12 Questions: Meet Vicky Willingham (UK)

In our 12 Questions blog series, we feature interviews with someone from the crowdSPRING community. For these interviews, we pick people who add value to our community – in the blog, in the forums, in the projects. Plainly – activities that make crowdSPRING a better community. Be professional, treat others with respect, help us build something very special, and we’ll take notice.

We’re very proud to feature Vicky Willingham (crowdSPRING username: VictoriaAnnDesign) today. Vicky lives and works in Suffolk, UK.

1. Please tell us about yourself.

Well I’m currently on maternity leave from my full time job as a design manager where I design flyers, brochures, conference material, logos, web advertising and any other print and promotional design items.  I live in Suffolk, UK with my partner and our beautiful 6 month old daughter.

2. How did you become involved with graphic design?

I went to college after school and studied media.  I wanted to go into radio.  Not long after the course started I discovered that I really didn’t like my voice!  Part of the course was focused on design elements for magazines, CD covers, etc. and I began to really enjoy that more than anything else.

3. How did you start out as a freelancer doing graphic design work?

This was a long time ago!  I was looking around the Internet for a way to earn some extra money and came upon one of those old forum-based design contest sites.  I threw myself into it and pushed myself to improve.  It was quite a good starting point for someone with no professional experience. Because I wasn’t sure whether my designs were good, I found the feedback invaluable.

4. Who/what are some of the biggest influences on your design work?

I would say the environment around me has influenced me more than anything else.  When I’m stuck for ideas, I tend to stare out of my office window and gaze over the field past my garden and take a moment of thought.  I’m a thinker!  I also love bold colours and design, and have always enjoyed pop art.  I remember learning about Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol and thinking how their work looked really modern even though it was created around 30 years ago.

5. How do you come up with ideas for concepts after you read a buyer’s creative brief?

Sometimes an idea comes to me straight away. Sometimes I go off and look at the dictionary definition of a word and use that as a starting point.  Sometimes I have an idea, and just play around with it until it becomes something great.  If after spending time on a project the ideas still aren’t flowing, I admit defeat and move on to something else.  Sometimes projects just aren’t suited for everybody and the beauty of crowdSPRING is that I am able to pick and choose projects.

6. Which of your designs are your favorites and why?

I really like the Underground Labs logo design – although this wasn’t chosen as the winning entry.  I just love the overall final effect and colours.  I also really like the Jamaican Miracle logo as I think it responded to the brief perfectly and would have really stood out on a shop display.

7. How has technology affected your work?

Well I started out with technology so I haven’t really known any different, although I have to say that the software I use now are far superior to what I was using back in college 10+ years ago!  I love the Adobe software, and can’t imagine using anything but Illustrator for logo work.

8. What are your favorite websites for inspiration or learning about graphic design?

I have to admit that I don’t really look at web sites for inspiration – but for learning I quite like to just google whatever it is I need to know.  If I can’t get an answer there, I would probably turn to the crowdSPRING forums as everyone is so helpful there.

9. Please describe your typical work day.

Well there is now nothing typical about my work day!  It could start out well as I get stuck into a design, but I am currently working around my baby so anything can happen there!  Sometimes I will work into the night when she is in bed. That way I know I can focus.

10. What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of being a creative professional?

Most challenging is definitely being able to come up with fresh concepts each time and making that fit what the client wants.  Finding out what a client really means when they say they want a design to be bold but not overpowering, up-to-date but not modern, professional but edgy, etc. is often a challenge!  The most rewarding is definitely seeing your logo go live and look fab!

11. What advice would you offer to someone considering graphics design as a career?

Look at work that you like, figure out what it is about it that catches your attention and try to use a little of that style or attitude as inspiration.  Practice practice and more practice.  Learn the software you intend to use for design, know it inside out or at least as much as you can.

The quickest way to lose focus is when you need to dig around to figure out how to do something, by the time you have found it you have probably forgotten exactly what you wanted to do!  Take criticism, ask for criticism.  As long as it’s constructive try to learn from it.

12. What do you do with your free time?

Free time?  Well my days are taken up with the little one. I mostly spend any free time singing nursery rhymes or scraping up pureed cauliflower cheese from the floor!  When I’m not doing that I like the cinema, shopping, cooking … and when the sun comes out spending time in the garden.

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Thanks, Vicky!