Ally Pedersen took time out of her busy schedule to give us the rundown of her transition from graphic design university student to full time creative employee.
Hey Ally, thanks for taking the time out to have a quick chat with us!
My pleasure, thanks so much for asking me to be a part of the site.
Now we always like to start off with the basics, where were you born and raised, and how old are you?
I am 22 years old and was born and raised in Geelong which is south-west of Melbourne in Victoria. I also had a small stint in the inner suburbs of Melbourne itself during my studies but made the move back late last year for work.
What job brought you back home to Geelong and how long have you been in that position?
I’m currently working as Junior Graphic Designer for Typo which are a part of the Cotton Group and I have been working there for around about six months now, it is my first full time design job since completing my studies and I absolutely love it!
That sounds amazing. Working for a company which is a part of the Cotton Group must be great given the group’s size and all the possibilities for career growth.
It is definitely exciting working for such a big company. It was always a goal of mine to be a part of such a large organisation, as I wanted to be a part of something that’s bigger than just me as a designer.
Is there any part of your job that has stood out above anything else so far?
Probably the biggest thing that has stood out so far is the shock of going from University to working full time. I was suddenly thrown in the deep end and had to really focus on my time management skills from the outset. Also the transition between being a newbie and then being given the green light to actually start designing for them was a quick one which was an incredible feeling and it’s that sort of thing that really helped me flourish so early on in the company. It is a really nice feeling when you get the backing so early in the piece, especially when you are a Junior employee.
When did you know that a career in design was for you?
It was in year 10, I had always liked art and drawing as a kid growing up and it was really one of the only things I was extremely confident in. I ended up taking a VET media class in school and really enjoyed using the Adobe suite of programs to create digital art and I was very lucky to have a teacher who was a big supporter of my work. Ultimately it became a bit of a no brainer decision.
So you studied Communication Design at Monash University. How did you come to choose that particular course over other ones that were available? How well do you think the course prepared you for your professional career?
After leaving year 12 I knew that I wanted to do some sort form of design course at Uni, I loved it way too much not too. So I had a look around at what was on offer and to be honest I originally had my heart set on RMIT, at first I felt like it would be the end of the world if I didn’t get in. Anyone that knows me knows that I am the sort of person who gets my heart set on things and keeps pushing until I achieve them. This time however I wasn’t even considered for one of the positions within the course, so as expected I was initially shattered. Monash was my backup option and so I commenced the application process and after a speedy process involving a folio interview I was accepted in. Now after having completed my degree I can wholeheartedly say that it was the best course that I could have done, and I’m so happy that things worked out how they did. It taught me a whole range of skills that I now use in my design work and it also helped broaden my perceptions on what I believed that design was.
The design industry can be quite competitive and difficult to break into. Was there a particular big break that led you to where you are today? Or did you just do the traditional job hunt?
Throughout my time at uni I got really into using Instagram as a tool to display my art, I enjoyed random people liking my designs and leaving nice comments, in some ways it got quite addictive. I found myself coming up with a random ideas like painting a pineapple pink, or covering half my face in glitter and needing to capture these silly ideas into some sort of design. Soon my Instagram became a folio of sorts that was very random yet cohesive, I found a style or a quirk that suited me and what I felt made me stand out a little bit. It also motivated me to do design work outside of uni which showed that I really enjoyed what I was studying. I ended up finding the job on one of the job websites and feel as though my random little artworks gave me a small advantage over other potential candidates because it showed that I truly had a passion for it.
How would you describe your style to someone who hasn’t seen your work?
Mm that’s a tough one, if I had to use one word I would say quirky, one minute I could be taking a random photo of a balloon animal the next i could be doing a cute little illustration. My style is literally whatever is in my head at the time… It just comes out in the form of design.
Do you find that your professional work is generally aligned with your personal design interests or are you often required to work outside your comfort zone? If so how do you find these experiences?
Obviously I can’t be so random with professional work, this is why I keep up my Instagram work as it’s a way for me to be me on the weekends or after work. The professional work I do however has sprinkles of my style and again I honestly love being able to put myself out there in a professional sense and still be a little bit playful in doing so.
If you could give some advice to your younger self now what would it be, now that you have found your feet in the industry?
It would have to be don’t stress too much. It took me a while to realise that I could just have the best fun with my work and not really care what people thought of it, if younger me knew this I could have found who I am as a designer quicker. In saying this though I probably wouldn’t change the way I got to where I am, I got my dream job straight out of uni so really there’s no complaints from me.
Lastly is there any general advice you would have for someone looking to become a designer?
I think that it would be to build up your folio. (In saying this I feel as though I’m still learning about the industry myself) it’s just what I have found in the industry is that professionals appreciate you going out on your own and creating art and design just for the hell of it, it’s also the best way to work out who you are as a designer, whether you put your artwork out there publicly on platforms such as Instagram or you would rather keep it private, building up a folio of work that’s not just school or uni work definitely helped me get to where I am today.
Thanks again for taking the time out of what is no doubt a busy schedule. I know we’ll definitely be keeping an eye on your Instagram to see how your portfolio grows and changes.
For our readers that are keen on doing the same make sure you head to www.instagram.com/allypedersen and give her a follow!