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Gabrielle Guy

Freelance Graphic Designer

Primary design concentration:

Publication/art book design

Most preferred tool for designing:

Adobe InDesign

1. How and why did you choose to become a designer?

My parents were always very encouraging creatively—my mother always had a love for art, spending her spare time in her studio, painting and sketching, while my father worked in advertising. I always enjoyed drawing, and fantasized about going to art school, but I suppose because of my father’s influence I chose commercial art rather than fine art.

2. What are some of the challenges you encounter as a designer and how do you deal with them?

As a freelance designer, I have to deal directly with clients myself—which often makes things easier and simpler, but at other times it can be quite trying and stressful. I learn more and more from each job about how best to manage projects, something only experience can teach you.

3. What is your definition of an “elegant solution,” that is, good design?

I think that you shouldn’t be able to see the design in a good design—the object (a logo, a milk jug, a book) should be so well-resolved, so simple and pure, that you can’t see the designer’s own hand in it.

4. From skills to values, what makes a designer successful?

An awareness of space and balance, attention to detail, respect and restraint, and a passion for whatever it is they are producing. Technically, one needs to be proficient in your software application of choice. And of course a few basic people-skills wouldn’t go amiss.

5. How do you stay motivated and grow personally and professionally as a designer?

I try to take at least a month and a half to two months off once a year to go travelling, often to a major European city, where I spend my days wandering around, taking photographs, scribbling in journals, and visiting all the galleries and museums I possibly can. It’s important to give myself a break from work and throw myself into a visually stimulating (sometimes overloading) experience from which I can feed for the next year.

6. For those aspiring to become a designer, whatever the discipline, what is your advice?

Work hard. If you’re good at what you do, you’ll always find work. And don’t spend too much time in front of your computer.

7. What is your quest in design, from a professional practice, education or evolution standpoint?

I feel that what I do actually doesn’t actually matter in the bigger scheme of things—but I enjoy doing it, in the now, for myself.

Gabrielle Guy is freelance graphic designer in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. She recommends attending the annual Design Indaba, a design conference that takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, towards the end of February. Follow her on Twitter.

Photograph of book design by Gabrielle Guy.

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