Regina Miecchi is a multi-disciplinary designer working in Italy. She now runs her own design studio Visionara but has worked around the world with music companies, advertising agencies and Hello Kitty.
I'm very happy to share my experience with all of you. My name is Regina and I am a multidisciplinary designer. I’ve been working in visual communication and consumer products for about twenty years. I’ve now got my own studio but used to be creative director of Sanrio EMEA. With my design team we created the fantastic world of Hello Kitty and Friends for products across Europe and the rest of the world.
I work across lots of areas of design and use tools like Adobe Illustrator and Photosphop to create work.
If you really want it, make it work!
I always knew that I wanted to be a designer. Unfortunately, the only Italian Visual Art University at the time, would only take twenty students per year from all over Italy. My only option was to enrol to a private school, even though I knew it would be impossible for my family to support me financially. School fees were very high! During the day I would go to classes in graphic design, advertising, publishing, semiotics and art history - I was totally fascinated.
After classes I would work as receptionist and secretary of evening courses (into the same school) and as waitress too.
It was a crazy three years. It was as if my life was paused for a moment, divided between school chores and my jobs-it was impossible to even have a catch up with friends but I had amazing teachers who believed in me and supported me all the way through. I finished my studies with the highest grade and had already started working as a freelancer for one of the most well known music producer in Italy already during my second year.
A creative path around the world.
My first ten years as a designer have been quite hectic because I wanted to gain as much exposure as possible to all the different fields of design. I have been lucky to work for large international design and advertising agencies, that allowed me to specialise in graphic and visual communication (I am not very fond of advertising!) and I’ve had experience in interface design in London where I worked in an online marketing agency for a couple of years.
At the age of thirty I was offered a job to be Creative Director of a multinational Japanese company, a role I’d never done before. We were creating Hello Kitty products for stores around the world! I had to set up, train and run a department almost from scratch. I had to become extremely knowledgeable, in a very short time, about character design as I had to pass this on to my collaborators. It was a huge learning curve!
Broaden your horizons. Understand the world around you.
It was crucial, during this time, to get to know the culture of the countries we were working with. Culture plays a big role in design and we need to understand this really well. Getting to know other countries customs first hand is invaluable and I consider this one of the best ways to really understand and embrace beauty of diversity and to broaden your horizons.
Experiences make you stronger.
I treasure these years and experiences, even the ones that made me struggle at times, as they helped me to understand my true direction and where I want to be heading. I have now joined the dots and the result is my own studio VISIONARIA - Design the Change. It’s a little design studio that I set up with my sister, whose main purpose is to make a social impact by supporting non profit causes with profit (design) activities.
It’s not always easy to know if you’re on the right path.
How did I know if I was on the right path? I believe you can’t really know the answer beforehand and it’s really hard sometimes to understand if the direction you choose is the correct one.
It’s a bit like choosing between standing still while the train passes by or jumping on it, before it disappears from our sight! I am a curious person, I love to learn and I love new challenges so I’ve always chosen to jump on the train!
Design is an ever-changing field and you can never know all the answers. The important thing is not to allow ourselves to be held down by our fears and to make sure we are true to ourselves, and our values. Be passionate and persistent.
Tackle challenges creatively… they will always be there.
Challenges are at every corner, unexpected hiccups happen on our way and there is little we can do to avoid them sometimes. Learning and developing as a person and as a professional involve a lot of trial and error. Frustration and challenges are just part of the process.
One big challenge for me was having such a high entry barrier to study. I had to work twice as much as I planned. Because I was so keen to explore different design fields it was also really challenging having to start from scratch every time I decided to take a new job.
Working in communication has the added challenge that it’s sometimes hard to balance your own communication needs (in my case the need to make a positive social impact) with the ones of a profit-oriented company. The key is taking one step at the time, stay focused on your goal and don’t lose faith in your capabilities, keep positive and things will turn out for the best.
I treasure all my experiences, even the ones that were a struggle. They have helped me build my skills, made me reach out to individuals that I admire (personally and professionally) and made me learn valuable life lessons. They have set me in the direction that makes sense to me.
Would you change your story?
I don’t think I would change a thing, all the steps I walked were functional to get me to where I stand now. It has been very hard at times but I would do it all over again. I have become the independent woman with a creative job that I always wanted. I am happy to say dreams do come true if you work your heart out.
And some words of advice…
Make sure you are always true and consistent to yourself.
Voice your ideas, stand up for yourself.
What makes you unique is a real strength, don’t let anyone take it from you.
Be loyal, inclusive, fair and open to the world: make sure you team up with others and embrace your differences.
Be positive and don’t let the negativity of other people get under your skin.
Keep going your way and make sure you leave your mark.