Something unexpected

Kelly and her team at Sense are part of the Studio version of my Strategy Masterclass online course — using it as both a personal development tool as well as a team training tool.

I love getting  a snapshot of the different people who read my weekly journal and have embraced my online Strategy Masterclass course. Sharing our knowledge and insights gathered from our careers is the best way we can all develop and grow.

Over to you Kelly.

Name: Kelly Lear
Location: Sense Creative Agency, Melbourne
What do you do? Graphic Design… mainly Branding, Layout, Advertising, Digital
Job Title: Senior Designer

What were the last three books you read?

What were the last three websites you visited?

What do you listen to whilst you're working?
Anything from Nick Cave to disco.

What does a normal day look like for you?

5.45 – 9 am: Total chaos, including, but not limited to; being woken up by energised 4 year old, going for a run, drinking half a cup of tea lovingly made by husband, making lunches, finding socks, dropping kids at kinder / school, riding bike to the station, checking emails/news on the commute to Fitzroy.

9 am – 5.30-6: Get briefed on jobs for the day (either in person or through our job-tracking system) which can entail either a branding / concept job for most of the day, or a few little jobs like ads, brochures, EDM’s or changes. 

Hopefully meet a friend for lunch but more often than not I’ll be out finding a birthday present (always seems to be a birthday present to buy!)

Eat chocolate.

Catch up with Account Managers or Creative Director about jobs throughout the day.
6:30 – 11pm: Spend some ‘quality’ time with the kids, put them to bed, have wine, cook/eat dinner and finally talk to my husband or just ignore him and get stuck on social media!

Tell me about your career journey, the good, the bad and the ugly.

It’s been a pretty unconventional journey I guess. Graduated from Monash University in ’98 and somewhat accidentally started a business with my friend who’s father had got us a gig doing some catalogues for a furniture company. We had our own little office in their showroom and having a business seemed pretty easy when you had someone paying the rent and paying you a salary at the same time! Once the job with the furniture company had finished (around 6 months) we felt confident enough that we had a few clients and contacts from our time there to continue the business on our own and eventually moved into a great warehouse studio in Little Latrobe St.

The business became more and more established and my sister joined us as a partner and kind of General Manager and we worked with some big name companies like Origin Energy, BP, and a range of other businesses like Architects, the DIA, Deck of Secrets city guides, jewellery designers, lawyers and sole practitioners. 

I took a sabbatical in 2003 and worked in London for a few months then returned and eventually left the business in 2006 to travel the world and work in London for 2 years. I worked at a great company who did a lot of work with clients in the Middle East and I led a brand rename / rebrand for an investment bank in Bahrain. It was a great experience and it took me out of my comfort zone – especially travelling alone to Bahrain and presenting concepts to a boardroom full of sheiks! 

After a couple of years on London it was back to Melbourne where I have been working at Sense doing everything from websites to hand woven paper sculptures. I’ve been at Sense for 7 years minus two stretches of maternity leave and I’m working 3 days a week while the kids are young.

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud of working so hard to make a business work when I was in my early 20’s. It was pretty up and down, I worked a second job to earn extra cash for a while, but I’m proud that we built it from literally nothing and made a living for ourselves. We had no capital but we managed to create a successful business by being driven and probably a bit naive. We had no fear of failing. 

Tell me about one of your failures — how did you deal with it?

A print job. Folders that were spec’d as a particular PMS colour on a particular stock. The printers ran out of the stock and called to say it would be replaced by something else and I didn’t do a press-check. The colour went from grey to brown on the new stock and the client rejected it and the printer wouldn't take responsibility for it because I approved the stock change. We found it hard to deal with because the client rejected it after having them for quite a long period of time and not wanting to ruin our relationship with them we were supportive to them from the beginning.

How did you overcome it?

With the help of a mediator we came to a financial agreement between the printers, client and ourselves.

What did you learn?

If you think you don’t have time to oversee / check things, think again! A few hours out of your day is much easier to recover from than hours of negotiations, emotional stress and $$$ for a mistake that was avoidable.

Who are you inspired by? Why?

Every time I look at the work of people like Hockney, Frida Khalo, Keith Haring, Matisse and Jimmy Pike I just want to be a painter. I’m really drawn to their use of colour and form in such a playful, confident way. 

What are you inspired by? Why

Companies using their creative skills for positive environmental or social change. Brands like Who Gives A Crap are so inspiring to me. They’ve taken something that is a necessity and created a vehicle for making money for charity whilst also helping the environment AND creating a cult brand that people love. Who'd have thought getting a delivery of wrapped loo paper could be exciting!?

How do you keep your skills sharp?

I’m just passionate about design so I’m always talking to friends and family (a lot of them designers or in related fields) about design and we share insights without even thinking about it. I also try to do courses when I have the opportunity.

How do you ensure you keep learning?

Try to pay particular attention to others points of view. Even if you don't agree it's interesting to see what makes others tick and the thought processes they go through. Be open to taking something positive or informative out of a failure or missed opportunity. Even if you just learn something about yourself that's going to help you as a designer.

What will the role of the Designer look like in ten years time?

I think we’ll always have the same purpose and that is to communicate a message, be an empath (within the context of the audience), solve a problem and hopefully create some joy in the process. There’ll just be more virtual meetings.  

What are you doing to invest in your growth as a Designer?

Exploring other avenues of creativity helps me grow as a designer. And being aware of the way users interact with the different channels available to us in the digital space. 

Tell me something about mentors and mentorship. Yes? No?

Mentorship is truly a gift. I’ve had two great mentors in my career and I often still wonder what their point of view would be on certain projects I’m working on. They taught me to explore ideas no matter how crazy they might seem but also how to let go of an idea, which I think for me is probably more important. 

What's next?

I’m really feeling a need to create things without the computer and I’ve been playing around with some graphic illustrations. I’d love to do something more with that in the future.

If you could give an emerging Designer, young or experienced, three pieces of advice, what would they be?

Read the brief. But really read it. Dissect it and ask why and how and for who, and look at your work and ask yourself again if it answers the brief.

Don’t be self-important (a wanker). Even if you’re hugely talented and successful you could be talking to someone even more talented and successful in their own way.

Try to do something unexpected.