Meet Brisbane based graphic designer Irena Clare, serial food eater, part time adventurer and full time wife. Irene has been in the design industry for over 5 years and works mainly freelance for a variety of different companies and clients. Having completed a Bachelor of Design and specialised in Visual Communications, we chat about what sparked her original interest to become a graphic designer and what is feeding her fascination right now.
What originally sparked your interest to become a graphic designer?
It’s quite funny actually, I clearly remember having to choose my high school subjects in grade ten and initially, I was going to choose Art and Science subjects. I was always tossing up between being an artist or being in a medical profession, I was really into both. Although the one thing that deterred me from ticking the art subject box was actually my father. I remember a conversation we had where he pretty much said that everybody wants to be an artist but not many people ever get paid for their talents. So after discussing this I went to my bedroom and noticed another subject called ‘Graphics’ at this point I didn’t even know what that was, after talking to a few teachers and browsing through some of the past student’s projects, I immediately knew that this was it. I was always quite a career and business minded but enjoyed creating things from nothing. It was the perfect combination of creativity and science (technology). It was fun but challenging, you could be the most creative and artsy person in the world but if you don’t know how to use the programs/software then you basically can’t showcase your vision. I ended up choosing Graphics as one of my electives and managed to consecutively receive the highest marks in my entire grade.
What would you say is your strongest skill and how did you muster that particular talent?
My strongest skill would have to be using Illustrator and more specifically to do with Branding and Logo Design. I guess the only way to develop and progress was through hours and hours of practice. Completing hundreds of client jobs and projects.
Favourite type of project to work on?
My favourite type of projects would definitely have to be Logos, Branding, Marketing Material and Social Media Content. I don’t have a particular industry that I prefer working on more, I enjoy designing for a wide variety of industries, anything from a fashion brand to an electrical company.
What is feeding your fascination right now and how are you using this to intwine with your work?
Right now I am really fascinated with blogging. I have just created my first blog www.irenaclare.com – where I am hoping to combine my design side and my everyday life. I am really loving the photography side, the editing, and for the first time designing elements and pages for myself and my own brand.
What are you currently learning about in business?
Right now I am learning that in order to grow you must be willing to reach out to anyone, an individual, a company, a friend, or a small business, and basically say “hey, my name is Irena, I do this…. what do you do?” – This sort of interaction creates a relationship that has the potential to grow. You never know who you can help or who can help you without making that first step.
What is your approach towards this industry?
Be direct, be confident, and be friendly. I am lucky that I normally get to deal with happy people who are in the process of starting a new business and chapter, however, you do get the odd client who likes to take advantage of your skills and kindness. I tend to offer an unlimited number of revisions for my clients when designing logos, essentially it means I alter bits of the design (during the design process) until my client is loving the final outcome. I do this because I want my customers to be 100% happy – logos are such an important element to a business, it’s your entire branding, it’s the first impression. Unfortunately though what tends to happen is you sometimes get a client who has absolutely no idea of what they want to achieve, they start off with one business name and after designing a few concepts they decide to change the name to something completely different so there you are back at square one. In this sort of industry, you need to have the strength to step back and say, nope sorry but that’s enough. Thankfully 98% of my clients have a fairly good idea of their business name before approaching me.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Word of mouth! If you provide quality work and great customer service, I kid you not you will not only receive repeat work but you will get double the referrals.
Which marketing tools are you using?
This is something I need to be more consistent with. When I was first starting out I used to use social media platforms all the time to showcase the projects I was working on, it provided great returns! As I got busier I didn’t feel the need to utilise social media as much however, I really need to get back into it, not for more business but just to showcase my work and also to promote my clients.
Who influences your work?
I get a lot of my creative sparks from travel and browsing the net, oooh and obviously via social media – Pinterest and Instagram are the best!
Go to IG or Twitter account?
Instagram all the way – could spend a lifetime scrolling, follow me on @irenaclare
What is the best advice you have received recently?
The only time to set the bar low is in limbo! oh and never stop being curious, always ask questions, explore the unknown and try new things. Life is all about discoveries.
Best advice you can give someone?
Plan in decades, think in years, work in months, schedule in weeks and live in days, oh and wake up early, like really early.
What do you do to feel inspired?
If I feel like my motivation is dropping I like to talk to my husband or best friend about a business. As soon as we start throwing ideas left right and center I instantly get inspired to work and do more.
What else are you passionate about other than work?
My gorgeous husband, cooking, adventure, family, and spending time with my amazing friends.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
I really want to manage my work life better by using more calendars and scheduling consistent times. My other goals can be read in my New Years Reflection blog post check it out and have a read – www.irenaclare.com/blog?category=wholeheartedly
Finally, what can we expect from you in 2018?
Lots more designs, lots more lifestyle posts, lots more blog posts – keep your eyes peeled, I’ve got some big beautiful plans ready.