The Designer’s Journey

Nick Barry was invited to speak at a Career Day in Sydney recently. His presentation gave anecdotal evidence on the journey of a candidate from Digital Designer to Creative Director over a five-year period and key milestones crossed to get there. Here’s a summary:

Back in 2009 Nick was looking for a Flash Design / Developer when he discovered the value of how a Designer’s work is presented. He was surprised how many don’t have an online portfolio. The one that stood out had produced a minimal and clean portfolio – very similar to what you find these days on Behance or The Loop.


Milestone 1: create a great online portfolio and build on it.

The Designer was placed in a small digital creative studio with NGO and NFP clients such as Greenpeace and the work received a prestigious Weby award. Along with your portfolio, awards enhance your market value as a key Designer in the industry. Two years later it was time for a change and the Designer decided he needed a mentor. The best creatives in the industry have all had career mentors so this was a good decision.


Milestone 2: find a mentor.

Nick found a great match through a recently placed Creative Director at one of Sydney’s biggest global digital agencies with over 500 staff. The Creative Director / Senior Digital Designer relationship meant the Designer’s conceptual abilities and pitching skills were honed, leading to secure new clients such as EA Games and Universal Music. Three years later and it was time to think about becoming either a Design Director or a Creative Director?


Milestone 3: make a call on your career path.

Digital creatives tend to lean one-way or the other and at some point a decision has to be made. Once made, it’s really important that you back yourself and although rejection is probably inevitable, persistence is key.


Milestone 4: back yourself.

An independent digital agency was expanding and they took a chance allowing the Senior Designer to step up into the role of Creative Director. The chance paid off and they won major clients such as Colgate, L’Oreal and Peroni. We are most familiar with the Art Director / Copywriter team and some of the leading advertising agencies are run by joint Executive Creative Directors. This newly appointed Creative Director took a progressive approach and buddied up with a Creative Technologist. The work from this dynamic duo mean that the awards started to follow and exceptional work won them many accolades.


Milestone 5: find a creative partner.

These were five key milestones a Digital Designer took to reach success. You can too if you follow these steps! For career advice and information in the digital media industry in Australia, call Interactiveinc on + 61 2 9114 8160.