If I had to summarize the past couple months of the WGI experience in one word, I'd probably go with: unexpected. First off, I never expected to be accepted for it in the first place; And honestly I just thought it would give me a great excuse to make a better portfolio. As it turns out, it was a great chance to make a new portfolio since it was the portfolio that got me in the programme. But it turned out to be a whole lot more than just that.
In this time when travel wasn't really an option, but working online has become the new normal, it was the chance to explore the world a little differently. An opportunity to meet people I may have never met, connect with people who I came to respect, & meaningfully contribute to projects I probably never would have worked on otherwise. And I got to see exactly how far you can go, while working with some of the people who have already been there. In turn I've been able to learn more about my practice and myself than I ever could have on my own, while expanding my scope of what design means in the world. No matter where you find yourself in the early steps of a design career, there's something to be learnt from an experience like this.
I think something that will stick with me for life for better or worse was a chat I had with a Butchershop Creative Director about creative journeys, when he told me "there's no money in design." And I don't think he meant it at face value; But to me what it meant to me was that: It's not that you can't be an amazing designer and get paid to do that, it's that there's far more to design than what just it looks like. So you don't need to change your profession, you just need to figure out your product. Understand the strategy that goes into design, start to learn how to anticipate the needs of a project beyond the scope and then build the fundamentals in ways that can scale. And If you can learn to do the big things, all the small things become that much easier.
I also learnt that you shouldn't take yourself too seriously, this creative life is a journey, & sometimes you don't even know what you want until you start to understand what you don't. So set your goals, but be open minded towards changing what they may look like. It's a continuous process of learning perspectives, processes and opinions throughout your career to take it even further. You're never through the hard part of the learning - but when things are easy you're not really learning anything.
And one of the most important things I've learnt in this time so far is, It doesn't matter how good your ideas are if you can't explain them to someone else, this business is about communication. But It takes a long time to master the soft skills of this industry, and it's far more important to be a good communicator than it is to be an amazing practitioner. And while every project is gonna have it's depth, good communication is distilling those ideas down to their simplest form and explaining them to someone in the simplest forms.
So If you want to be a better designer and creative professional, get better at telling stories. And learn to explain your work to others in the same way you'd expect them to explain it to someone else
Overall this experience was a not so quick and easy crash-course on what it means to be working in the design industry. And with that comes a chance to grow immensely if you’re willing to listen, learn, and ask some questions. The experience allowed me to see above all that no matter where you go on your creative journey, if you have the fundamental skills and confidence in what you're doing; you can work anywhere and make anywhere work for you. While the people, Processes, & the projects change, the business of design is the same wherever you are. And what I've learnt during the experience has prepared me to find my feet wherever I might land.
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