Founding Member, Judith, spent 10 years working as a Fashion Designer in Canada, before embarking on a new career here in the UK. Discover what prompted her decision to retrain in Graphic Design aged 32, and how she forged her own path as a freelancer.
Judith, what’s your creative occupation?
I’m a graphic designer and illustrator.
Where have you been?
I’m from the province of Québec, Canada, where I worked as a fashion designer for 10 years before deciding to go back to college to study graphic design when I was 32. I had known for some time before quitting that fashion wasn’t my passion anymore, partly because the company I worked for didn’t let the designers be creative enough, and partly because I didn’t feel like it was what I wanted to do long-term. At the same time I found myself more and more attracted to the graphic design part of the job – thinking about a new swift tag, creating an all over print or a placed print, etc. But I kept thinking that the market must be saturated because 90% of my friends were graphic designers. And then I thought “well, all of them have a job so surely there’s still room for more!”. That’s what convinced me.
When I finished my graphic design course, I moved to the UK, because my husband is British – meaning that I started my new career in a new country, without any contacts. Something I 100% would NOT recommend, haha! Thankfully someone gave me a chance, and I was hired to work as a graphic designer for a charity. I moved on to an in-house agency about two years later.
Where are you now?
I decided to become self-employed three weeks before the first lockdown back in March 2020, so that was interesting! It was something I had been thinking about for a while though, I’d say about two years before I took the plunge. London is a VERY competitive market for graphic designers, and finding a job in a decent place, with a decent manager, at a decent salary, is hard if you don’t have connections or didn’t have the option to do a barely paid internship at a well-known agency.
So, I figured that going freelance would be my best chance at working on projects I like (including doing more illustrations), and deciding who I would work with – and being my own boss! So I said goodbye to my permanent job and I’ve been lucky enough to find a client that has been giving me consistent graphic design work from the start. I also take on illustration commissions and other small graphic design contracts in between. In the past year I opened an online shop to sell my illustrations.
Where are you going?
If 15 months in a pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that, who knows where I’m going? Not in a scary way, but in a way that leaves room to change my mind about what I want for my professional and personal life. But for now, I’d really love to work on cultural projects and on book projects in any capacity possible for someone with my skill set.
Finally, what’s occupying your thoughts today?
At the moment I’m often thinking about how to balance working on projects that fulfil me, working on projects that pay my bills, and giving myself time to enjoy life and all the things I like to do.
Yes! Work-life balance is so important. Thanks for sharing your journey, Judith! Got any questions for Judith, or just want to say ‘hi’? Reach out to her via our ‘Members’ page. Not a member yet? Join us today for networking, mentoring, resources & more!