Our “So you want to be…” series aims to help you in the process of choosing a career. We feature a practising professional who tells us what you can expect in their field of work. This week, we feature Jeanne Fourie, a 26-year-old independent graphic designer and illustrator from Cape Town. She has been a graphic designer since 2011, and has been independent for the past 10 months. She’s designed posters for renowned live music venues in Cape Town, Fiction and The Assembly, as well as designed artwork for prominent electronic music artists like Card On Spokes.
Live SA: In one line, tell us what a graphic designer does.
Jeanne: They come up with creative solutions to problems and visually communicate various ideas and concepts.
Live SA: Did you have to study for this job?
Jeanne: I actually don’t have a degree in graphic design. I studied industrial design at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), but realised after three years it’s not what I wanted to do. I did have some knowledge of design, but most of what I know as a graphic designer and illustrator is through internships with companies, and using the internet as a tool for learning. But if you know you want to become a graphic designer, you should study graphic design.
Live SA: Can you give us a day in the life of a graphic designer?
Jeanne: I’m self-employed, so it could be anything from liaising with clients either in my studio, or visiting them on site, compiling briefs, communicating with various suppliers, getting down to conceptualising design and doing research.
Live SA: What do you love about your job?
Jeanne: As an independent, I love the fact that I can work on my own time. It does get stressful; some days you work two hours, some days 15 hours. I get excited when I put out something new and fresh that I love, and I love the challenge of solving problems through illustration.
Live SA: What is the biggest challenge you face?
Jeanne: Finding inspiration when it’s just not happening.You’re reliant on your own creativity to come up with ideas. Sometimes it’s a really easy, quick and a straight-forward road to get to that final solution, and sometimes it’s a long and winding, steep slope.
Live SA: How do you overcome this?
Jeanne: I call it “inspiration harvesting”: I have a lot of online websites, creatives and designers that I follow. I just look at other people’s work. Not as a means to copy anything, but to look at the work other people do so that it sparks an idea.
Live SA: Some misconceptions young people have of the job?
Jeanne: There’s this common idea that goes around, that graphic design is just drawing pictures. Creatives have to employ problem-solving strategies to come to a solution. You have to think about colour, shape, composition, general style, how to communicate something in the best possible way.
Live SA: What personality traits do you need?
Jeanne: You need to be a passionate person, somebody who has this inherent need to express themselves. You must be curious and have an inner drive to push yourself, grow your skill-set and develop your portfolio.
Live SA: Finish this sentence: “You shouldn’t do this job if you’re…”
Jeanne: Not a self-reliant or motivated person. Not prepared to constantly chase graphic design and be on top of trends.
Live SA: Any professional highlights?
Jeanne: Doing artwork for events in Cape Town, it’s the most fun to do because I get creative freedom with posters and illustrations for the artists. Luminaries, (a year long project which began this year, featuring various successful individuals who have inspired her. Each week she illustrates a card for a specific person and explains why they inspire her.) my first individual, independent project, where I’ve conceptualised the whole thing.
One resource that has been valuable to her: http://www.designspiration.net