child developed into a love for motorsport, and while I was cutting my teeth in Kart Racing, I became fascinated with mechanical systems, and the problem solving that came with engineering. Alongside this, I’d be drawing designs for my sticker kits, helmets (that I couldn’t afford to have painted) and designs for my friends who also raced. I loved doing this, but didn’t think there was any purpose other than my own enjoyment.

Unfortunately we didn’t really have the money for me to continue karting, so I looked ahead to a career in engineering, taking up Maths, Physics and Product Design at A level, and decided that ‘Graphic Design’ was something that would help me better my understanding of design. I started becoming obsessed with studies of successful campaigns, appreciating visual form and artwork created by people who wanted to achieve a goal, rather than just make something look good for the sake of it. (Don’t get me wrong, I loved art but not in the way that I can appreciate It now.) I started putting all of my time into graphics, learning new software, researching artists/brands and put less time into engineering. 

Move forward a couple of years and I joined the Graphic Design course at Coventry University. Loving every minute of tackling briefs and trying to achieve something new and different each time. I loved how I could be creating a typeface one day, a brand the next, and started exploring how I could develop these skills by learning animation and 3D. 

I graduated with First Class honours and two accreditations from Adobe in Photoshop and Illustrator, and found my first job at Citizen just three months later. 

Many people hear the way I started my education and can’t understand how someone who makes things work can switch gears to also making things look good. But really they share the same fundamental principle; how do I solve this problem?

Katie Sm

Katie – Junior Designer

From a very young age, I’ve always loved drawing, painting and using anything I could find to make a picture (a.k.a a mess). I’d fill notebook upon notebook with random scribbles and drawings, as well as possibly using up all the pens in the house… oops. 

Throughout primary and secondary school, art was my favourite subject but I never really thought about Graphic Design. In Year 9 I chose art (of course) and business studies as part of my GCSE studies. I soon realised business really wasn’t for me (along with not liking the teacher or the class I was in) so I switched to Graphic Design. I don’t think I’d ever even heard of it, but as it was remotely related to art – I signed up. I loved it straight away, and I liked how it was similar to art, but you had to think about the purpose, target audience and medium, as well as many other factors. I think it was then that I decided I’d like to do this as a career, rather than just a hobby. 

I then took it as an A Level, alongside art obviously, with English and Geography also making an appearance. At college my passion for design developed and I was focusing most of my time on my projects, rather than revising for exams, because I knew that I wanted to do it at University. At this point I was still mainly creating using screen printing, lino printing, drawing and painting because my knowledge of the relevant computer software was almost non-existent, which was a problem. So I knew that uni would be the best next step for helping me to learn more about design and develop the skills I needed, as I was not yet ready to emerge into the industry. 

At uni, I improved my computer skills and tried my hand at many different types of design; branding, type, illustration, editorial, but my love for drawing kept creeping back, so in the end illustration was my favourite. Uni was so important in furthering my skills and learning more about design to help me eventually get my first job in design. 

I think my experience, coupled with getting my work seen, whether that was entering competitions, exhibiting work or applying for jobs, ultimately got me where I am now!

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