So just how do you go about becoming a Graphic Designer for one of the UK’s biggest retailers? We spoke to Fabienne Burnett about how she landed her role at Missguided, going from Junior Artworker to Graphic Designer in just a year.
As a company that harnessed social media to build its strong online presence, Fabienne’s work is seen by 3 million people on Instagram alone. Offline, Fabi is also responsible for managing all of the store graphics, which recently won Missguided a Drapers award for best use of screen content in-store.
Believing that the key to getting ahead is not worrying about perfectionism but constantly striving for growth, Fabi shares with us every step of the interview process, how the design team works together and her best tips for anyone looking to follow in her footsteps.
FIRSTLY, COULD YOU BEGIN BY TELLING US A LITTLE MORE ABOUT YOUR ROLE AT MISSGUIDED?
I started working at Missguided in April 2017 as a Junior Artworker. It was made very clear during the interview stages that the role would primarily consist of graphic design, whilst including various elements related to art working, which suited me well!
During the first month, I was taught basic coding skills (sounds very technical, but surprisingly easy to pick up) and worked on easier tasks such as designing, scaling and sending artwork off to print for the stores, as well as producing basic graphics to be used on Missguided’s various social platforms. At the time, these tasks were incredibly daunting and I found myself over-analyzing everything I designed. I’ve grown massively in confidence since then, I now know that not everything I make is going to be perfect – but that’s ok!
After a year of working with the company, I was promoted to Graphic Designer. This required me to take on a lot more responsibility and I’m now completely in charge of the work I produce. This includes designing elements of the website, app design, posts for social media, OOH (out-of-home) advertising – such as TV adverts and billboards – and creating animation for videos to name a few!
For anyone applying for a design role, make sure that you’re covered from every angle as they like to test you!
WHAT DO YOU FEEL IS YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
My biggest achievement to date is being assigned management of all the store graphics. This involves designing screen content, as well as print and any other assets needed for VM (visual merchandising). This year, Missguided won a Drapers award for the best use of screen content in their stores, which is something I am very proud of. Managing this role requires me to set up my own meetings with relevant team members and make sure everything in the store is up to a high standard.
WHAT WAS THE APPLICATION PROCESS LIKE FOR YOUR ROLE?
I won’t lie, I wasn’t expecting the application process to be as challenging as it was. For anyone applying for a design role, make sure that you’re covered from every angle as they like to test you!
I submitted my portfolio and cover letter, along with a very enthusiastic email demonstrating how eager I was to work for the business and received an email a few weeks later asking me to complete a design brief (they can take ages to reply, so don’t worry if you don’t hear back straight away). After a long two or three weeks, I had my first interview. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I took all my physical work that I wanted to show, as well as my printed and digital portfolio.
Once I was there, I instantly felt a lot more comfortable. The key is to just be yourself because at the end of the day it’s not just about your work, it’s also about you as a person. You should also think about whether you can see yourself working in that environment and with these people. Then, it was another 2 weeks or so before I was then assigned another brief with new tasks to test my skills.
Finally, I was called in for yet ANOTHER interview – but this one was a little different. To say I was thrown into the deep end is an understatement as this interview was more of a personality test than anything. I was asked questions such as what my spirit animal is (to which I embarrassingly said a weasel…) and what superhero I would be. I said “weazy woo woo burying tunnels underneath the earth”, I’m not sure whether that’s what got me the job but clearly I did something right, as a week later I got offered the position!
THE RECENT PLAYBOY X MISSGUIDED VIDEO LOOKS INCREDIBLE!
COULD YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT IT AND HOW YOUR TEAM CREATIVELY WORKS ON COLLABS?
Thanks so much! It’s been a very fun project to work on and I always enjoy collaborating with other brands as it gives me some exciting, new content to work with.
There are 8 of us on the graphics team which consists of 2 coders and a creative manager, the other 5 of us do the graphics across all channels. I’m so grateful to be in such a fab team! Not only do we all help each other to complete our work, but we’re also all really good friends which is something I highly value. Having good relationships with my colleagues definitely helps when it comes to collaborating together, as we’re able to easily communicate about projects whilst also being able to have a laugh in the workplace, making getting up in the morning and going to work a lot more fun.
Each team member has a unique style and set of skills which allow us to produce a variety of media – this is incredibly useful for when we have to create different types of designs for a campaign. Having taught myself how to use After Effects has meant that I am usually assigned to any video work we need and this is certainly a skill I like to think I contribute towards the team. However, we share the majority of tasks, allowing everyone to work on different designs which keeps everything looking fresh.
HOW IMPORTANT WAS YOUR GRAPHIC DESIGN DEGREE IN GETTING YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN DESIGN?
This is a question I have often been asked and personally, I can agree with as I feel it has aided me to get where I am today. However, this differs from person to person, so if you’re really unsure about going to University, don’t feel pressured about having it all figured out!
University didn’t particularly help when it came to actually learning how to physically design and use Adobe software, but instead allowed me to visualize my thoughts and help me understand the type of design I wanted to go into. Being surrounded by people that shared the same interests as me meant we were able to bounce ideas off one another, which I personally thrive off as a source of inspiration. My tutors pushed me to explore ideas, that if I had tried to do on my own, I feel I wouldn’t have been able to achieve. I’m not sure whether this was just because I initially lacked confidence in my own work, but by the end of the three years I had certainly developed a style and now feel I am not scared to showcase the designs I produce.
However, there are things that University doesn’t prepare you for. Having done two internships throughout my degree – one doing VM at Selfridges over Christmas and one at a local magazine firm in Nottingham – I learned the differences between University projects and industry deadlines. I would highly advise anyone that it’s a great idea to try and get some internships under your belt whilst you’re studying, as it looks great on your CV and also teaches you valuable skills such as being able to work to a strict brief and communicate with clients. Going into a full-time design job is definitely a lot more challenging. I was instantly put into situations that required me to think on my feet and work to short deadlines. It’s daunting at first, but once you settle into your role it does become a lot more manageable.
HOW DO YOU FIND MANAGING YOUR OWN PROJECTS WHILST WORKING FULL-TIME?
I have my own side projects to vary my work and make sure I don’t slip into just designing for one client. I usually find this work by simply talking to people and reaching out to my network. I have my portfolio ready for anyone wanting to see the type of work I do, but recently I have found that through word of mouth, I am being asked to create designs without the need to show anyone my previous work – something I hope will continue in the future as I keep building my portfolio.
WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND MOST CHALLENGING IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
A challenge I am faced with daily is keeping my work looking different from previous designs, whilst still making them current and sticking to the client’s needs. I am constantly looking for inspiration, not just at work but when I am out and about as this is when I get the best ideas! Sometimes I have days where I feel useless and as though I’ve almost forgotten how to design (usually at this point you’ll hear me moan, saying I want a career change and that I’m not going to get anywhere in life), but this is all part of the journey and after all the stress, my creativity kicks in again.
WHAT TRAITS DO YOU THINK ARE NECESSARY TO SUCCEED AS A GRAPHIC DESIGNER?
Obviously, there are the basics such as being able to use Adobe software, but the level at which you can use them varies between designers, so don’t feel pressured to know everything about them as you’ll pick up tips and tricks throughout your entire career. I think on a more creative level, it’s all about communication and being able to talk to your audience through visual language. I’ve managed to achieve this through regularly chatting to my peers about different ways in which I can vary my work and generating a variety of options before narrowing them down and finalizing a design.
FINALLY, COULD YOU GIVE US 2 TIPS EACH FOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER BEGINNERS AND FOR ANYONE LOOKING TO GAIN WORK?
For anyone starting out…
Be open to criticism and know that not everything you design is going to be right the first time.
Push yourself to learn new skills. I am always pestering my colleagues to teach me things they know and constantly watching YouTube tutorials and googling answers when I come across something I’m unsure of.
When looking for work…
Make sure you are actually applying for jobs you know you’re going to thrive in, otherwise your skillset will be wasted on something you may not actually enjoy. You will at points, be faced with tasks that aren’t as exciting or enjoyable, but it’s always good to try and put yourself in situations you’re going to learn from and excel in.
Be yourself and don’t be scared to showcase your work. At the end of the day, you might not be right for one business but perfect for another one, so don’t knock yourself down if you don’t get a job straight away!
Be sure to follow Fabi on Instagram.
Words by: Heather Ibberson