Hello! I'm Alyssa, a graphic designer at Alyssa Yuhas Creative. I'm usually found designing branding, blogs, websites and magazines for small business and creative entrepreneurs. I absolutely love what I do (I even have a poster to prove it!). I recently made a big move across the country with my husband and baby bump from Calgary to Toronto, Canada. It's an exciting time: living, loving and designing in a big new city!
When did you decide you wanted to be a graphic designer?
It wasn't an immediate "a-ha!" moment, and I wasn't designing logos in my crib – but as I look back on it now, I've always been expressing myself creatively. From a young age, you could find me doodling kittens on scrap paper or creating books filled with made-up stories with crazy drawings of made-up people. As I got a bit older, I became obsessed with magazines and hoarded issues and issues of Sassy, Teen and Seventeen magazine which can now be found packed away in my parent's basement. However, even with all of that, I never thought I would be able to "make a living" as a creative (I thought it was just a hobby). As a result, I was on a very academic route in high school – confession: I was actually a "mathlete" (!!!). Even in college, I started going down the path of becoming a mathematician, but I was still taking fine arts as electives. Though I excelled in math and really loved formulas and algebra, my creative side was clearly calling. One thing lead to the other, and I ended up switching to the Graphic Design degree program. Honestly, I don't feel like graphic design is a HUGE leap from math – they are both about problem solving. Once I joined the program, I immediately fell in love with graphic design – with the idea that there are all of these visually exciting ways to solve a problem and clearly communicate an idea, message or feeling.
How did you transition from being a student in school to being a designer in the "real world"? This wasn't easy. In my last year of college, I interned at a magazine and gained a lot of experience before I even had a chance to be out in the "real world". We weren't taught in school about the different types of paper, printing, ink, studio systems, proofing with clients, client relations, etc. but I had hands-on experience with all of that (plus, an amazing mentor) that taught me the ropes before I even had degree in hand. I was very lucky that way. But even with all of that, the transition from school to real-world/real-job was hard. Again, I was lucky to get a job RIGHT out of college (I think I graduated on a friday, started my new job on a monday), and the job was with a small boutique design studio that specialized in editorial design and art catalogues – and they won a lot of awards as a result of their talents. It was an amazing experience that taught me a lot, but was also the hardest thing I ever had to do. To be honest, I cried a lot in my first year out of school. The pressure of being one of two designers, was really heavy on this young naive grad. And being a small studio, we had our hands in everything, from the start of a job (meeting clients) to the middle (pitching ideas) to the end (production and hand off of files) – so a lot of pressure and I wasn't JUST flexing my design skills. Again, it was great experience that I wouldn't trade, but it was a lot to be thrown into right out of college and I wasn't living a glamorous life. It was hard work!
What was your first paid design job?
Good question?! I believe it was after my second year, during the summer, I worked for the church I attended in their Youth department as their ONLY graphic designer. I did a few big projects for them, but the biggest was redesigning their identity, and honestly at the time, I barely knew what an identity was! I had to go into meetings and pitch my ideas and concepts to groups of people (by myself) – incredibly intimidating for someone that had barely dipped her foot into design! I didn't know how to run a design meeting or how to pitch my ideas, I just sort of made it up as I went along. What I created was really well received, but looking back now, I can't believe I did that all on my own after just a few months of design school!
How have you been able to make a name for yourself in the design community?
I think loving what you do attracts like-minded people. I've had the opportunity to meet fellow creatives and that's been the biggest point of encouragement and growth for me. It's really important, when you work solo, to reach out and surround yourself with people that "get you". I've been really lucky to find that both online and in "real-life". It's amazing to be able to text a friend to ask for advice on pricing a new project, or email another friend to see what they would do in a similar client situation. I'm really thankful for those people that I can "talk shop" with, vent to and that give me real honest feedback.
What is one quality you think all designers should have?
There are so many qualities that are important to have in your skill set, but I think being a problem-solver is an key quality to have. Someone that can identify issues or see where something is lacking, not JUST pointing out the problem, but then they SEE the solution. I think this quality pushes you to not just rely on a specific style, or font or color palette, but pushes you to innovate your methods and become visionary in how you communicate!
What advice would you give to a new graphic designer?
Never stop learning. Never stop asking questions. I think sometimes when you've been working for a few years in the industry, you begin to either think "you know it all" or you are too embarrassed to ask. Just keep asking! I'd also encourage you to find a mentor, someone you can do just that: ask questions and soak up as much knowledge as possible.
Thanks so much Alyssa for contributing! You are such a talent and oh so lovely!
Find more of Alyssa here!
Portfolio: http://alyssayuhas.comBlog: http://ilikenicethingsblog.com