Laura is one half of creative duo ilka, a Glasgow design studio that works across branding, typography, film and copywriting. They work across lots of different projects and loads of different clients including record companies, breweries and CBBC!
What’s a multi-disciplinary designer?
I run creative studio ilka along with my business partner and good friend Lisa Adamson. Day-to-day we work on a really wide range of projects including designing logos and brands to represent a company or campaigns that advertise the work of a company or a product that they make. We also design exhibitions and had even designed a travelling truck.
ilka only has 2 employees at the moment so we each have to take on lots of roles. As well thinking up ideas and working on the creative side of the business I also have to send lots of emails, work out costs for jobs and put together proposals so no two days are ever the same! We use Adobe software - mainly InDesign and Illustrator with a bit of Photoshop thrown in here and there.
Get out there and chase your dream.
I enjoyed school and liked getting stuck into my work. I studied Art and Design and Graphic Communication where I learnt to do technical drawing. I liked these subjects but I knew I wanted to go into design and I found it difficult to get advice in this area because my art teacher had a fine art background and my guidance teacher had no idea the process of getting into art school.
Other people I knew that went to different schools could do portfolio prep as one of their subjects to get them ready to apply to art school but we didn’t have anything like that at my school which I found frustrating so I did life drawing classes and other extra courses on the side to try and build my portfolio.
My parents have always been very supportive of my choice to pursue a creative career but a little cautious at times. They helped me in anyway they could, giving me lift to life drawing classes, taking me shopping for materials I needed and putting up with me making a complete mess doing my homework! They also reached out to their friends who had creative careers so I could talk to them about it.
The leap from school to university is not the only way.
After school I went to college and did a HND in Graphic Design as well as an evening portfolio course. I then applied to Edinburgh College of Art and got direct entry into 2nd year of their Visual Communication degree. This is where I met my now business partner Lisa.
After graduating from ECA I applied for so many internships that I lost count. I had decided that I wanted to use my degree to travel so applied to companies outside the UK and ended up in Madrid. I worked in a company who designed movie posters and stayed there for a year. After that I moved back to Glasgow and was lucky enough to get a Junior Designer job and I’ve been here ever since.
Get stuck in…
I always loved problem solving and getting stuck into my work. I like the different stages that you go through in a project from research, to design development and then rolling our final designs and printing to clients. I didn’t really consider many other paths I decided on Graphic Design and then just went for it. Before running ilka when I worked in previous jobs I always had side projects on the go so it felt that by day I was learning the technical skills I needed as a designer and by night I was doing the creative things I wanted to do.
Face your challenges creatively.
I didn’t get into art school after finishing high school which felt like a big blow at the time but I went to do my HND at Cardonald College and I learnt loads there. When I got the interview for ECA my tutors told me to use it as interview experience… in 20 years no one from the Cardonald HND had got into ECA so you can imagine how excited I was when I got in!
Over the years quite a lot of people have told me that I couldn’t have a creative career or the type of career I wanted but it’s important to believe in yourself and keep going, you’ll get there!
Go for it! Do your research, find out what skills you need and put the work in to get there. It doesn’t come easy but it’s worth it. If you don’t get something the first time that doesn’t mean you should quit… ask for feedback, keep trying and keep improving.
A great attitude and using your initiative go a long way. Get to know your colleagues. Recognise that you won’t get to do the amazing jobs straight away but putting in the extra effort doesn’t go unnoticed and as well as becoming part of a team you will learn a lot.