Fake it ’til you make it… as a designer

Ben HennessyIn a piece that first appeared in Encore, Benjamin Hennessy from Frost Design tells us how to do his job.

What does a designer do?

We express ideas, messages and emotions through visual media. Put another way, in branding-specific design, we create and style someone’s wardrobe, teach them to speak and cut their hair in an effort to portray them in the way they wish.

What skills do you need to be good at the job?

The most essential skills are having a good eye and understanding how certain typefaces, colours and imagery will affect people.

A good graphic designer should also make a good furniture designer or film-maker and so on. Simply knowing what is ‘good’ or ‘working’ and why it is working is the best tool for any creative.

Other skills that are more to do with ‘craft’ can be learnt and nurtured over time but without a good eye, a great craftsman is only a conduit for a great thinker.

Who are the people you work closest with?

I work closely with all of the design team. From interns to the creative directors. There is always knowledge to be gleaned from everyone and there is always something to give back and teach in return.

Is there any lingo we need to know to do the job?

There are definitely some things to avoid – agency speak like ‘touching base’ and saying acronyms aloud is probably best left to client service.

What does a typical day on the job entail?

Emails, catching up on news, coffee, banter, ping pong, doodling with some design wedged in between.

What’s the best part of the job?

There is always a moment when you start to get on the right track and you get a little buzz going. It’s the same feeling you get when you lose your keys and suddenly get a brainwave as to where you left them. Whether you go on to find them is another thing, but chasing the lead is probably the most fun.

What’s the biggest challenge? 

The biggest challenge is trying not to emulate what we all see on a regular basis on blogs and other places. We have to avoid getting sucked into current design trends. It’s very easy to do with so much great design around but in the end, being inspired by design to create more design is a little cannibalistic.

How do you become a designer?

Get a folio of work you’ve made and you love together and get people to look at it. If it’s good and they like it and they like you, you’re golden.

I am also not of the mind that you need to study for design. I did, but if I didn’t, I think I’d still be in a similar situation. The best way to learn is to do. I used to find identities I didn’t like and redesign them for fun and to fill my folio – and those were the jobs that potential employers seemed to enjoy the most.

Benjamin Hennessy is the design director at Frost Design.
Encore Issue 26This story first appeared in the weekly edition of Encore available for iPad and Android tablets. Visit encore.com.au for a preview of the app or click below to download.



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