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Hear all about Lisa’s journey into design

When I was young – “oh no I’m starting to sound like my mum!” – I always enjoyed being artistic and creating art. I won several prizes in school and in external competitions, and was even lucky enough to be printed in my local newspaper for a drawing competition while I was still young.  

My parents held traditional values, that also permeate my culture, and so didn’t consider doing art to be a good career. This view is often based in the idea that creative careers aren’t as lucrative, and so don’t support good lifestyles. So, I decided to move away from art and focus on science. When I was in college doing my A-levels, I met up with my friend who was doing art and we talked all about her work and what she was achieving. I started to question myself because I could have been doing art with her and it would be a lot more fun than science. 

All my teachers were very supportive and encouraged me to make the huge jump to apply for a BTEC in Art and Design – but I didn’t have any current designs to show, only a few GCSE Art projects. I made another big decision and took time off to retrain my creative muscle and rediscover my creative mindset, and developed a series of drawings and watercolours to add to my portfolio. My interview went really well and I was offered a place! My class was mostly male students, but this didn’t bother me as it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, you should do what you enjoy.  

After my Art and Design BTEC, I went to Middlesex University to study for a BA in VCD Graphic Design. University proved to be more expensive than anticipated, so I worked in Tesco, got a student loan and moved out. During my last year in university, one of my lecturers informed us there was job opportunity and we should apply, so I did, and I didn’t expect much as there were so many students applying for it – but somehow, I got the job! I think it is good to not put too much pressure on yourself – if you get it then great, if you don’t, there are other opportunities out there. 

Unfortunately, this job didn’t last long, and after just a few months many of us were made redundant. This caused me to move around a bit, working in Viacom Outdoor (CBS) and JCDecaux. Then I applied for a job at Auto Trader, because one of my hobbies was car modification – I was doing up my Eunos Mazda at the time – and I had a few car adverts in my portfolio already. This was clearly a winning combination as I became the first female designer they had ever hired, which was a huge surprise. I had a great time working there, learnt a lot about cars and got to develop my design skills more, but after two years we were made redundant once again.  

Later I worked at MSD as a contractor in their in-house design studio, they offered me a permanent position and I gladly took it. After 10 years there developing and honing my craft – yep, you guessed it – we were made redundant, so I applied to Sliver and the rest is history! 

I have been made redundant many times as you will probably know from my history, but it hasn’t stopped me moving forward and it shouldn’t for you. If you are passionate about it, then never stop going for it.  

 Life is like a rollercoaster – there will be ups and downs, and challenges on the way, I am very grateful I have wonderful managers, a team that are friends to me and we support each other.  

 My biggest challenge is trying not to take on too much – I love helping people at work and outside of work.  

A tip from Lisa…

Do what you enjoy.

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