Spotlight: Kiera Obrien
Name: Kiera Obrien
Job Title: Freelance Designer and Illustrator
Social handle: @obrnkiera
What’s the story of ‘you’?
I’ve always been a bit of a maker, you couldn’t get me out of the print room in university and I even took a bookbinding course because I wanted my final project to be completely handmade. When I’m not busy making and designing, you can usually find me scouting out a new restaurant to try or planning my next adventure.
What is that you do now?
I’m currently a freelance graphic designer and illustrator so I’m working on lots of different projects. This can vary from working with independent businesses, small agencies and individual custom designs.
Tell us about your day-to-day...
The best part about working freelance is my day is completely up to me; I try to shake it up everyday, whether that’s within my to-do list or a change of scenery. I generally tend to jump from project to project throughout the day, depending on deadlines, to keep myself motivated.
What skills are essential for your role?
Things like time management and an eye for detail are a given for any designer but being able to discuss your ideas and creative process is important, your passion should shine through whenever you talk about your work.
Curiosity is also a big thing; both for learning and the industry, you should keep up to date with what’s going on and if you’re not learning something every day then change it up.
Did you always want to be what you’re doing now or was there something before this?
I’ve pretty much always wanted to be in a creative role, before that I was probably about ten and wanted to work in a zoo. I was lucky enough to go straight into a role out of university but started my freelance work during my final year and it’s always been on the sidelines since. I’ve worked for a number of places now and I think every role shapes you in one way or another.
How did you get your foot in the door?
It started with a job where I changed my own role and now I’m always looking for opportunities wherever I can. The first step is putting yourself out there, build a portfolio and show it to people.
Biggest lesson you've learned along the way - what is it?
It’s okay to have setbacks, they help you develop and prepare you for the next big thing. Always remember everyone starts somewhere so don’t be afraid of making mistakes or asking for help.
It’s only recently that I’ve realised how important building a network is, it opens so many doors and provides you with a lot of support when you’re looking for advice or motivation.
Has there been anything that has surprised you about the industry?
Probably how many different opportunities are out there, my main worry leaving university was ending up in a role I didn’t like just to get some experience but I’ve built up a portfolio full of projects I’m proud of and a lot of them came from the most unexpected places.
What advice do you have for people just starting out?
Don’t let imposter syndrome get in the way of going after what you want. Whether it’s an email to a creative director that’s been sat in your drafts all day or applying for a role you don’t think you have enough experience for: do it, you’ll learn from it and you might even surprise yourself.