This weeks 'Framed' contributor is Chloë Galea, a British graphic designer and junior art director based in Berlin. Chloë allows us to view her perception of creativity and look at how Berlin has impacted her life.
It’s really good to look back and take stock of the progress I’ve made. Today I can feel quietly confident as a graphic designer. This has not always been the case, but thanks to the accumulation of small achievements along the way—keeping the work coming in as a freelancer, even when I moved countries, spending a few years in a great little London studio, working for big clients, small clients and everyone in between, having my work published online and in print, and so on—I am not the hesitant post-grad I was four years ago.
Back then I had landed an internship with Pencil Agency in London, which quickly became a full time job. However, I had no idea what I was meant to be doing. University doesn’t prepare you for client meetings, working in studio environments, trying to second guess your creative director, or being told the whole magazine needs to be done by next week. I was fragile and my first 3-month review with my boss really shook me up. It was all constructive criticism but at the time I just heard, “You’re not good enough." Thankfully, for my ego, it wasn’t long before I started to receive some praise from those around me and thus gained the confidence I needed to keep pushing ahead with my practice.
Today, I still have a long way to go. The quiet confidence I have now does not mean I am any good. I am still blown away by the design I see around me, and can only hope that one day I will be producing work of the same calibre, but this is the way it should be. Graduating university four years ago, I know that there are plenty more years left in which I can improve.
I have been living and working in Berlin for the last year or so, having decided that I had spent enough time in London, and wanting to push myself out of my comfort zone. I now work for a nice mix of clients, from the UK, Germany, America and elsewhere. It was a great realisation that my job was truly portable—it doesn't matter where my clients are in the world, because the internet lets me work on projects just as if we were in the same building together.
Berlin is full of talented people wandering around without a passion strong enough to guide them down a single path. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and a lot of these people are highly cultured, highly sociable and engaged in art, music and design or at the very least are enjoying their carefree lives one day at a time. However, I count myself fortunate that I love design and can not see myself in any other profession. Of course making a job out of something you're passionate about has the tendency to dampen that excitement from time to time. Sometimes you just want a job done and out the way so you can get away from your desk and go meet your friends. But thankfully it doesn't take much to re-engage myself. As soon as I have had a good dose of inspiration—whether it's from meeting interesting talented people, getting out into the city and keeping my eyes open, or admittedly just having a good session looking through the internet—I am back at my Mac wanting to create just as much as I ever have.
I am currently working along side a trend analyst for a project, which has been a really interesting experience and brought me back to an age old question: What is design? Is there always a play off between creativity and problem-solving? When designing packaging for a brand, for example, the ultimate aim for your client is to engage their customer and sell products. Does this mean that the best design solution will be one that is carefully calculated, taking note of the customers lifestyle and reaction to current design trends, thus creating a solution that probably isn't too radical and maybe not even that creative? Or is there room for unstifled creativity there? My university drummed into me the need for commercial design and that design is about solving problems often to the detriment of visually interesting work. While I understand the importance—the commercial aspect of graphic design is why I chose to be a designer and not an artist—I don’t think there is anything wrong with overtly creative work, even if it has to be a personal project, knowing clients would run a mile. Being in Berlin certainly supports this notion—here there is such an unique scene with an amazing melting pot of creative practices.
For me, it is these creative experiments and self-directed projects that give me a kick and bring new life to the rest of my design work. I think creativity for me, among other things, is the ability to create something unique and unseen before. And this is a difficult thing—almost impossible because of the inspiring work we're surrounded by. But I think that through these hours of play and unbridled exploration, we can stumble across new exciting ideas that then feed into our everyday work and ultimately help lift it above what has come before.