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Wavebreak Media Designer Spotlight | Ella Chinnock

This month, we’re putting a spotlight on our designers here at Wavebreak Media to find out how they followed their hearts and creativity to work in design. Learn what inspires them and what the project of their dreams would be. Here’s Ella Chinnock’s story:

Hi! I’m Ella, a 24-year-old Graphic Designer for Wavebreak Media. I joined the team once I finished college and have been here for about 2 and a half years now. Graphic design is truly my passion (pretend that was written in rainbow word art from 2001 Microsoft word). Oh and dogs… I love my dogs. Here's a little snippet of my time as a designer. Enjoy!

Where did you study design?

Graphic designer at work - Where to get an education as a graphic designer in Ireland - Image

Ever since I was a child I had a huge interest in drawing, so it was only fitting that I pursue it as a career. I studied at Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD for short). 

What a ride that was, the first year consisted of a year of pretty much everything, exploring our options of what creative route/media we would like to get our degrees in. We chose three electives, mine being print, sculpture, and graphic design. Nothing stood out to me apart from graphic design, which was the whole reason why I went to LSAD. 

Second year was a good laugh, getting to know the ins and outs of the software and doing fun projects. The third to fourth year was tough. The tutors really cracked down on us and expected a lot, which resulted in frustration and confusion the majority of the time. An example of this would be when we were doing a branding project, all we were told was to create a logo and packaging for a brand, nothing else. Everything I seemed to do wasn't good enough, constant work and no payoff. Doubting myself as a developing designer. After the 6 weeks of the project, we all had amazing work to show. At our graduation, our tutors brought it up. Turns out they were just pushing us to get us to either make it or break it. Suppose it worked though!

Looking back on it now, they are most definitely the reason that I have developed so much as a designer… so big ups to them!

Describe your signature design style, how did it develop?

Abstract music background - How working graphic design professionals developed their signature style - Image

I would describe my style as heavily illustrated with a mix of gradients and modern design elements. Drawing has always been a huge part of my life and I didn’t want to drop that. Not only does it look good, but it also keeps my work fun and interesting. I think it's what keeps me engaged in what I’m doing. 

I suppose my style developed during college. We experimented so much with everything, but I got better grades on my illustrated work, which obviously led me to do it more often. Throughout college, I was always drawing on paper, the traditional way. I never really experimented with digital art. For my final year project, I borrowed an iPad and the world of illustration changed for me. I loved it. I spent that summer learning how to use Procreate and digital art. 

In March 2020, I started with Wavebreak Media as part of the PSX team. Working with PSX for the last few years has also pushed me to better my style, especially on editors themes, they are almost literally a mix of illustration and design layouts.

If you could work on an exciting project of your choice in a world where anything is possible, what would it be?

Alien sticker design - If you could work on an exciting design project of your choice in a world, what would it be - Image

If I could work on any project in the world, I'd say it would have to be working on the set of any Tim Burton movie, either doing a character or set design… or even making up the storyline with him. Something about his movies really inspires me. I'm not sure if it's the outright craziness but I love him.

Since I was young I've always been watching his movies (unknown of what a producer even was) something about them just drew me in. I'm sure there were people worried about me at stages when I was drawing my own versions of the Corpse Bride and Jack Skellington. But as a child, I thought these characters were the coolest ever… I still do, to be honest. I feel like he is such a creative person and just being in his presence would inspire me to make wild and imaginative creations. 

So if I ever disappear without a trace, that's where I’ll be… Sorry, Monika and Marius, I’ll try to give you a heads up when it happens. 

What’s your favourite design quote and why?

Promotional poster for a DJ event - Inspirational quote for graphic designers - Image

I’m not sure if this counts as a design quote, but my favourite quote that I picked up from a visiting lecturer in college was, ‘Don’t seek praise, seek criticism’. 

Now, I don’t know if they heard that somewhere or if they made it up, but it stuck with me. Sure, the validation feels great when someone admires your work and has only nice things to say about it, but you aren't learning anything from that. An example of seeking praise and criticism would be: You could walk into a room of 100 non-designers and the majority would think ‘Oh that's great’ or ‘Really good work’, but at the end of the day, they haven't got a clue what they're even looking at design-wise. 

Walk into a room of 2 designers and you would come out with your head boggled, frustrated, and with a much better design at the end of it. Life is about learning and bettering yourself, and so is your passion and career, so why wouldn’t you want to be challenged?

What is a typical day working on PSX and how do you keep focused?

Tropical layered paper planner set - How to stay focused while working as a graphic designer - Image

A typical day starts at 8 am, checking messages, and emails and making a coffee of course. We then have a team meeting for 10 to 15 minutes, each team speaking about what their plan is for the day. Feedback from the PSX team in India determines what we do for the day, it could be editing previous designs, making new editors/collage themes or packaging, and if there is none of that to do, we will help out with Adobe templates. 

Depending on what I'm doing I set a daily goal of how much to get done. For example, if it is creating new editors, my goal would be a minimum of 3 in a day. Obviously, snack and coffee breaks are thrown in, and then finish up at 4:30 pm. A lot of people would think sitting at a computer all day must be hard to do, especially when it comes to keeping focused. I'm not going to lie, it is, well it was until I found what worked for me. We all have our ways of keeping focused. Mine would be getting up every now and again (even if it's for 5 minutes of fresh air), making a coffee, listening to podcasts (it has to be True Crime or you're doing it wrong), and chatting to the team. 

If I'm stuck on something or I've just simply been looking at it for too long, I’ll just send it to one of the guys and within seconds we've reached a solution to fix it. I think a mixture of alone quiet time and chatting time really helps me to be productive. Two minds are always better than one or in our team's case six (fantastic) minds. 

Which software, websites or tools would you recommend to a budding designer?

White car illustration and caption in Japanese - Recommended software and tools for a budding designer - Image

For a budding designer, depending on what their flare is, I would recommend getting to know the ins and outs of Illustrator and Photoshop as they are the most commonly used in any design industry. 

Procreate and Fresco are also great for digital art, I would use the 2 on almost a daily basis now. There is a lot I don't know about these programs but there are so many tutorials, which means I'm always learning (so don’t get too caught up when you don't know how to do something, that's what the YouTube geniuses are there for). 

I would also recommend studying and really understanding typography. Typography makes or breaks a design in many cases. There is plenty online about typography, a good website would be thefutur.com which has plenty of courses on it. 

Oh and lastly on the matter, don't be afraid of a pencil and paper. The design world is moving and advancing so rapidly that sometimes it's easy to forget about where it all started. If your ideas are not coming out properly on your iPad or whatever, take a minute, breathe, and grab a pencil and paper… It'll help you so much, trust me.

How do you handle tight deadlines?

Busy work desk collage theme - How graphic designers manage tight deadlines - Image

Thankfully, I work with a team of superheroes and we have super bosses too that make our lives so much easier at work. We all work so well as a team and really get stuck into the workload together so we rarely are pushed for time and deadlines. 

On a few occasions, if we have lots to do, I might stay a little later in the evening, or start a little earlier to get an extra bit done but it's not all too frequent and I don't mind doing it. I would rather stay an extra hour or two to get something completed than half do it and then go back to it the next day, 12 hours later when I'm no longer in the groove. 

I would say organisation is key, I usually make a list at the start of my day of what needs to be completed. Me being an overachiever sometimes leads to having too much on my plate and not getting it all done, but that's more of a personal thing. I'm sure if I didn’t work with such a great team of talented people, I would be spending a lot more time in the evenings on work and being a lot more stressed. I think the key to getting things done is organisation, a good team, good management, and as little stress as possible.