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Strength through Collaboration
Working towards running his own creative studio one day, graphic designer Jordan Tucker shares his belief on how collaboration is the key to success.

Hi Jordan, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a 20 year old student, working as a freelance graphic designer at jordantuckerdesigns.com. Growing up, I was very into art and I had great fun doing design projects. I started doing freelance work for musicians for free when I was 17 and I have been hooked on it ever since. I love graphic design and this is my way of helping others achieve their goal by improving their businesses' visual identity.

I am currently studying full time at University of South Australia, alongside doing freelance graphic design work. As well as that, I'm working at McDonald’s part time to fuel my dream, while working on several creative projects. My current goal is refining my skills, and gaining more experiences so that one day I can run my own design studio.

How did you get started with graphic design?

During high school I taught myself Photoshop while attending art and design classes. After graduating, I then went and finished an Advanced Diploma of Graphic Design at TafeSA (2014) which was very helpful. There is only so much you can teach yourself and this course gave me very practical experience with design. I learnt more about typography, page layouts, and gained a better understanding of what makes an overall great design.

Soon I will finish a Bachelor of Design (Visual Communication) at UniSA. This degree would give me a stronger theoretical perspective on design, allowing me to further hone my skills by approaching new projects with different perspectives and alternative methods.

When things get harder, remember your passion and keep pushing forward. People will recognise and appreciate your passion and talent.

When did you realise you can turn this into a career path?

As my skills and experiences improved while my understanding of client’s needs grew further, I realised I could turn this into my a career path while having fun doing what I loved. This realisation enabled me to naturally progress into working as a freelance graphic designer at the age of 18. To this day I have worked on over 50 design related projects.

 

What does the future hold for you?

Currently I am working with my friend; Ridge Lowis (Mr. Valentine) on a project called ‘Spectrum Studio’. It's the two of us coming together to work on projects as one under this umbrella. He is a great illustrator while I specialise more in graphic design, so our skill sets complement each other and help add more value in a job for a client.


One day I want to pass on my knowledge and experience to younger designers through teaching at Tafe or University. I want to help them build a great solid foundation for their future.
A creative studio is an expansion of this idea. It is going to be fun to work with other creative individuals, while combining different approaches to make something greater. I also want to use this opportunity to eventually bring other designers on board and help them with their artistic journey. Graphic design and marketing have a very strong overlap, so depending on how things turn out, we might even develop into a advertising studio or a marketing agency. For now my main focus is towards offering great designs first. Doing too many things at once will split our attention and resources, which will decrease the quality of our services.

Whether people realise it or not, great design can be the difference between whether or not someone chooses one brand over another.

How will you work toward this goal?

Currently I am working on growing my business skills, such as networking, pitching, personal branding, marketing as well as building a solid financial foundation. On the side I'm also working  on my coding skills so I can improve at web design. I also want to build up a great client base first by surrounding myself with likeminded people. You can’t just rush in and bank all your money on a new business without the necessary preparation. Learn to chill out a bit, build a solid foundation first.

 

What is your view on collaboration?

There are a lot of small businesses out there that I think deserve recognition. I use my Instagram account (@jordantckr) to promote some of them - I don’t care about any monetary gains from it - I just want to help people achieve their goals. There's plenty of work out there, why not help each other out to all become greater? So what's better than giving a shout out to brands/businesses/things that you really love?

What else do you do in your life?

I 'm currently working on a project called ‘Venture zine’. Each issue is a narrative that's told through different artistic mediums. The idea is that the story can be interpreted yourself to find your own personal meaning behind it. The zine features my own work, as well as collaborations from a few artists per issue. Each one interprets the story and has full artistic freedom to create something to reflect it. My goal is to share not only mine but other artist’s work with a wider audience, and bring them all together in an A5 book. This project is a great way for me to utilise my creativity skills in a relaxing and creative outlet.

 

Do people appreciate the value of great design?

Whether people realise it or not, great design can be the difference between whether or not someone chooses one brand over another. Bad design can result in things looking cheap or untrustworthy, great design can elevate things to a more professional level.

Failures build perfect foundation for future success. It is an amazing opportunity to learn.

Is it difficult to work with clients that don’t understand design?

It can prove difficult to work with these clients since they want to add or remove things on the work throughout all the stages. But to combat this challenge I try explain to them the reasoning behind why I do things, in order to help them understand it better. For example, helping them understand why certain colours are used, and when to not overuse colour or just placement of logos and certain typefaces.
 

How do you make sure your work adds the most value to your client?

First of all, I get to understand their business, goals, brand position, values and operations. The next step is brainstorming different ideas and to see which one best represents their brand, making sure it still meets their needs. I then go to the client with these ideas to hear their input and critique, so I can go back and refine my work before finalising everything. I work very closely with clients by keeping them informed of every step I take.

 

Where does your inspiration come from?

When I started, I looked at a lot of designers working with musicians (for example Leif Podhajsky and Dan Mumford) as I started off in this area. A lot of my friends nowadays are creative people doing amazing work which inspires me too. I also follow a lot of design blogs and pages on Instagram, Dribbble and Tumblr, so I can get an idea of what current trends are in the industry. I can take ideas from these popular designs and reinterpret them into my own style when I work, further elevating my projects.

You can’t just rush in and bank all your money on a new business without the necessary preparation. Learn to chill out a bit, build a solid foundation first.

What advice would you give to young designers starting out?

Form great relationships with people in the creativity industry. Step out of your comfort zone to learn as much as you can. I started out doing free work when I was in high school which is always a tough thing. However this built up my skill and reputation which put me in a great position to get paid for my work. It was a good way to then network and gain new clients from simply working for that first person to start with.

 

Don’t give up

Failures build perfect foundation for future success. It is an amazing opportunity to learn. Thomas Edison failed so many times creating the light bulb and yet he never gave up. Can you imagine what the world would be like now if he stopped trying?


Take the shot

My favourite quote from Wayne Gretsky “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” is something I try to remember when things get harder. Remember your passion and keep pushing forward. People will recognise and appreciate your passion and talent.
 


Unwind and switch off

It's exciting to create things but at the same time it can consume your life, which in turn can result in a creative block. You need to learn how to unwind and rest,  to take away the pressure. So you can then come back with a fresh approach and new ideas.

 

You don’t know everything.

When I started out I quickly learnt that even though - I may know a lot of things about design, there was also a lot of things I didn’t know yet. Take a step back and accept that you don’t know everything, go out there and learn from others.